Posts Tagged 'Library'

No representation without taxation

No, the title of this article is correct.

We had our monthly Ojai Valley Library Friends and Foundation meeting last night.  I’ve been the treasurer since the end of the ice age.  Lots of good folks on the OVLFF board.  We don’t always agree but we seem to get things done.

The Foundation has been blessed of late with more income than expense.  Funds provided by the community let us support the three branches in the Ojai Valley by providing equipment, building improvements, and programs that augment what the County spends.

The Wright Library is located in Ventura and is not in our sphere of influence.  Hard times have hit Wright as County tax revenues have fallen.  Cuts have been made.  Wright has been targeted for closure even though it is an active, busy place.  As with any change, those most affected by it have risen to Wright’s defense.  The Friends Foundation in Ventura that supports Wright has taken on a herculean task to keep the doors open.  The community is up in arms, money raised, ballot propositions written, sales tax increases contemplated, and commitments extracted from elected representatives.

Ray Bradbury even rolled in, headlined a fund raiser, and the NY Times wrote about the library’s plight.  Nevertheless, Wright may be wrong.  It may all be to no avail.

At last night’s OVLFF meeting, one of our board members who’s done much for the Ojai libraries, has a good heart and a strong community commitment, offered a suggestion.  “Since OVLFF has some bucks, maybe we could donate a few of them to Wright’s cause.”  A reasonable idea.

Now I’m no book-burner.  And I obviously have a soft spot for libraries.  But I think the idea of writing a check to keep the library open deserves closer examination.  Let’s put aside the issue of “what do we do next year after we save Wright this year.”   Instead, let’s focus on who’s responsible for keeping libraries open.

Is it a small group of committed individuals who dig into their pockets every year and subsidize staff, books, lights and heat?  While the rest of us sneak in, borrow books, use computers, ask the librarian questions, attend community meetings, provide supplemental schooling to our kids…and then bad mouth the tax collector.  Better keep those committed individuals healthy and happy…and pay heed to their values and politics, good or bad.

Or is it the community at large that’s responsible?  Doesn’t the entire community benefit from the library?  Even if half of them never set foot in it?  I have a confession.  I never borrowed a book from the Ojai Library until last year.  Shame on me.  Would I care if the library shut its doors?  Do I want to dumb down kids and adults only to have them be a bigger problem than they are now?  Perish the thought.

Would I have a fund raiser for Sheriff Bob’s police department if the money ran out?  Would Sweetie bake cookies for it?  No.  I’d camp out in Sacramento or the Ventura Government Center until they paid attention.  I’d oust my elected representative.  I’d vote.  I’d pay taxes.

Quiet, you say.  They’ll hear you.  They’ll raise our taxes.  The scoundrels that we put in office.  The ones who are supposed to make our community better.  The nerve.

And that’s why I don’t want to give money to the Wright Library.  And that’s why I don’t want to subsidize the basic services of schools through auctions, tea parties and private solicitations.  I want the Government to do its job.  I want there to be such an uproar in the community that we will actually force our elected representatives to raise our taxes.  To pay for things that benefit the entire community,  just like my folks did.

Sure, my dad complained about taxes.  And so do I.  It’s the American way.  But so is responsibility.

 

Responsibility_Kids


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