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LATEST UPDATES

March 2023

March LPL Board of Control Meeting

Agenda HERE

February's Minutes HERE

New Proposed Discard Policy HERE

Agenda Analysis/Talking Points For Those Who Wish to Speak:

  • Minutes of the February Meeting -

    • the minutes as written simply state "The meeting was recessed for ten minutes." This should be amended to state that the meeting was recessed because Robert Judge ordered a library employee to project images from books that disrupted the room and interrupted the conducting of business by the library board of control.

  • Proposed Discard Policy-

    • Until now, discards have been handled by library staff; the library board's involvement has consisted of simply approving the discards each month. This is a formality, really - City-Parish ordinances require the Parish Council to approve the disposal of all public property, and a number of years ago the councils voted to allow the library board to approve book discards as a way to expedite the process rather than take up an agenda item every month. Over the past couple of years, however, board member Stephanie Armbruster has continually questioned both the procedure and the number of discards. Her questions usually center around the reason for the discards - are they being discarded because of condition or because they were "obsolete?" Having a penchant for ultra-right wing conspiracy theories coupled with no training whatsoever in library science, she seemed to be implying that the library was deliberately discarding books for nefarious purposes - possibly to get rid of conservative titles. Now, of course, her time has come, and with a majority of votes on the board and a president who aims to turn our public library into some sort of ecclesiastical annex, she's written a new discard policy to be voted on. Our position is twofold: 1) We not NEED a discard policy, as the procedure followed by our trained library staff has and is working just fine. This is yet another example of the board attempting to micromanage library operations in a way that is not only unnecessary, but prohibitive. Limiting discards by forcing staff to perform calculations and count books will waste more staff hours and goes against established principles of library science. 2) What Ms. Armbruster is suggesting may, in fact, be illegal because it is breaking city-parish ordinances. Has anyone even checked to see if the Board of Control has the authority to set limits on the disposition of city-parish property or alter the original agreement made with the Parish Council?

  • Any Other Matter Not on This Agenda

    • Last Month's Changes to Collection Development​

      • It's clear by reading the minutes and the new LPL Collection Development Policy that the board did not understand what they were voting on at the last meeting. Aside from the fact that the board violated LA Open Meetings laws by combining two separate agenda items (this was supposed to require a vote and public comment,) the new policy is completely contradictory and unenforceable by library staff. On the one hand, the Collection Development Policy states that "the library restricts R and NC-17 classified DVDs/movies, and any sexually explicit material to adult users only to view or to check out to those patrons 17 years of age or older." In other words, no one under 17 can VIEW OR CHECK OUT any material with sexual content. On the other hand, the new card policy states "Parents or guardians may opt for  their children to be issued a restricted card that cannot checkout adult materials.   Sexually explicit materials shall not be included/shelved in the Children’s Collection." So children CAN sign up non-restricted cards. It makes no sense. None.

    • EV Chargers Have Been Turned Off at West Regional Library​

      • Per Director Danny Gillane, he decided arbitrarily to turn off the EV chargers at West Regional library this week. Of course, this would have nothing to do with the complaints we've heard​ over the past 1.5 years from Judge et al about how the library shouldn't be in the business of providing things like library cards to out of parish residents, 3-D printers, musical instruments, and...charging stations for electric vehicles.

      • Lafayette Electrical Discussion, a local group which advocates for sustainable power solutions, offered the following information/talking points regarding the EV chargers at West Regional:

        • ​​​Please turn on the EV chargers, they help promote the library and are not a gratuitous donation of public funds.

        • A 1 hour charging session may use less than $1 in electricity.

        • This is Lafayette Parishes' first public electric vehicle charger, and the library has a "transportation" theme.

        • The chargers are open to all EV types.

        • Since its opening in 2019, it has achieved a lifetime rating of "10", a perfect score, from PlugShare electric vehicle users for being a great location, and providing excellent service, and amenities.

