Library Supporters & the San Diego Budget Kabuki Theater

by on May 4, 2011 · 5 comments

in Economy, Education, Popular

If you are not at the table you are on the menu.

Tomorrow, Thursday May 5th, the San Diego City Council will listen to public testimony about the library budget.  This hearing, at 10:30 am in the commission chambers, will be the only opportunity to provide input solely on the library issue.  Even if you signed a petition, attended a rally or called your councilmember, it is important to attend this hearing!

Mayor Sanders has proposed gutting the branch libraries by reducing branch hours to 18.5 hours a week.  That means branches would be open two short days and alternate Saturdays.  At last week’s rally in OB, Obceans clearly saw this as an attempt to close their library and they were not buying it.

Five council votes are needed to veto the mayor’s budget.  Five council votes are needed to carry an alternative library budget plan.  Two council members have publicly committed to restoring the full library budget.  As you know, Councilman Kevin Faulconer took the lead this past Saturday at the OB library. Councilman Todd Gloria held a press conference on Tuesday May 3 to not only express his own commitment to restoring those funds, but to discuss the revenue sources to do so.

What appeared to be a straightforward thumbs up or down to the mayor’s proposed budget became more complicated after the office of Independent Budget Analysis (IBA) released its own review of the mayor’s budget this past Friday.  The IBA was established as a result of the strong mayor form of government.  It provides independent financial analysis as opposed to policy analysis, to the city council, the legislative branch of our city government.

Library supporters were shocked to find out that the IBA released three library budget options for the council to consider. They are not, it is important to note, the handiwork of the IBA or council. The first option was to restore the full $7.4M to the library budget.  The second option was to partially restore the budget by forgoing the pairing of branches and creating eight express libraries.

These express libraries are virtually the same libraries, including OB, that had been slated for closure two years ago.  Instead of simply locking the doors and closing the lights forever, this option is a slow and cruel bleeding to death of small unique libraries that are firmly rooted in their local communities.  No new materials would be bought for these branches. No materials would be re-shelved. There would be no programs for kids, no community partnerships.  These libraries would no longer exist as vibrant centers integral to the sense of community which citizens clearly value.

Library supporter Lowell Waxman wrote this to Councilman Gloria:

I encourage you to be strong in your support of full library funding with no IBA wretched compromises being satisfactory alternatives to the Mayor’s devastating original budget proposal. No express branch libraries and no pairing libraries with minimal mystery public hours.

These crackpot proposals are totally unsatisfactory and should not be put on the table as genuine last minute library department organization plans. Besides being bad plans they have not even been discussed in neighborhood budget meetings. I  consider these radical proposals, particularly the Express Branch proposal which dresses up the old discredited plan to close branches in each district, to be back door attempts to circumvent the democratic process and too late to meet the transparency test for good governance. Folks can’t debate and discuss midnight proposals…. That is no substitute for orderly and informed due process that gives affected neighborhoods time to digest the impact of proposals such as those coming from the IBA.

We need full funding for full service libraries and your vote to reject the Mayor’s plan for the Library. Surely the Mayor’s proposal was not gamesmanship to make the bad but less drastic proposals look acceptable. People are tired of being played for fools.

The lack of transparency and the radical proposals make great budget kabuki theater, but as Lowell notes they do not constitute good governance.

City Council Library Budget Hearing
Thursday May 5th, 10:30-noon

202 C Street, San Diego
12th floor Council Chambers

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Sandy Lippe May 4, 2011 at 1:45 pm

“Aspirations of ordinary people are being overlooked as the nation tries to work through the budget woes.” Bill Clinton

Libraries are sacred, fun, reinvented community centers for all of us ordinary citizens. Anna Daniels spells out the situation for her readers. Get thee to the city administration building on Thursday, May 5th by 10:30 a.m.
Sandy Beach

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avatar Shelley Plumb May 4, 2011 at 3:42 pm

It will be criminal if any of the propositions on the table are voted in EXCEPT for restoring the full and complete library budget to present levels. No more compromise. No more cuts or layoffs for something so essential to our quality of life as libraries. Please show up tomorrow at City Hall to advocate for YOUR library.

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avatar Brian Anthony May 4, 2011 at 5:21 pm

I appologize using your article to defend another cause but;

I am a huge supporter of Community Based services and am willing to fight for the Library Hours and I plan to be in attendence on May 5th. But to all those well organized Friends of the Library groups and of course the OB Rag, please don’t forget to support the Park & Recreation Department. Ocean Beach has two Recreation Centers (Ocean Beach Rec. Center and Robb Field Athletic Area) that will be cut from 40 hours per week down to 20 hours per week. Youth/Adult Recreation programs and classes will have to be eliminated and the service to the parks will be drastically impacted. If you have the time to come to City Hall early, please support the Park & Recreation Department

Get thee to the city administration building on Thursday, May 5th by 9:00 a.m. to Support the Park & Recreation Department and stay to support the Libraries.

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avatar annagrace May 4, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Brian- I am completely with you. Our Park & Rec services are being nailed to the wall too. I always try to mention both libraries and parks, because they are the core city services that citizens come out in defense of year in and year out. Park & rec services are vital in my City Heights community. At Councilman Gloria’s press conference yesterday he specifically said that he is committed to finding the revenue sources to make libraries and park and rec whole.

Forgive me Brian for being a one-note samba. I know libraries in a way that I do not know park & rec. But the Obrag provides an opportunity to explain the importance of Park & Rec services too. Please consider submitting a post on the subject!

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avatar editordude May 6, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Report by George Murphy, Friends of OB Library:
Hi gang–JOB WELL DONE! And over a 1000 signatures were gathered! And the City Council has been convinced. We need to stay diligent however, and be determined to ‘hold their feet to the fire!’

On another note: I am leaving town Monday morning for two weeks. I’m visit family and friends in Michigan and Indiana. Suzi is also gone for some of this same period. Therefore I don’t think we’ll have a quorum for our next Friends meeting set for Tuesday 17th of May. Therefore I think we deserve a break!! We will not meet in May! We will have to let our membership know however.

We talked yesterday at the Council Chambers and decided, because of traffic and parking, to move the monthly meeting to Tuesday May 14– at 6:00 p.m.

This will be an experiment! We want to see if we can attract a broader spectrum of our community. Hopefully people will notice this change while reading our newsletter. (maybe coffee and cookies?) Should we let the other community organizations (like OBMA and the Planning Board) know? or a Poster on the Community Bulletin Board at the corner of Cable and Newport? The BEACON and the OB RAG? Just ideas.

Continue to enjoy our days in Wonderful OB!

Thanks again,

obgeorge

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