The only thing surprising about the failure of the library levy is that supporters are surprised. It doesn't take a political analyst to speculate about the reasons. Simply stated this retread of the 2007 library levy was the wrong proposal at the wrong time. A vote by the Library Board of Trustees to place this measure on the ballot in a mid-term election when there was so much anti-tax, anti-liberal, anti-elite, anti-government, anti-anti sentiment was foolish. What were they thinking?
Even though the anti-everything mood had an effect, it would be a gross over-simplification to stop with that as the only reason for the failure because MANY long time supporters voted NO. One of the comments to the newspaper article posted online says it even better than Dottie can:
I support libraries because I view them as being a vital part of our democracy, but I wonder if some of the people who made the decision to put this measure on the ballot are indeed dinosaurs. Here are some of my thoughts:
The message from the library administration was inconsistent – they said the measure was just for new buildings and services if it passed and deep cuts in basic services including closing a library if it failed. So which was it? Voters aren’t stupid they recognize spin when they see it. Just because libraries are valuable does not mean every request for money is a slam-dunk.
Some voters may be aware of the serious personnel problems at the library. I know staff members who have been treated unfairly by the library administration and this made me wonder about their management skills.
The people who make the decisions about the future of the library lack vision. Instead of going to voters with a plan to build new expensive buildings, perhaps they could have considered more creative solutions such as repurposing existing space. The Board and Administration are locked in the past with out of date solutions to modern problems
Asking for more money in a depressed economy, when many are out of work was not only insensitive it was completely out of touch with the citizens of the county and their needs.
During the campaign, the library administration was quoted as saying they had no plan in place in case the levy failed. That alone shows arrogance and poor management.
Two levy failures in three years should send a message to the Board of Trustees that everything is not right at the library and hopefully they will make changes that will bring the organization into the 21st century.My heart goes out to those who put so much effort into supporting this proposal. It makes me sad to see your time, energy, and financial support spent on a measure that had no hope of winning. At least the 11-year-old mentioned in the newspaper article who made so many calls has learned a valuable Civics lesson. She put all her effort into something she cared deeply about and now that it is over she has to pick herself up, dust herself off, rethink the options and keep trying to make a difference.
Library Director & Board of Trustees
ARE YOU LISTENING?!?
PS - Here are two points I forgot to include in the original post:
- The administration paid a lot of money to a consultant after the last failed levy effort for a report that determined county voters were extremely tax-adverse. Knowing this - did anyone really believe the residents at the south end of the county would want to pay for a new library building at the north end of the county?
- The director has sent a letter to staff saying, "I will personally be visiting staff throughout the system in the next two weeks to solicit your thoughts and allow us to share our feelings about this setback." This director has a history of not wanting to hear what the staff has to say unless it agrees with what she wants to hear. . . and due to the disappearance of many who have spoken up, most staff members are afraid to say what they think.