Archives for posts with tag: Hunt Branch Library
Goldberg Library Variations

By staff consultant Rube Goldberg

Matthew Leslie

The Fullerton City Council is having another go at the Library Board appointment process Tuesday night, October 2. “Based on community input on September 18, 2018, the Mayor requests that the City Council discuss, and members of the public to provide input, into an alternate process for appointing members of the Library Board of Trustees“ reads the Staff Report accompanying the Agenda (reproduced below).

While it is true that the community criticized the City Council for not asking the volunteer library support groups Friends of the Library or the Fullerton Library Foundation for their respective opinions on the idea of needlessly changing the Trustee appointment process, as far as we know, nobody ever asked for an alternative process in the first place, other than City Councilmemeber Jennifer Fitzgerald. On May 1 she unilaterally suggested that the City Council appoint themselves as Trustees and create what would essentially be a subservient and powerless Library Advisory Board. What the community did two weeks ago at the last City Council meeting was to roundly reject this idea the Council making themselves the Trustees when we said to just leave the Library Board alone. The community did not say to try to solve a problem that doesn’t exist by terminating a perfectly clear and functional process by which members of the City Council each appoint a Trustee from the community to serve as Trustees.

Like the last agenda two weeks ago, this one does not specify anywhere why any change at all to the Library Board appointment process is needed. As far as we can tell, it is just another solution–and probably a bad one–looking for a problem.

The Staff Report continues…“Such a process could include stakeholders in the Library to include the Friends of the Library, the Library Foundation, and local school districts. A panel of stakeholders could then make a recommendation to the City Council for appointment as Library Board of Trustee appointments become available.” One would hope that members of the City Council were already consulting with these groups when considering appointments to the Library Board, but if it must be codified that people who know a thing or two about the library ought to be listened to, then such an action  seems harmless enough…

…unless, the whole thing is just cover for a majority of the City Council to control the Library Board outright. As it now stands, each Councilmember appoints a single Trustee to a five member Board. This arrangement ensures that the balance of the Library Board reflects the balance on the Council, which is as balanced as the electorate collectively sees fit to make it. If another process is adopted whereby the entire council must approve appointees recommended by the Library Foundation or Friends of the Library, a bare majority will be able to make all five appointments. This is not a strategy for making the Library Board more “independent,” as Mayor Doug Chaffee suggested during his attempted damage control at the last meeting.*

One possible method of adding informed voices to the Library Board would be to allow the Library Foundation and the Friends of the Library each an ex-officio seat on the Board, but allowing them to directly appoint members with voting power changes the way the library is governed, and any such change should be justified somewhere in an agenda report, but isn’t at this time. It’s still a mystery why this entire issue is being bought forth in the first place.

*And since when does Doug Chaffee care so much about a more independent Library Board? He objected to any member of the current Library Board serving on the 2018 Library Ad Hoc Committee, claiming they were too “biased” about what to do with the Hunt Branch. The 2012 Library Ad Hoc Committee included all five Trustees as members.

100218 ADM Library Board Appointment Process Agenda Report

100218 ADM Library Board Appointment Process Agenda Report2

Sept 17 2018 Letter to Council v2

Letter to the Fullerton City Council from Fullerton’s Library Board of Trustees

Matthew Leslie

Tonight at an emergency meeting at Fullerton’s Main Library, the Library Board of Trustees adopted a strong statement against a proposal that members of the Fullerton City Council appoint themselves as Trustees of the Library instead of members of the public. The proposed change is to be considered at the regular meeting of the Fullerton City Council on Tuesday, September 18, 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Unilaterally suggested by Council Member Jennifer Fitzgerald during a May 1 meeting, the proposal has met with nearly universal condemnation, prompting the obvious question of why Ms. Fitzgerald would risk such political damage on something so high profile with so little seeming chance of success. Two other votes would be necessary to pass the item, and even Mayor Doug Chaffee, who frequently votes with Jennifer Fitzgerald, seems doubtful about that happening. In a Voice of OC story today he is quoted as saying:

‘“I’m unaware of any one of us wanting to take it over,” Chaffee said. “I don’t see support for it.”’

Like Jennifer Fitzgerald, however, Doug Chaffee favors selling off the Hunt Branch Library, and is quoted in the same article in reference to its possible sale:

‘Chaffee said, should the city sell the Hunt building, some of the money would go back to the library system. “It is city property for the council to decide on, without the library board,” Chaffee said.,’ revealing that our current mayor thinks it is perfectly fine to take property gifted as a branch of the Fullerton Public Library, sell it, and keep at least some of the money to use for whatever purposes the City Council decided would be appropriate.

The same day, the Trustees met to discuss both the proposed takeover and the utter lack of consultation about it with their body or the Fullerton Library Foundation or Friends of the Fullerton Library. Even Joshua Dale, Ms. Fitzgerald’s own appointee to the Library Board, speculates in the same Voice of OC story that the city’s general need for money is behind the proposal, revealing that she evidently hadn’t even consulted with him on the plan. According to the Voice of OC, “Fitzgerald did not return a phone call Monday seeking comment.”

