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How to close a library

By On

OK, lets rephrase this - and let's be clear about how politics works. My headline said the Fairhaven Library will close - and wow, did the city and blogs react. How dare I spread false information. No decision has been made and all options are being looked at.

So, here is a new way to say the same thing.

The Fairhaven Library will be closed unless a lot of people rise up and let the library board and city officials know they object. We need to have people at the Library Board meeting on Tuesday at 4 pm. We need many emails to the mayor - and to the City Council. Unless a strong uproar is heard, the library will be closed. Simple at that.

Let's dissect this. If I had not posted that article the library would have closed. Why? Because the mayor and the library administration have been wanting to close it for some time - and the process started anew last Tuesday. If we now have a strong objection from many people the city and library might - might - back off and not close the library.

Ask any citizen activist and they will tell you of the humorous way this works. The bureaucrats hold a meeting and decide to do something - and if a citizen speaks out then they say "Oh, you are premature - too early. We haven't decided anything yet. You are all excited about nothing. Just wait to speak at a later - correct - time."

Next, they do the 'something' and the citizen speaks out. "Oh, you are too late," they say. "You should have given your input earlier. This has been planned for days/weeks/months/years (take your pick) and has been so very carefully considered."

The news media is important for this process to work - and the Herald obliges city bureaucrats. On Friday the Herald only reported about the article on this website - without referring directly to it. If this post had not been up, you would not have read anything about this in the Herald. Yet they did have a reporter at the meeting. Typically the Herald reports to the public after the vote has been taken. Too late for any citizen to speak out. Or it will print a story the day before, giving little time to do anything. And often an article is printed on the day of the vote - giving virtually no time.

What happened last Tuesday? Did the five Trustees decide to close the Fairhaven Library? Yes. Definitely. During the hour and a half meeting, they never considered keeping it open and they each spoke of their personal decision to vote to close it. Only because one Trustee had to leave early did they delay the vote until this Tuesday, June 15. And that Trustee - Jay Gordon - made it very clear he wanted the Fairhaven Library closed. Board Chair, David Edelstein, said "I agree with Jay one hundred percent." The other three trustees mumbled their agreement in turn.

There are questions of just what was said at times. Gentle reader, you should know there was no audio or video recording made of the meeting. The minutes will not be available for two months - and are the result of a clerk taking notes. Thus, there is no accurate record of what was said. Those of us attending had to strain to hear. Some asked the Trustees to speak up but it had no impact. Yet all of us in that room watched the meeting end by deciding the "top four" items as recommended by the Library Director, Pam Keiser, would be cut and they would decide on the final two minor cuts this coming Tuesday. The Fairhaven Library closure was one of those top four.

Now - a decision can always be reversed - and that is what the article is about. But you should know the decision has been made to close the library and now they are going through the process of doing just that. Where is the mayor? Good question. No leadership there. Lets give him a nudge towards speaking out to keep the Fairhaven Library open.

About John Servais

Writer • Fairhaven, Washington USA • Member since Feb 26, 2008

John started Northwest Citizen in 1995 to inform fellow citizens of serious local political issues that the Bellingham Herald was ignoring. With the help of donors from the beginning, he has [...]

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