Special Board of Control Meeting (9/11/23)
Proposed Bylaws Changes HERE
Speaker Forms HERE. (Fill out a form for each item you wish to speak on. Forms will also be available at the meeting)
Some of this information is the same as it was for August, with a couple of important changes:
Robert Judge is no longer President of the library board. In the wake of the scandal from last month's botched firing of former Director Danny Gillane, Judge stepped down. Our expectation is that, as Vice President, James Thomas will take over as presiding officer until elections can be held in October. Who knows with this board, though. As of Sunday, September 10, Robert Judge was still listed as board president on the library website.
The Parish Council has ordered the board to purchase this land. However, when crafting the agenda in his last act as president, Judge said that the board would "discuss land options" and "take action." It's carefully crafted to include leasing a space as an option, which we all know Judge wants to do. My guess is that he will try to convince the other board members that they should do this as a way to gauge "usage statistics" before they decide what kind of library to build, which has been the line we've been hearing for the last six months or so.
This is a new story, however. Judge has ALWAYS been in favor of a lease. From the beginning, he wanted to lease OUTRIGHT instead of buying land and constructing a brick-and-mortar building. His motive is to try and prove that the northeast side of the parish doesn't have enough usage to justify the "taxpayer expense" behind building a freestanding library, and that we should, instead, continue to simply lease a library long term. He's gotten his statistics from a library patron who quotes e-check out numbers instead of door counts, which is where the usage of the library is more accurately gauged. We need to point this out to the other board members, and make sure they aren't fooled by his false appeals to authority.
So what do we need to do?
Show up, in crowds. Speak up, if you can. Tell them how important the Northeast Library is to our community - not only the NE, but to ALL of us, because we ALL value libraries and what they give to all of us. A rising tide lifts all boats.
The statistics used to argue for a lease are not correct. The library counts patrons by door counts, not check-outs.
Any money used to retrofit and get a leased space ready to be used as a library would have to come from the $8 million set aside for construction of the new library. We've already had to scuttle plans to build a library warehouse due to rising construction costs. Using more money on leasing costs would further reduce the size of the final library.
Due to the parish council's decision not to roll up the library's millage, the budget is razor thin for the upcoming year. Operating a leased space while simultaneously operating all current locations and attempting to keep the library in a position to operate the new library could put the system in a financial red zone that would force the further postponement or canceling of the project.
Devoting staff time and resources retrofitting and staffing a space for lease would further strain staff availability for the larger library project, adding more delays to a project that is far over budget on time. The community has waited long enough.
There's one other thing on the agenda for September 11. Here's the rundown:
In case you missed it, last spring Michael Lunsford got pissed because the Mayor-President's Board of Control appointee, Marquise Watson, had the radical idea to make the new tiered cards proposed by Judge and Armbruster OPT-IN, meaning they weren't FORCED onto parents. He got so pissed that he immediately went and whined to Josh Carlson. He also did some digging, and discovered that our board membership is out of sync with other library boards in the state, which are appointed by parish councils. BOOM! Suddenly, OUT OF THE BLUE, Josh Carlson decides our Board of Control membership needs to be brought in line with state law! This has nothing to do with Marquise Watson's vote! This is a total coincidence!
Turns out our Home Rule Charter does allow a mayor-president appointee, but whatever. We do what we want to get what we want, amirite?
What can we do?
Not much, to be honest. This just another example of Parish Council and Board of Control collusion, of the far right not getting their way and so changing the rules in order to do so. That's ok, though. We're definitely keeping score.
September's Censorship News
Lafayette library board votes to buy land to build Northeast Regional Library (Acadiana Advocate)