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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 21, 2012 5:41 PM. The previous post in this blog was Perfectly Portland. The next post in this blog is Where atrocious happens. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cogen and the gals just don't get it

The Multnomah County commission is forcing the public library to close on Mondays and lay off staff -- this after the county's voters have told the commissioners, time after time, that they want the current level of service maintained. The voters even passed, overwhelmingly, a ballot measure that was supposed to "get the politicians out of" library funding.

That was obviously a lie.

In any event, go ahead and cut away, commissioners -- it's your political funeral.

Comments (24)

New book in the works: Why Jeffy Can't Govern.

And we've given them their tax hikes time and time again precisely because we want to continue current levels of service.

Kitz did the County no favor when he offered Wheeler the State Treasurer position. I think it was good for Ted's future political prospects, but he was doing a great job with Mult Co, and it's sad to see it turned over to the current crew, which seems pretty interchangeable with the Portland City Council.

The library can be operated less expensively and with just as much quality of service if it were run by a private service vendor instead of government employees making over generous benefit packages. But I know this is probably not in the inflexible DNA of most Portland voters to grasp (altho they might be starting to understand it w.r.t to TriMet).

I really don't know why I should have to pay for some rich, well off Portlander to get free videos from the Library and other free services; or to pay for a place for folks to hang out and play around on the internet for most of the day. These folks ought to pay a fee, too. But again the typical Portland DNA believes in such free entitlement.

It looks like a Library District could hit other Multnomah county and city services quite significantly, because of a thing called tax compression. For many Portland home owners, the county and city have nearly hit the limits on general property taxes (other than capital bonds). These limits are $5 per 1k Real Market Value assessment for educational levies; and $10 for other local government levies (including urban renewal and a library district if there should be one). This is not a good trend because what will happen is spend thrifts like Cogen and crew will start to push other forms of taxation...(remember the awful Multnomah County I tax?).

Bob Clark

“There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.”
― Andrew Carnegie

Words to live by, and words, seemingly, embraced by the people of Portland. Privatizing public institutions might be the holy grail of teabaggers and right-wing zealots, but it certainly isn't the goal of a majority of your fellow Oregonians.

Privatizing public institutions might be the holy grail of teabaggers and right-wing zealots, but it certainly isn't the goal of a majority of your fellow Oregonians.

Oh, my.

Andrew would be so, so proud.

You would, of course, have to explain your "teabaggers" allusion...

...but I'm sure you're qualified, if not an expert, on the subject.

Well pacnwjay, I guess Andrew Carnegie didn't use the internet much.

cc
pdxlifer

....ok.... am I missing something?
cc... you don't like my "allusion" to teabaggers. That's fine. You don't have to like it. What's your objection to the good, moral value to a "free public library?"

pdxlifer.... I have no idea what your objection might be... that I know how to use Google??

The Library Association of Portland was privately funded and operated for 58 years (1864 to 1902) without the benefit of public taxes. It was only after John Wilson made a bequest of 9,000 mostly rare books -- predicated on making them available to the public -- that membership was no longer required. This led to the first public library levy in 1902 (while the City paid for services, the books were still privately owned and the library was privately operated).

It continued to be privately operated until 1990, when operations were transferred to Multnomah County.

It's been a fine example of public mismangement and political patronage ever since.

How long will it take for people to realize that HEALTH INSURANCE COSTS are crowding out needed services and eating up our public revenues. Tri-Met, libraries, public sector retires -- the story is the same. Get insurance companies out of the medical loop, and the numbers will change dramatically. Medicare for all.

I really don't know why I should have to pay for some rich, well off Portlander to get free videos from the Library and other free services; or to pay for a place for folks to hang out and play around on the internet for most of the day. These folks ought to pay a fee, too. But again the typical Portland DNA believes in such free entitlement.

Have you been the library? You think that's what they're all about?

"If you have any concept of a free and equal society, then libraries are still an integral part of that."

Why do so many people think "Free Public Library" means government funded and inefficiently operated by unionized government employees?

Especially when it becomes so costly that it can't stay open?

Is it horrific to imagine the same Free Public Library operated by a private vendor even when it means keeping it open and affordable?

There's not even any mystery or risk involved as many public library systems have already been successfully converted.


The library can be operated less expensively and with just as much quality of service if it were run by a private service vendor instead of government employees making over generous benefit packages.

Ok, I'll take the bait--give me an example of a major urban area that has privatized its library and found that the resulting service was better than when it was run by the government.

Bob Clark: "I really don't know why I should have to pay for some rich, well off Portlander to get free videos from the Library and other free services; or to pay for a place for folks to hang out and play around on the internet for most of the day. These folks ought to pay a fee, too. But again the typical Portland DNA believes in such free entitlement..."

I suspect Mr. Clark is not a library user, though he is certainly quite the pontificator....Computer use at the libary is limited to one hour and that is controlled automatically by a timer, so it is not a place for people to "hang out on the internet most of the day." As a frequent library user, the people I see on those computers often are students doing homework,people doing resumes and job searching, etc. And as for free videos for the rich, at any given time in any given branch the video selection is very limited, hardly even a measurable fraction of what you'd find at Blockbuster, Red Box or Netflix. This is the last place the "rich" would be going for their movies.