The text of the Trustees’ letter in opposition to Jennifer Fitzgerald’s proposal is below, co-signed by her own appointee:

“September 17, 2018
Dear Mayor Chaffee and the Honorable Members of the Fullerton City Council:
The Fullerton Public Library has been governed by an administrative Board of Trustees for over one hundred years. In that time, generations of Fullertonians turned billions of pages of millions of books, but more importantly the Fullerton Public Library has been supplemented in its mission through the open hearts of volunteers and the open wallets of its generous patrons.
We find it deeply disturbing that the City Council would direct staff to prepare an ordinance to replace a century of precedent concerning the library’s governance without collecting input from the individuals and associations deeply invested with making the library the success that it is today.
The Council has not made its case for change, so it is impossible for this Board to offer a constructive argument for why it ought to justify its own existence, but the purposeful exclusion of the Library’s support groups from this important conversation does not require an argument to understand its obvious offense. The City Manager and the City Attorney had ample time and ability to include supporters and volunteers in this process. They chose not to. We strongly object.
Should the Council desire to assume direct management of the City Library, it ought to start with an inclusive conversation and receive input from its volunteers and supporters.
If the Council has a case for change, we invite an open and transparent discussion in the form of a joint meeting with the Library Board of Trustees. We traditionally include the Friends of the Fullerton Library and the Fullerton Library Foundation in all our discussions.
As such, we insist they have a seat at the table when discussing the future of our free and public library. Until this conversation occurs, it is in the best interest of the City and the Library to table decisions related to how our hundred-year library operates, serves its patrons, and promotes continuing lifelong learning.
Sincerely,
Sean Paden, President, FPL Carl Byers, Vice-Chair, FPLJoshua Dale, Trustee, FPL Ellen Ballard, Trustee, FPL Ryan Cantor, Trustee, FPL”

Fitzgerald Coyote Hills 714

Jennifer Fitzgerald’s war on Fullerton’s library should be stopped now.

Matthew Leslie

Back in May the Rag reported that Fullerton City Council member Jennifer Fitzgerald during the Council’s May 1 meeting requested that the council agendize an item to consider replacing Fullerton’s Library Board of Trustees with the city council members themselves:

“I do want to bring the library board code sections up to date. I want to add to that we institute a new organizational structure for the library board that calls for the appointment of the city council members to serve as the trustees to the library board and to form a library advisory commission.”

At the time no other member of the City Council commented on her request, letting it pass like the ravings of a demented relative at the dinner table. When asked privately about it, another member the Council responded that no one else supported the idea. But, five months later, the item has nonetheless made its way on to the Council’s September 18 meeting as part of the ongoing initiative to restructure Fullerton’s Committees and Commissions,

CITY OF FULLERTON BOARD / COMMISSION / COMMITTEE REORGANIZATION
Fullerton City Council | Successor Agency Agenda September 18, 2018 – Page 4

“Ongoing implementation of City Council’s final direction regarding boards, commissions and committees, specifically elimination of Planning Commissioner stipends, changes to the Library Board of Trustees and creation of a Library Advisory Commission and Active Transportation Committee.”

The staff reports explains that: “The attached draft code amendments reflect City Council direction provided at the May meeting in which the City Council directed Staff to return to the Council with code updates regarding the Library Board of Trustees as well as having the City Council serve as the Library Board of Trustees in the future.” So, no one on the City Council stopped the idea either.

The effort to restructure Fullerton’s commissions and committees goes back to the Joe Felz days, and some actions to that end have already been taken by the City Council. Though discussed for staff direction at the May 1 meeting, however, this latest round of restructuring options has taken many by surprise–including all three boards serving the library. Neither the Fullerton Library Foundation, who privately raise funds for the library, The Friends of Fullerton Library, who operate its bookstore and organize its periodic books sales, nor the Library Board of Trustees themselves were consulted about the idea or even apprised of its imminent appearance before the Council next Tuesday night. That’s a lot of people, and they are not happy about it.

The city staff’s proposed ordinance calls for replacing parts of the Fullerton Municipal Code (FMC)’s section on the Fullerton Public Library with language that establishes a Library Advisory Committee, but makes no mention of the City Council populating the Library Board with their own membership, presumably because it isn’t legally necessary–it’s just that no one ever does it, because there is no reason to do so. My mistake. It actually does say:

“2.16.020 Library Board – Appointment – Term.

The Fullerton Public Library shall be managed by a Board of Library Trustees consisting of five members appointed by the City Council. Appointees shall be current members of the City Council.” (Boldface added).

The staff report calls for “replacing current Library Board of Trustees members with current City Council Members as Trustee’s terms expire,” meaning that some Council members could begin serving as Library Trustees as early as December.

This unilaterally proposed action cannot help being seen in light of Jennifer Fitzgerald’s support for selling the Hunt Branch Library and her other recent outlying suggestion that the Orange County Public Library system take over Fullerton’s century old plus library.

Adopting the proposed changes would effectively reduce the Library Board to serve only in an advisory capacity, altering a practice dating back to 1901, before Fullerton was itself even incorporated. Amendments governing the Library Board of Trustees date to five years later in 1906, and, for what its worth, specifically hold that “Men and women shall be equally eligible to” to be appointed–that’s fourteen years before women even had the right to vote in elections in this country, for those of you counting.

And for what purpose? In May Jennifer Fitzgerald gave no rationale whatsoever for the City Council to appoint itself as members of the Board of Trustees, but somehow this change to 112 years of the Council appointing members of the public to serve as Trustees to the library has appeared on a City Council agenda anyway. This unprecedented and unwarranted change should be adamantly opposed by all members of Fullerton’s City Council until and unless some compelling reason is given for the change–and it would have to be a really compelling reason at that. Further, members of the City Council should be more proactive in stopping wastes of staff, City Attorney, Council, Library Trustees, and public time if none other than one of their number seriously support idiotic ideas like this one in the fist place.

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