Group calls for library board ouster

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WALLA WALLA — The Library Users Coalition have asked county commissioners to replace the entire Board of Trustees of the Walla Walla County Rural Library District.

The request was made at Monday’s commissioner meeting because the coalition feels the board violated Washington State open meeting laws when trustees decided to not support annexation of the city into the district for at least three years.

In their complaint, coalition members noted trustees never held a public meeting to discuss that decision and thus decided the matter in private.

Earlier this month, the coalition asked city officials to draft a resolution that would be used in a vote by the public over joining the Walla Walla County Rural Library Taxing District.

Under state law, district trustees have the right to deny a proposal for annexation.

In an Aug. 8 letter to the Walla Walla City Council, RLD trustees chairwoman Sandra Bradley wrote “The RLD will not support any annexation proposal at this time” and said the district would move forward with a 3- to 5-year strategic plan.

Bradley’s letter ended with asking city official to “respect the board’s decision.”

The coalition contends the letter proves trustees made their decision against annexation in private, which is illegal.

The coalition added it could not find records in minutes for two other key decisions by trustees: the approval of the Plaza Way branch and approval of the recently proposed $3.6 million suburban Walla Walla library.

Rural Library District Director Aletha Bonebrake said trustees never voted specifically on annexation but had publicly approved a working-group report that had detailed the district’s stand on annexation.

That report was the result of several closed meetings from February to June between city and RLD officials, who studied collaborative and joint funding options.

“The board never asked and never voted on that (annexation) question. The decision was made on the findings, which were determined through the working group. And the board simply accepted their findings,” Bonebrake said.

Bradley could not be reached for comment before press time today.

On Monday, commissioners accepted the coalition’s request for removal of the trustees and said they would refer the matter to legal counsel.

Alfred Diaz can be reached at alfreddiaz@wwub.com or 526-8325.

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