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Posted on: May 22, 2023

Mayor's Action Regarding Ordinance 119C

City of Liberty Lake
Office of the Mayor

Mayor's Action Regarding Ordinance 119C
May 22, 2023

As one whose job it is to guide the City through long term strategy, I see the changes made to ordinance 119C as a short-sighted versus a long-term solution.

The Library Collection Policy walks through a detailed “request for reconsideration” process to handle requests from library patrons who wish to request the withdrawal or reclassification of materials currently owned by the library. The word “ban” is not used in that policy. The wording added in 119C regarding “banned books” is still confusing and does not align with the verbiage in the policy.

My suggestion is as follows:

Neither the Council nor the Mayor will initiate a book reconsideration or restrict access to the library and its material. If the Library Board decides to remove material from the collection, the decision will automatically be escalated to the City Council. By a majority vote, the Council will either 1) uphold the decision of the Library Board or, 2) reject the decision of the Library Board at which time the item under reconsideration will be returned to the collection.

“The right to free speech is more important than the content of the speech” - Voltaire

With regard to the new clause that requires the Council to individually approve or reject all library policies in effect retroactive to February 21, 2023, and any new or revised policy going forward, this sets the Council and Library Board up for a never-ending cycle of submittals and rejections until the Board submits something the Council approves of. The way this is written, there is no discussion about the policies, just an approval or rejection.

The four Councilmembers who voted to implement these changes have a total of approximately 16 years of experience on City Council (Councilmember VanOrman being the outlier with 10 – the others have an average of 2 years each), and none have degrees or professional experience in libraries or in education.

On the other hand, the Library Board of Trustees has over 96 years of professional experience in libraries and education. Among them, they also hold the following masters degrees: Library Sciences, Special Education, Curriculum and Instruction, Early Childhood Education, Educational Leadership, and a School Library Endorsement. In addition, one of the board members is an attorney in the library industry. The board is made up of educated and trained professionals; Let them do what they were appointed to do. All members were confirmed by council; that is the Council oversight.

My suggestion is as follows:

Neither the Council nor the Mayor will initiate any new or revised policies. Proposed changes to any of the Library Policies will be submitted to Council during the quarterly reports from the Board of Trustees. The council will review, ask questions, and discuss the proposed changes and provide feedback to the Board of Trustees with the intent to coming to an agreement on a final version of said policy.

“Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem” – Ronald Reagan

What disappoints me the most about the last 7 months is the lack of regard for citizen input. Yes, there were a lot of comments (many duplicated) from anonymous people who didn’t identify if they were residents of Liberty Lake or not. That aside, the comments were overwhelmingly opposed to these changes. Councilmembers can’t have their cake and eat it too – if you want citizen feedback, you need to listen to it. Don’t pick and choose what you hear.

I hereby exercise my authority to veto Ordinance 119C. I encourage the Council to select one member from each “side” of this issue to meet with a member of the Library Board to engage in true collaboration on these issues.

- Cris Kaminskas, Mayor
City of Liberty Lake, Washington

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