Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Dead Men Don't Check Out Library Books

Go figure. Try and explain this if you can.

Compare this:
  • "A proposal to cut funding to arts groups, such as the symphony, the art gallery and Artcite, by 10 per cent was pulled off the table Tuesday, during a marathon budget session that went long into the night...

    Council averted controversy on arts funding by deciding to maintain funding at 2007 levels."

With this:

  • "City council has reduced the library’s 2008 $8.7-million budget by $400,000 — less than the $790,000 councillors originally suggested — and is insisting the cuts be made without cutting branches or hours, creating a sticky situation for library board members.

I would have thought that Council should be applauding the efforts of the Library system. In fact, I would have thought that Council probably should have asked the Library to send some of their people to Fleet Operations to help them out. After all, there was never a controversy about the possibility of dead people checking out items from the Library.

I'm sure that you remember that when the audit that was undertaken of the Library system came out, it was quite glowing about how well that group ran their operation. Compare that with the mess that Fleet is in. It seems to me that Council should be spending more time worrying about Fleet then about the Library but what the heck do I know.

I have never understood what the issue is between the Library and Council. Other independent bodies seem to co-exist with Council without the animosity that seems to be in place between the two groups. As an example, the Windsor Police has a much bigger budget than the Library but I don't see the big fights between that group and the Mayor and Councillorss. Mind you, police officers carry guns. Hmmm perhaps librarians, like Customs Officers, should demand the right to bear arms as well.

Clearly, Councillor Lewenza is on a mission. It really has nothing to do with the Library. Here is a bit of background that might put some of this into context for you. The word is that Councillor Lewenza wants the Federal NDP nomination once Joe Comartin chooses to retire. The Conservatives I heard were trying to encourage Councillor Halberstadt to run for them. If Junior can knock off his opposition in advance or try to discredit him, then it makes it easier for him to be elected doesn't it.

I would think that Councillor Lewenza should keep his mouth shut with respect to the Library from now on since his colleagues have repudiated him. He was not successful in having Councillor Halberstadt removed from the Board. Given the dislike of Halberstadt by many of his colleagues, Junior's failure has to be a real slap in the face to him. That just goes along with him being shut down by the Mayor at Council meetings quite often when he goes on one of his tangents.

Of course we don't know the reason why Junior lost since it was decided in camera but clearly his colleagues must not think much of what he wanted to do. It would have created another scandal in the City respecting in camera actions just before the Mayor's Speech to the City. I know that most of the Councillors don't like Halberstadt too much these days but they obviously like Junior even less. If Councillor Halberstadt wants to have some fun, he might ask for Junior to be dismissed as Chair of WUC if that organization dares asked the public for any more money.

I was told by a couple of people that the view on Council seems to be that no one will ever second a Motion that Halberstadt brings and that very few are prepared to vote along with him on a controversial issue. They don't want to be associated with him it seems. I find all of this humourous because all it does is build up the prestige of the Councillor from Ward 4 as the "People's Choice."

Of course the discussion at Council last night about the Integrity Commissioner was nothing more than a warning to Halberstadt that once this official is in place he will be attacked. Why would he be attacked... because he dares speak out and does not do what he's told like most of his colleagues. Then of course the big criticism is that Alan writes a BLOG. You know, that's something whereby the Councillor can communicate with his constituents and others in the City. It's strange since Lewenza is someone who claims that he believes in communications.

It's very telling... Councillor Lewenza probably made a Freudian slip when he said that he wanted Councillor Halberstadt removed as a member of the Board because he did not create a good environment in the terms of "building bridges." There obviously is more to the grudge then the Library. Councillor Halberstadt has been known to support some of the efforts of the Ambassador Bridge Company and in fact wants Council to talk to the Bridge Company to try to resolve the differences between the two organizations. That does not meet the agenda of some.

Councillor Lewenza claimed that there is a need for it leadership at the Library Board. He is such a good Chair of the Windsor Utilities Commission that the Mayor had to shut him up and did all the speaking when the WUC fiasco took place. There was no leadership shown by Lewenza in that mess. Just wait until the attempt is made to privatize it.

As a member of Council, doesn't Councillor Lewenza get a free computer and Internet access? He gets a Blackberry too doesn't he. Imagine some of his constituents who might not have the money to get access or who cannot afford a computer especially in the tough economic climate that we have right now. I know that they can go to the Library to use their computers and access. Does the Councillor know that?

Councillor Lewenza should remember as well that the City of Windsor came at the bottom of a list with respect to literacy. Where do most people go to take out books that should help them with their reading? I wonder if the Councillor knows the answer to that question.

There is no doubt that the Library situation is part of a power-play to get that organization under the control of the City. For what reason I have never understood. It's not that big a deal to be concerned about but somehow for the last several years it has been in a state of perpetual crisis.

I really thought that the idea of the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget to help solve the Library's financial position was absurd: use part of their reserves. Mind you, this came from the same Councillor who wanted the Art Gallery to sell some of their paintings that were not shown on the walls to help cut their deficit as well. He shows as much sense with respect to books as he does with respect to works of art.

How does one explain all of this mess since little of it makes sense on its surface. How about plain old power politics. It happens in all organizations and not just the Library. Maybe it is as simple as the desire of getting rid of one manager and putting in another, one more friendly possibly. Maybe it is forcing the Library into a position of deficit or bankruptcy so that the City can take it over under the Libraries Act. The Act provides that if a Library is not maintained and operated properly "its assets and liabilities are vested in and assumed by the municipality ."

Whatever it is, it is time for this nonsense to stop. It is destroying the Library, the group that seems to be one of the best run in this City and one that is essential. There are more important issues to focus on.

Is Steve Salmons ever lucky that he left and got a good job with the Province on the border file!