        • According to PlugShare reviews, tourists from out-of-town have relied on these chargers to visit Lafayette Parish and Louisiana, providing a hospitable welcome to Acadiana.

        • Local residents also use the chargers on a regular basis.

        • You can read more PlugShare reviews, here:

        • Lafayette Parish Libraries received the chargers for free under an agreement with Tesla. The Library may be violating its terms of use for receiving these chargers by turning them off.

        • The chargers have been turned off citing La. Const. art VII, sect. 14(A) that "things of value of the state or of any political subdivision shall not be loaned, pledged, or donated to or for any person, association, or corporation, public or private." However, the Attorney General's office and the Louisiana Legislative Auditor have determined that activities used to "promote" a library, such as a free movie night with free popcorn and drinks, or coffee and donuts, are legal. The EV chargers are a way to promote the library.

        • Two years ago, the Lafayette Mayor President asked the Louisiana Attorney General if it is permissible for the city to buy coffee for employees. The Attorney General responded saying that coffee isn't a gratuitous donation, and is acceptable. Turning off the EV chargers is just another misunderstanding of what a "gratuitous" donation is. A one-hour charging session costs about $1 in electricity use.

    • Northeast Regional Library Update​​

      • Yet another month has gone by without significant movement on the Northeast Regional Library project. The last update stated that there were appraisal issues with the property selected by the NE Committee and approved by the board, and two other properties had come forward with possible offers. However, the public has not heard details of those other two properties, the offers, or whether any of those three deals have been looked at or worked out. Where does the process stand? Why does it appear to be taking so long? The people of ​the Northside community deserve to be kept informed.

Cara Chance Exonerated in Civil Service Appeal

 

On March 15, Cara Chance was finally able to appeal her 7-day suspension without pay before the Lafayette Consolidated Government's Civil Service Board. The meeting was long, lasting from 5:30pm until 9:00pm, with several witnesses called to testify about the series of incidents leading up to Cara's suspension. Though library personnel and even LCG's HR rep tried their best to substantiate the bogus claim of "insubordination" laid out against Cara by Judge (ahem, sorry, by her supervisors, Sarah Monroe and Danny Gillane), their case fell apart upon further examination. In fact, according to news accounts, by the end of the meeting it was clear that Cara was actually the person subjected to insubordination by her employees at the branch she manages.

 

Instead of helping her with this situation, her supervisors attempted to gaslight and discredit her.

 

Thankfully, the Civil Service Board Members were able to see through the claims being made against her, and the suspension was overturned. They did not, unfortunately, vote to expunge her record completely (as they should have), but instead chose to reduce the charge to a letter of reprimand. For what, I can't imagine. Frustration in the face of MONTHS of continued attempts at being removed from your job simply for exercising your First Amendment right to Free Speech is understandable, to say the least.

We continue to support Cara in her work, her advocacy, and in her fight to keep her job and clear her name. If you'd like to help her too, please consider a contribution to her GoFundMe.

Citizens File Suit Against Robert Judge and Lafayette Consolidated Government

On Tuesday, March 7, LCAC co-founders Lynette Mejía and Melanie Brevis filed suit against Robert Judge and Lafayette Consolidated Government for infringing on their right to Free Speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The suit is based on two things. First are the rules put in place last year by Judge, which we've discussed here in depth before: posting signs with disturbing the peace statutes on the doors to the library; prohibiting the mentioning of board members by name; and posting armed sheriff's deputies on either side of the board table during meetings. Second is the incident we posted about in the January meeting recap, when Mr. Judge had Ms. Brevis removed from the board meeting simply for saying things during her 3-minute public speech he did not want to hear. 

Ms. Mejía and Ms. Brevis are asking that the rules which are infringing upon the public's right to speak be rescinded, and that both the board members and LCG staff are given training in First Amendment principles so that this situation is avoided in the future. They are also asking for attorney's fees and damages. 

Open book is on fire, pages are engulfed in flames. Concept of censorship, prohibition of

March's Censorship News

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