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vote no on prop. 81

friday, may 19, 2006

every member of the editorial board is a writer, a reader and a lover of libraries. nevertheless, by a narrow margin, the editorial board opposes proposition 81, the california reading and literacy improvement and library construction bond act of 2006.

this measure would issue a bond for $600,000,000 to provide funds for the construction and renovation of public libraries. these funds would be released piecemeal as grants to the libraries deemed most in need of reconstruction. gilroy is likely to qualify for such a grant, which will pay for most of the construction of a sorely needed larger new library.

nonetheless, we oppose the measure, for several reasons. in no particular order:

california is drowning in debt. it would be the height of fiscal irresponsibility to tack another $1.2 billion onto the debt that we, our children,and our grandchildren will be paying for the next 30 years.

the statewide measure is too big and too comprehensive: "a big enchilada."

the grant money will be parceled out to libraries all over the state, and although we readily agree that gilroy could use a larger library, we have no idea if we agree that some other library in another city needs renovation. we would rather pass a local bond, if it were linked to local control.

speaking of local control i? 1/2 even after six years, it still rankles that our librarians refused and continue to refuse to adopt a policy prohibiting access to pornography by minors on library internet terminals. when every day new incidents reveal the ease with which sexual predators solicit children online, any claims that the library is a safe place for kids ring hollow. the values espoused by the american library association are so divorced from the values of our community that we would seriously consider withdrawing from the joint powers authority and going back to the days of a city library under local control, rather than giving one thin dime to an institution controlled by an organization that believes in "all materials for all patrons regardless of age."

for those reasons, we urge a no vote on proposition 81.

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