Hey, Dallas City Council, Instead of Lecturing DISD, Why Don't You Fund Your Libraries?
By Jim Schutze Tue., Sep. 2 2014 at 1:58 PM
Last week Dallas school board member Dan Micciche had an op-ed essay in The Dallas Morning News urging people to push their City Council members and the mayor about the chronic under-funding of public libraries in the city. The numbers he cited for the city's support of libraries were abysmal -- the worst in America for cities our size. But Micciche was too much of a gentleman to say out loud what the real political scandal is here.
Wait? Did I just say someone else was being TOO MUCH OF A GENTLEMAN? Isn't that my call to action -- the big letter S projected onto the skyline by searchlight? Yes, I think so. So please allow me to say out loud what Micciche is too much of a gentleman to say out loud.
Hey. Did the Dallas City Council not summon the school board to a public scolding last April so the mayor and council could take them to the woodshed for not teaching the kids good enough? Was this not the self-same solemn magisterial occasion when one City Council member asked school board members if the public school district intended to continue having public schools in it? As opposed to ... all pizza parlors? Switching from public schools to Ford dealerships? Yeah. This is that same City Council.
This council had the nerve, the gall, the arrogance, the cheek, the brass, the sheer unadulterated un-self-aware galloping impudence to call the school board on the carpet for not doing enough to teach the kids, and now they are about to sign off on the worst, cheapest, scummiest, most under-funded public library budget in the country. And they see not one whit of contradiction, hypocrisy or even irony in that?
No, of course they don't. If this City Council and mayor were capable of seeing irony in anything at all ever, they wouldn't ask if the public school system plans on continuing to offer public education. The capacity for irony is way way beyond them.
Last week we talked here about two members of the City Council, Scott Griggs and Philip Kingston, who did what council members never do -- actually delved into the city manager's proposed budget on their own and came up with a way to restore some of the funding the manager has filched from libraries over the years. The city's library budget is down $10 million or 33 percent in the last seven years even though the city anticipates record-high tax revenues next year.
See also: Somebody Wake Up Dallas City Council and Tell Them to Get to Work
Griggs even presented a spreadsheet offering specific cuts to the city manager's proposed budget, mainly from back-office operations slated for dubious staff increases, to cover $3.8 million additional money for libraries and animal control. The city manager came back a few days later with an insanely convoluted hyperventilated rebuttal arguing that allowing council members to suggest specific changes in his budget would crash the entire city on a scale with, I don't know, no more public schools in the public school system or something wildly unruly like that.
Read the full article here:
"...I’ve been pretty cranky about this issue for a long time. Libraries are places where people go to improve themselves. They’re safe places for kids to learn and dream. They’re places where people who are self-motivated can use the internet to look for jobs, earn degrees, learn English. You can live a long time in Dallas and not know we’re a high-poverty city. Are we going to recognize that we are a high-poverty city, that we are a high-poverty school district? Are we going to support education, or are we going to be at the bottom of the list? We have to fund those libraries. To open the libraries back up again, you would have to take the city’s general fund budget, $1.1 billion, and find 1 percent savings to fund the $10 or $11 million necessary to get us back to the funding we had in the early 2000s. We either need to find the savings or be willing to ask the average homeowner to fork over $25 more a year for libraries. Think about it this way: When your internet is out, how do you feel? You may not need the library as much as you once did, but it means that the people at the bottom of the economic scale need it even more...."
This excerpt was taken from an article that appeared in the Advocate Magazine on August 25. Read the whole article at this link: http://lakewood.advocatemag.com/2014/08/25/qa-dan-micciche/#sthash.eBHVvtz4.RVSU1BBe.dpuf