From this
http://www.publiclibrariesnews.com/p/privatized-and-volunteer-libraries.html

there are many links including this one


http://www.city-journal.org/2011/cjc0609mc.html

The few California localities that have tried library outsourcing have seen positive results—not only in cost savings, but also in expanded library hours, programs, and services (using existing resources). Riverside County is a prominent example. The city of Riverside had operated the county’s library system for decades, but residents grew increasingly dissatisfied with deteriorating service, and so in 1997 the county board of supervisors voted to hire LSSI to turn the system around. After the first year, LSSI had slashed operating costs by nearly $1 million, all while increasing library hours by 34 percent, doubling the materials budget, boosting circulation by 15 percent, and expanding community participation in library events. Within five years, operating hours increased 86 percent, branches opened on Sundays, and staffing doubled. Over the past 13 years in Riverside County, LSSI helped oversee the construction of nine new libraries and 11 replacement facilities, as well as seven major renovations. The company introduced cutting-edge automation, helping pioneer online services that stretch library dollars even further and give patrons more access to public resources. At the same time, LSSI managed to raise an additional $5 million in funding through grants and donations from local businesses.

[The previously city run library] officials asked the local friends of the library chapter to stop donating so many books, because it was costing the city too much money.
, outsourcing the library to LSSI gave the city greater control and flexibility, and improved customer service almost immediately.

Many county and city librarians care deeply about their patrons. SEIU’s priority, however, is accumulating political might and maximizing its members’ job security, compensation, and benefits. The union simply can’t compete with the improved services, hours, programs, and patron satisfaction that private management has brought to libraries. So the union reverts to form: if you can’t beat them, ban them.

Believe me, librarians, research librarians and paper conservators are hardly generously paid.

And libraries that move to vendor operation often embrace even more damaging management systems such as the trend to digitize entire collections and then pulp or discard the original materials (books and paper ephemera). Nicholson Baker wrote about this when it began with magazines and newspapers in the 1980s and I recently spoke with a graduate student in physics at a prominent university in California who was sick about original, irreplaceable books being destroyed or sold - lost to students. All in the name of saving money (which, I assume, is the prime driver behind anyone's suggestion that libraries by privatized).

Public libraries are a gift to the people of the communities in which they reside and are one of the last services any citizen - rich or poor - can enjoy free of charge; to pursue a better job, develop creativity or expand the imagination. Beyond books, libraries offer places to meet and share learning. They are a social center for the young and old.

I, too, share other writers' disgust at Mult. Co.'s return to nibbling at an institution that the public has clearly shown it wants left alone.

Business as usual in Portland/Oregon.

TriMet: Cut bus lines that serve everyone, so that they can fund a pet rail project.

Schools: Cut basic education, so that they can build more Taj Mahals for administrators and higher mid-level "equity" and "diversity" managers and planners and developers.

City of Portland: Cut street paving, police/fire services so they can fund development and streetcars.

Multnomah County: Cut the Sheriff's Office and libraries to fund...what is it that the county does again?

NW Portlander,
"original, irreplaceable books being destroyed or sold - lost to students. All in the name of saving money (which, I assume, is the prime driver behind anyone's suggestion that libraries by privatized)."

How can you possibly think or say such a ridiculous thing? I've read many pieces from every angle on our public libraries and not once have I seen such a claim.

The prime driver is keeping them open and operating.

Your assumption about destruction of irreplaceable books being destroyed to save money is just wrong.

It's OK Ben, these maniacs spouting their hogwash are everywhere. And basically, they are just unable to imagine a world without the crippling manacles of public employee unions.

My son and I are watching the whole series of Monk, and we wiki'd the actor Tony Shalhoub yesterday. So sad to read that he too, has been drinking the Kool Aid, and was helping flog the delusional masses in Wisconsin to rise up against that voice of reason, Scott Walker.

All these poor sensible Midwestern Republicans want to do is curtail collective bargaining for BENEFITS; bargaining for salaries is untouched. And the seethers and haters and delinquents and hogwashers are all out, gnashing their teeth, crying for the Governor's blood.

As an old-time agnostic, I take great pleasure in my ritualized prayers for Scott Walker.

Tony Shalhoub gave money to John Edwards once. How that whole Edwards spectacle didn't make him question his lifelong assumptions, is a mystery.

No porn Mondays? How awful!

The Multnomah County Library currently has the highest budget in the country for library systems serving similar sized populations (500,000-1,000,000). With a budget of 63 million, serving 735,000 people, the per capita expenditure is $85.71. According to the Library Journal, this is 2.32 times the per capita expenditure for similar sized library systems, which is $36.92.

The Seattle Public Library has a budget that is 20% lower than MPL, yet it has a larger collection, 7 more branches and is open longer hours than MPL.

This proposed budget is a scare tactic. Ask the Multnomah County Library what they are doing with their very generous budget.

Mike - I believe you also need to include circulation numbers. Just because a library has a bazillion books, doesn't mean they ever leave the shelves. Handling books as they are checked out and returned does cost money, plus cause wear and tear on books, etc. And, the Multco library has installed self-check-out machines, and security gates as you leave with library books, at least at the Hollywood branch, so they are increasing their efficiency. And, as someone who frequents the library at least a couple of times a month, they are busy all of the time I'm there, which is evenings and/or weekends.

cc... you don't like my "allusion" to teabaggers. That's fine. You don't have to like it. What's your objection to the good, moral value to a "free public library?"

Oooh, touchy, touchy.

I wrote what I wrote - you evidently read what I didn't write. I said you would have to explain your term to dear dead Andy - that's all. Your inferences are, by definition, your own.

Since you raise the subject of a "free public librar(ies)", how about you define that term - then I'll see what, if any, objection I may have to them.

Finally, your use of "good, moral value", juxtaposed with your use of other, less "good" and questionably "moral" taunts along with your assumption of the mantle of "spokesman for the majority" seem just a teeny bit ironic. Is the majority the arbiter of everything "good and moral" in Jay's world?

We wonders...


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