Destructive ploys

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Aug. 21 I attended my first Library Users Coalition meeting. Coalition leaders were introduced to the audience, a list of accomplishments handed out and seven minutes were spent on the evening’s topic — benefits of annexation.

The rest of the evening promoted a consolidation plan that would provide “one central downtown library with improved outer branch libraries” (from the “Be Active ... be Pro-Active” handout).

“Because of the property tax limitation,” moderator Karen Anderson said, “the city can no longer support the city library.” Despite marketing efforts by the Walla Walla Public Library, the City Council remains unmoved in its priorities.

The LUC related meetings with the City Council. Members are encouraged by the Council’s support. They are appreciative of help given in redefining their strategy and objectives. The LUC has been exploring and promoting annexation.

Now it is committed to a recall of the Rural Library District Board, blocking of RLD building plans and the creation of a new RLD Board based on representation by jurisdiction populations. County tax revenues must be redirected to save the Walla Walla Public Library.

The audience was invited to participate in this campaign. We could sign and distribute a resolution titled “Declaration of Support ...,” we could contact a member who would write letters to the Union-Bulletin on its behalf; we could join Coalition leaders in disrupting the RLD Board executive session planned for the next day. Because time is of the essence, the LUC has already requested of county commissioners replacement of RLD Board members.

If the LUC is successful in discrediting the existing Board, blocking building plans and appointment of a new Board with a majority from the city, the new RLD Board will inherit the District’s $3 million building fund. Dan Clark, legal counsel for the LUC, related the fund could then be used to buy, remodel and staff the Walla Walla Public Library as needed for its new role as a county library administration and collection center.

It was a very instructive meeting regarding the overriding motivation. Less clear is the LUC’s current interest in an annexation model that would bring together the fragmented nature of current library services in the county under experienced and stable leadership. Surely, there are enough library users in Walla Walla to impact city budget decisions for the common good and “save” the WWPL.

Jack Lenihan

Walla Walla

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