Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Report From the Front Lines on Library Board Meeting

Note: Former Ben Lomond and now Felton resident, Joni Martin has been active in her efforts to save the Felton branch library from being closed.  Here is a quick update she shared on the meeting of the Library Joint Powers Board last night:

The chambers were packed to overflowing with vocal community supporters. Approximately 48 people spoke. All but two spoke passionately on behalf of keeping all 10 branches open – even people from areas that weren’t threatened with branch closure. Of the two who spoke in favor of branch closure, one was a library employee and the other was someone who had helped write the Task Force Model D that proposed branch closure.

After the public comment period, the Library Board members had their turn to speak. They were clearly strongly affected by the outpouring of public comment over the last week and tonight. They did not vote tonight on whether to close branches, but in their comments, five Board members directly stated that they are in favor of a 10-branch model and have strongly heard the community’s desire. These were Nancy Gerdt, Supervisor Ellen Pirie, Supervisor Mark Stone, Capitola Mayor Sam Storey, and Santa Cruz City Council Member, Katherine Beiers.

Santa Cruz City Council Member, David Terrazas, said he favors finding a compromise that keeps the branches open but addresses the concerns of some of the supporters of Model D. He made a motion, which was unanimously approved, to delay a decision; form a subcommittee to look at what is best in the four different models; evaluate the new financial figures on retirement costs that have been presented to the Board; look deeply into all costs; allow the people who crafted the four models to come back based on new numbers the Board's received; and try to come up with a compromise solution. The subcommittee will consist of Storey, Pirie, Terrazas and Board Chairperson Barbara Gorson. Storey and Pirie said that they will be coming from the perspective that keeping the branches open is their top priority. The subcommittee will report to the Library Board at their next meeting in 3 weeks – March 7.

The only Board members who did not express preference for keeping branches open were Scotts Valley Mayor, Jim Reed, and the Board chair Barbara Gorson and Board member, Leigh Poitinger.

While it would have been nice to have an actual vote tonight to keep all branches open, I feel good that all Board members came out with their opinions and that a clear majority are in favor of committing to our branches. I feel hopeful about the outcome now that all the Board members have said where they stand.

If any of you were thinking about writing letters still, you can make your letters thank you notes to the Board members who spoke out in favor of keeping branches open..and thank the others for being open to exploring solutions that could let them feel comfortable with a 10-branch system.

I want to thank every one of you for whatever action (or even thought) you took to help stand up for our community on this – the letters, the meeting attendance, the positive intention. We are lucky to be part of a community that cares this much. Thanks for being one of those who cares.        Joni

Here is a link to the Joint Powers Board Members List: http://www.santacruzpl.org/aboutscpl/govern/ljpb/members

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