LPL Board of Control
April Regular Meeting Information
To see the April Meeting Agenda, Click HERE.
To hear the April Meeting Audio, Click HERE.
18 April 2022
To say this meeting was chaotic was, perhaps, the understatement of the century, and that's saying a lot, given this board's history. Right off the top, board member Doug Palombo was suspiciously absent. (We later learned he'd resigned just before the meeting.)
As usual, the meeting began with a lengthy Christian prayer led by board President Robert Judge - this time including a group recitation of The Lord's Prayer. Prior to the meeting's opening, member of the public Matt Humphrey requested permission to say his own opening prayer (in addition to Judge's), but was denied by Judge, who said that members of the public were only allowed to speak during public comment periods at the end.
The first item to come up for discussion and vote was the proposed changes to the bylaws, and their consequent re-votes. Our issues with these bylaws changes are outlined below.
Before any action was taken, however, board member Landon Boudreaux jumped up and quickly exited the room. Did he have some other, more important appointment at the same time?
After a lengthy discussion and public comment period, which included input from several citizen attorneys present, the decision was made to table the item and the subsequent re-votes. This was followed by a (legal? illegal? who knows?) recess called by board President Judge, while everyone got themselves together and the board leadership figured out what to do next.
During the recess, AV equipment was brought in, and the DVD up for Reconsideration appeal, Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood, was set up and put on the room's large presentation screen, to maximum dramatic effect. When the recess ended, however, president Judge informed us that the board's attorney had told him that the film was too graphic to be shown as evidence in the appeal. During the discussion, it was also revealed that the person who had brought the complaint hadn't even bothered to come back for the appeal, which, to me, seems like one of those rules that should perhaps be created if it doesn't already exist. If you file for an appeal, you need to appear in person for that appeal, or the appeal is denied. (I mean, that just seems obvious.)
In any case, after another lengthy discussion and public comment period, board members decided to label the unrated documentary "NC-17," a designation which will trigger a flag in the check-out system for any patron younger than that age attempting to check it out. This seemed to be a good compromise for the more moderate (and luckily, more numerous) members of the board, and, seeing that their cause was lost, even Judge and Armbruster joined with the group voting for the new motion to reclassify the documentary rather than remove it.
Once again, the room was packed with members of the public fighting for free speech and the preservation of materials and books in our library, though we did notice a disturbing trend--this month there was a definite uptick in the number of people who showed up ready to sign in and speak on behalf of having what they termed "filth" removed from the library. Where they've suddenly come from is hard to say, other than to note that our efforts are being noticed and the opposition is becoming worried, and so are marshaling efforts to stand against the principles of freedom and the First Amendment which we hold so dear. Therefore, it's crucially important now more than ever that we continue to stay informed about what happens at our beloved library, continue to support our librarians, and continue to spread the word. Continue to write letters. Continue to call. Most importantly, continue to show up and make your voices heard.
Because we are being heard. As one board member angrily pointed out at the meeting,
"No books have actually been banned at this library!!!"
And when he said that I looked around at all the strong, supportive, committed people around me. I had to smile just a little bit, because I thought, "You know what? He's absolutely right."
14 April 2022
The agenda for April's LPL Board of Control regular monthly meeting was released, as usual, at the last possible legal moment - 3:30pm on Thursday, April 14th (Friday was a state and local holiday).
Needless to say, it was a doozy, chock full of items which, if passed, are guaranteed to further this board's mission of remaking the Board of Control into a machine designed to have total dominance over the library's programming and collections, and narrowing the chances that their core ultra-right evangelical conservative voting block will ever lose a vote. If passed, these changes (explained more fully below) will almost certainly cement a years-long legacy of censorship and suppression of the free exchange of ideas which are outside their belief system.
1. First up are changes to the board's bylaws. Somehow, the board seems to have been made aware that many of their recent votes violated their own bylaws, which states that for a resolution to pass, it must be pass with a "majority of the votes of all members of the Board." Since a majority of the board (which consists of 8 members) would be 5, that means that many recent votes, including the vote to change Section X, are invalid.
However, when they went back to look at the bylaws, they also seem to have discovered that their rules regarding what constituted a quorum (the number of members required to be present to conduct business) were so old that they were illegal according to state Open Meetings laws. So, they'd have to fix that.
But hey, why not also take the opportunity for a power grab, right?
So, the board has decided to not only update their bylaws regarding quorums to put them in line with state law, but they are also redefining the numbers of members needed to pass resolutions. As it stands now, resolutions require a simple majority of ALL MEMBERS OF THE BOARD, that is, 5 of 8 members, to pass. Proposed changes would only require the majority of the quorum. So, theoretically, if 5 members of the board show up to a meeting, they have a quorum and can conduct business. Then, if someone wants to pass a motion, for example, to remove all R-rated movies from the library (this is just an example), they would only need a majority of those 5 to pass it, i.e. 3 votes). THREE VOTES. Out of 8 total board members.
Does that sound like democracy to you?
Given that these changes were given to the public literally an hour before the whole state shut down for a long holiday weekend, it's been hard to find legal counsel who could help us figure out what we could do to stop them from making this change. And of course, that's by design. We'll pretty much just have Monday to mount a defense.
2. Second, we have new business. Some of this is re-voting on things that were invalid because the board wasn't following its own bylaws.
A. The board is going to vote again on an RFP for a lease option for the new Northeast Library. The Northeast Exploratory Committee voted to recommend a Brick and Mortar option only. The board voted to accept that recommendation. They should vote the same way, but my guess is they will try and change this one. Several members of the board wanted to "keep the lease option open" though community members vehemently and repeatedly stated this is not what they wanted.
B. Appeal of the Reconsideration Committee - Scotty & the Secret History of Hollywood. This is a direct censorship issue. We are absolutely against removing this DVD from the library's collection, and will be lobbying hard to keep it on the shelves.
C. Bayouland Card Fee - the board recently voted to charge out-of-parish patrons $20 per year to borrow materials from the library, despite a packed room full of people begging them not to do that, plus numerous letters to the editor of local newspapers and letters to the board. This vote will also be recast due to its invalidation from the board not following its own bylaws.
D. Collection Development Policy - in my mind, this is the most critical vote with regards to censorship. This is our second (and possibly final) shot at Section X. You can read the editorial I wrote for The Current HERE, but it's absolutely critical that the Reconsideration Committees have a majority of librarians on them. Every single item that comes up for Reconsideration will be pulled from the shelves without a whisper if this policy is changed. We will keep fighting, of course, but this is our opportunity to possibly slow them down just the smallest amount.
I know this is ALOT of information to digest. If you have questions, definitely reach out, either here, or on Twitter or Facebook.