Message from City Librarian: 2012 Budget Update

On Monday, November 14, the Denver City Council will vote to pass the City's 2012 budget. After much discussion and negotiation, we are anticipating that the Library's budget will essentially remain flat for 2012. If approved, we will have the same service levels as 2011 (outlined in my last blog post), and the new branch in Stapleton will be open 32 hours per week.

Also, you may have seen in the Denver Post recently that Mayor Hancock opposed Councilman Chris Herndon’s potential amendment to increase funding for the Denver Public Library in 2012 in order to support additional hours at branches that serve the poorer neighborhoods in Denver. At the November 7 City Council meeting, Councilman Herndon decided not to bring this amendment forward. And while the Mayor did not support this amendment, he is however a strong supporter of libraries, and maintains his commitment to finding a long-term funding solution, rather a quick fix for only some of the branches in 2012.

Although we are not receiving additional funding for service expansion in 2012, we are pleased that we are not closing any branches. It is apparent that the Mayor and City Council recognize the importance of libraries and the dire need for a long-term sustainable funding solution.

We will continue to work with the City administration and the public on finding the best solution to ensure the future of Denver Public Library. We expect more direction from the Mayor and his Structural Financial Task Force in early 2012.

Comments

I am sorry to say that I found this paragraph incomprehensible:

"Also, you may have seen in the Denver Post recently that Mayor Hancock opposed Councilman Chris Herndon’s potential amendment to increase funding for the Denver Public Library in 2012 in order to support additional hours at branches that serve the poorer neighborhoods in Denver. At the November 7 City Council meeting, Councilman Herndon decided not to bring this amendment forward. And while the Mayor did not support this amendment, he is however a strong supporter of libraries, and maintains his commitment to finding a long-term funding solution, rather a quick fix for only some of the branches in 2012."

If the mayor is a strong supporter of libraries, why did he not support Councilman Herndon's amendment?

"I am sorry to say that I found this paragraph incomprehensible"

Guess you aren't as literate as you thought. Try READING the paragraph. Especially the part where Councilman Herndon decided NOT to bring up the amendment. Up the Ritilan, skippy.

Hmm. Could it be that YOU should read the paragraph again? The Mayor did not support Herndon's amendment. That's true whether Herndon dropped it or not. In fact, the paragraph suggests, though doesn't say it clearly, that after the Mayor refused to support the amendment, Herndon dropped it.

Hi- I just spoke to Councilman Herndon about this and he said that he did not put the Amendment forward because he didn't have the full support of City Council.

Additionally, if you have questions for Mayor Hancock about why he didn't support the (potential) Amendment, you can email him at:

milehighmayor@denvergov.org

So, if I understand this, Herndon did not put his amendment forward because he didn't have full City Council support. But the statement in the blog about the Mayor supporting libraries revolves around the Mayor's failure to support Herndon's amendment not whether Council supported it.

I still don't understand why the librarian can say the Mayor is "a strong supporter of libraries" when he didn't support the Herndon amendment.

Sounds like an argument over semantics to me. Can't the Mayor support libraries without supporting the amendment? Are they mutually exclusive? As I recall, the library was considering separating from the city by forming some sort of district of their own, but backed away at the mayor's request, and a promise from him to find a longer lasting solution to fund the library. Sounds like you need to hold Mayor Hancock's feet to the fire on this and not the library. They've always been a great service for me, and some of these comments make it sound like the city librarian doesn't care about the future of the place. To me, that seems ludicrous.

"Can't the Mayor support libraries without supporting the amendment? Are they mutually exclusive?"

In theory, yes. But if that's the situation, it requires more explanation than is in the blog post. That's what I have been asking for.

The evidence in the blog post seems to weigh against the post's rosy characterization of the mayor. There was a proposal to give the library more money this year and the mayor didn't support it. A reasonable inference from that is that the mayor is something less than a "strong supporter of libraries." The post doesn't explain why the librarian would characterize the mayor as a "strong" supporter of libraries unless she thinks that somehow getting some more -- and truly needed -- money in the budget for this year somehow precludes longterm financing. And I can't understand how that could be the case.

As to holding the mayors' feet to the fire, I'm happy to. But the librarian shouldn't shirk her duty to tell us the truth about the situation. She should not characterize a mayor who refused additional money to the library as a "strong supporter of libraries" unless she can explain the apparent inconsistency.

And as a practical matter, if the librarian goes around telling the public that the mayor is a strong supporter of libraries in generally laudatory blog posts, how many people are going to hold the mayor accountable when the libraries are underfunded? If the librarian says it's not the mayor's fault, why should anyone hold the mayor's feet to the fire?

Mean-spirited!

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