I love a good library system

Byy On

Nice little slanted piece in today’s Bellingham Herald by Sam Taylor. He says “Some in the community have clamored for (library) branches…”. Clamor. Apparently we are not requesting or petitioning or even asking. We are making a lot of noise and yelling. Sam’s additional comments - er, reporting? - makes it clear that he is referring to my statements at the last library board meeting. But in following a several-years-old rule at the Herald, my name is not mentioned. And I was not asked to comment on the BOLA document - although Sam quoted several board members in statements that were critical of my statements.

And so we start another fun project - bring a little light and public knowledge to another government boondoggle. I have written the Library Director, Pam Kiesner, asking for the BOLA study - which I was denied a copy of at the October 5 board meeting. Seems the Herald can have it to write a hit piece, but a citizen cannot.

I am choosing this project for two reasons - waste of money and my love of a good library system. One, the city expects us to approve a bond issue next year for 20 to 60 million dollars for a new Taj Mahal of a central library and parking facilities - and I think that is a complete waste of money and will not solve our library needs. The second reason is I think branch libraries will take pressure off the main library, provide much better service to people and cost less - both in capital expenditures and in yearly operating costs.

I’ve done this before.
- In 1969 I started the Outdoor Learning Center at WWU - and it took a two-year effort to get it going. The program is still strong 37 years later.
- In 1978, I worked with the Freeholders to help pass the Home Rule Charter - against some strong odds. It passed and we have enjoyed a much better government in our county since.
- In 1990, I took on the Port of Bellingham over the KAP project which was a $4 million boondoggle that resulted in firings of staff, the replacement of the executive director and a completely new set of three Port Commissioners - two of whom I helped get elected. (the Herald has cooperated with the Port in never again mentioning this costly scandal)
- In 1992, the city tried to close our Fairhaven library - much loved and used. I worked with neighbors to keep the library open and then worked to stop four more attempts by the city over the next several years to close it.
- In 2000, Tip Johnson and I led the effort by residents of Happy Valley to stop Western Washington University’s effort to wipe out 17 city blocks of our neighborhood for parking and unneeded expansion. The mayor and planning commission pulled every dirty trick in the book to defeat us - but in the end we threw WWU out of our neighborhood. Lo, they found great expansion space behind Sehome Village for administrative offices and they are now looking at the waterfront area - exactly where Tip Johnson told them to look.

So, now in 2006, I will see what I can do to help my fellow citizens learn the facts of what is best for our future library system. And since the Herald is going to play dirty with poor reporting and slanting “news” articles and since the library is now showing they are more than ready to withhold vital information from the public, this is just shaping into the kind of game I enjoy. Let the game begin.

The BOLA study? Apparently something that says $1.9 million is needed to renovate the Fairhaven Library - or so the Herald story suggests. I doubt even a million is needed. But first I need to get a copy of the report.

About John Servais

Citizen Journalist and Editor • 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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