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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Grown-ups behaving badly...

The New Hartford Public Library Charter Revision Committee held a meeting tonight. Committee Members are Mary DuRoss, Chair; Connie Stephens, Virginia Emmert, Kevin Kelly, all Board Trustees; James Kirkpatrick and Albert Moretz, former Trustees and Mary Lou Caskey from Mid-York Library System. Other library trustees were also in attendance.

According to the Open Meetings Law, when two or more board members, in this case trustees, appointed to a sub-committee of the governing board gather to discuss business, the meeting is open to the public. As such it should be advertised to the public and videotaping is allowed.

In an Opinion Letter dated December 7, 2006, Robert Freeman, Executive Director of the Committee on Open Government opined:
...a governmental entity, i.e., a municipal or school district library, I believe that committees and subcommittees consisting of two or more members of the Board would be required to comply with Open Meetings Law.
However, some members of the New Hartford Public Library Board objected to our videotaping because they do not want to share information with the public regarding discussion of a possible re-charter of the library as a school library whereby the funds needed to run the library would be a separate line item on the New Hartford Central School tax bill rather than included in the town budget. According to one board member, they would have a better chance of the vote passing if there were less information available to the public beforehand. Another board member said he didn't care about the Freedom of Information Law and the Open Meetings Law...he had no intention of complying with either.

We say hogwash...taxpayers have a right to know what they are being asked to fund...the pros and the cons. The Open Meetings Law is there for a purpose; it is to prevent public business from being done behind taxpayers backs.

After some of the board trustees and committee members walked out, it was decided to adjourn the meeting because it was being videotaped rather than to continue the business that they came together to do.

It is truly sad that some members of the library board feel that 'outsiders' are not welcome and should have no say in these discussions even though the point of these meetings is to start making plans to ask voters/taxpayers in the New Hartford School District to agree to fund a $500,000 library budget as a separate line item on their school tax bill.

It is unfortunate, but it appears that the "movers and shakers" behind the New Hartford Public Library didn't learn their lesson from the 1994 bond vote for the building that was rejected because voters/taxpayers felt 'left out in the cold' with not enough information given to the public beforehand.

What is it that they say...history has a tendency to repeat itself? Unless the library trustees get their act together and start to recognize the need for public involvement, history may very well repeat itself. Then who will be 'left out in the cold'?

Here is tonight's shameful meeting:


Ralph Waldo Emerson said...

There is a mix of good and bad on the library board. Too bad the arrogance of some snooty nosed people ruins the whole thing. If they want to ask the citizens to fund them with their school taxes, that is alright IF they do it openly and up front.

The library is clearly used by a mix of NH residents and non NH residents. It should be funded by the 3 counties it serves, not a small slice of NH property taxpayers.

The downside of school taxation for the library is that it goes to a smaller taxbase than the whole town, so those left paying the bill will actually pay more per annum than they do now on their town tax bill.

I hope they mention that little tidbit during their sales presentation to NH school district taxpayers.

Mad Spartan said...

Sell the library to the highest bidder!

Libraries are a nice "end." I think libraries are great. But ends cannot be divorced from means. And the means of any public library is tax dollars -- dollars that were extorted under the principle of "Your money or your life." Pay your tax or go to jail. Nothing about them is free. Understand that while the driving force of the private sector is the creation of value, the driving force of libraries is the destruction of value. People are forced, if not at the point of a gun, then at the threat of the point of the gun, to pay for libraries whether or not they want to. And the difference between what they wanted to buy with their money and the library that they are forcibly stuck with is a destruction of value. Not only that, but the difference between the excellent private libraries that would probably exist if the market weren't flooded by inferior government libraries is a further loss of value.

Public libraries, as institutions that destroy value, destroy in some small way our ability to live our lives to the fullest. They represent houses of death and should be spat upon and cursed in the most creative language possible.

Public libraries are a scourge because they masquerade as a benevolent government program, a program that seemingly only the most extreme radical could oppose. Educate the public. Provide "free" books, movies, CDs, and Internet connections to anyone who wants or needs them. Provide reference material and disseminate knowledge to the public. Combat illiteracy. In short, public libraries supposedly better society and make the world a nicer place for everyone. And if public libraries are so great, then why not a public "this" or public "that," by extension?

Public libraries are at the heart of statism and the destruction of individual rights. They embody the premise that government can create value. But force cannot create. Wealth cannot be legislated. The truth is that aside from protecting individual rights, government can do nothing but destroy value at the point of the gun.

Percy Bysshe Shelley said...

Was wondering where you went, Mad Spartan!

Can't say I agree with everything you say, but the message of forced taxation is pretty clear.

swimmy said...

Like duross's ilk, public libraries are a dying breed! As colleges and universities across the nation gather more wealth and resources, their libraries put little rinky-dink ones like the nh library to shame. With more massive book selections, from fiction, nonfiction, and all points in between, college and university libraries have much more to offer. It is time for public libraries to go the way of the dodo bird.

In Oneida County alone, there is SUNY IT, MVCC, Utica College, and Hamilton College! That is plenty of libraries for such a small county!