Saturday, April 25, 2015

Election links

Outdoor signage

Here are some links for you.

Gambit: Keep New Orleans Public Libraries open by voting yes to a modest millage increase on May 2 
NOPL Director Charles Brown says the small investment will allow all libraries to begin providing six- or seven-day-a-week access. It also will fund the reopening of the 7th Ward's Nora Navra Library. Without the added millage, library hours (which have never gotten back to where they were before the storm) will be cut by more than one-third — and seven library branches will be forced to close.

This isn't Chicken Little stuff. In early March, state budget cuts left the State Library of Louisiana open only 16 hours a week. Without the new millage, the cuts here could be equally disastrous. New Orleans already pays less per capita for library support than any of its neighboring parishes. In fact, New Orleans spends about half of what Detroit and Gary, Indiana spend on their libraries per capita. The city's redevelopment won't mean much if New Orleans must close nearly half its libraries.

A public library pays dividends far beyond access to books. Most job searches and applications now happen online, and libraries offer public Internet terminals. According to NOPL, more than 373,000 people used its computers last year. Libraries also are the vanguards of literacy education in a city where 70 percent of residents read below the eighth-grade level, according to the Lindy Boggs National Center for Community Literacy. Moreover, libraries give kids safe places to study, read, listen to music and expand their minds. Last year, 7,000 kids participated in summer reading programs.
Stephanie Grace: Voters hold direction of libraries in hands 
If residents vote the millage down, library officials predict a 35 percent decrease in hours and the closure of as many of the half the system’s 14 branches.

Is that really the image a rebounding New Orleans wants to present to the world? Is that who we want to be?

Make no mistake, choosing to invest in libraries would represent a real culture shift.

New Orleans currently spends less than a third of what East Baton Rouge Parish invests in its libraries per capita, and about half of what Jefferson Parish spends. Support badly trails other large Southern cities and even cities across the country with higher poverty rates. Detroit; Newark, New Jersey; and Gary, Indiana, each spend more per person on libraries than New Orleans does.

Jarvis DeBerry: New Orleans Public Library needs more money, more improvements 
There may be educated people out there for whom libraries held little influence, but I doubt there are many. Libraries are the pillars upon which an educated society is built. And I don't think it takes much exertion to connect the struggling library system in New Orleans with our disproportionately large uneducated population. We have, for the most part, treated our libraries as if they don't matter.

Do they matter? Enough, say, for us to pay more for them? That's the question New Orleans voters have to decide in a May 2 election.
Bradley Warshauer: Save New Orleans’ Public Library
Look, New Orleans, if we want nice things–if we want to keep the nice things we already have, and to make them better–we have to do it ourselves. We’re sure as hell not getting the help from Jindaltopia (currently headquartered in Iowa, last I heard).

A lot of people whine that New Orleans is like a third world country. It’s not. But seems to me often a Venn diagram would have a circle of people who say that overlapping with a circle of people working to make it true.

The New Orleans Public Library is freakin’ awesome and can get even better. On May 2, I’m going to walk up the street to my polling place, and vote for the library millage. If you can vote in Orleans Parish, you should do the same.
The Advocate:  Our Views: Vote yes on Orleans Parish library tax
With libraries as with anything else, users tend to get what they pay for. And in New Orleans, where per capita spending on libraries is a meager $24.54, the paucity shows. Hours of operation lag behind those of many comparable cities, as do the facilities.

As New Orleans struggles with high rates of illiteracy — a great hindrance to economic development and a big factor in civic disengagement and crime — it must do everything it can to widen its circle of readers. The New Orleans Public Library is a critical part of that mission, but it cannot thrive or even survive as a meaningful institution without new funding.

Not everyone supports the library’s proposed 25-year property tax. The nonpartisan Bureau of Governmental Research is opposing the proposal — arguing, among other concerns, that the library needs a strategic plan for its operations. A strategic plan for the library is surely a worthy goal. But an extensive study isn’t necessary to see that without more money, the library can’t effectively do the basics, keeping its branches open when people need them, and giving patrons access to quality reference materials and technology.

We urge a yes vote for the library tax.
The Advocate editors answer BGR's strange objection well enough but I will add this point.  While they are worried about "strategic plans" at the library BGR is supporting the other measure on the May 2 ballot which will allow Sheriff Gusman, who we all know and trust so well, additional flexibility with regard to how he spends his capital millage.  In essence they are saying, we don't know enough about how the library is going to spend its millage (although every link above makes the situation rather plain) but we think we need to be less picky about how Gusman spends his. 

You might remember a few years back, Lafourche Parish voters were asked to take money out of their library system to pay for a jail. They chose not to do that. BGR seems to be exhibiting different priorities.  And anyway, whatever happens with regard to Gusman's millage, rest assured the parish prison and the problems of funding its federal consent decree will not go to the back burner.  An opportunity to shore up public library funding is less likely to come around so often. Better to take advantage of those when you can.

Saturday (today) is the final day of early voting. You might stop by if you're not doing Jazzfest this weekend.  If you are, though, Election Day is next Saturday (May 2.)  Nobody goes to both Saturdays of Jazzfest, right?

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