Tuesday, July 30, 2013

People Get Emotional Over Books. By Geniusofdespair

Book Burning in 1933, In Berlin's Opera Square

I am getting all these emails about closing libraries. What is the fuss? Would you rather deprive the Miami Heat? Hell no, don't take money from Lebron and company for some stupid books.

Everyone is in an uproar. Here is one I got that was pretty interesting...


An open letter to the “vested community stakeholders” – in plain language LIBRARY PATRONS OF ALL AGES, GENDERS, RACES, CREEDS, AND ECONOMIC BACKGROUNDS.

Miami Dade Public Loses 251 library staff + 22 libraries BUT we get a new mobile APP!!

I appreciate good technical writing. Mayor Gimenez’s July 25, 2013 memo entitled “Library District – Budget and Programmatic Update” was impressively crafted by a Spin Ph.D. It masterfully took complementary parts of the library system’s history and used it to explain how the wounded and crippled 27 survivor branches will forge ahead after dismissing the youngest, up-and-coming librarians and support staff. It’s an emotional roller coaster of a read.

The list of positive words used to describe what was built up with millions of tax dollars includes value, vital, user-centric, adaptable, most needed, the library was referred to as “the heart.”

Then the realities are also pointed out: closed bookstores, free internet and software on 2,700 desktop computers and laptops, free wifi, 5000 hours of free programs, and that millions use the library’s website.

According to the memo’s vague promises and bluster, the organization will be able to strengthen the online collection AND generate creative programming for the remaining communities. This will be accomplished with just ½ of the staff in the workforce. A massacre to the table of organization is a benefit to us all. What a jagged array of assurances when reading a plan that champions efficiencies, maximizing our reach, and quality of services all through finding a “community partner” to assume the workload of the displaced and newly unemployed. All of the partners listed in the memo have already been in partnerships with MDPLS – so they’ll be interested to now learn that they are will have the burden of responsibility for continuing public library programs.

Strengthening the online presence is also discussed. The library has broadcasted database resources to home computers for over a decade. Your library card number is your password. Sadly, with the looming destruction of the funding, databases have taken a hit. For example, Newsbank access for all states except for Florida has been dropped. That had been access to over 1000 or more newspapers, TV news transcripts, and more.

Sustainable county government is a key. According to a June 6, 2011 memo from Alina T. Hudak, entitled “FY2011-12 Budget Development”, it shows a grid of four areas of county government. In the budget gaps at FY2010-2011 ONLY the library was in the black. Countywide, Unincorporated Municipal Service Area, and the Fire District all created a $250 million budget gap. So what is the reward to the one, fiscally healthy, well run, and well-loved county department? It is sacrificed in the name of a strategic decision. The public’s libraries will pay a severe price and be dismantled for its ability to perform and to thrive within its budget during the worst two years in the county’s history. Underfunding their budget for 2013-2014 is a malicious payback to a Library Department that was sustainable until its funding was cut into half two years ago.

Genius said: Libraries are more than a place for books in my view. They are a safe place where people can interact from all socioeconomic groups. We have so few places -- Parks, libraries, public pools, beaches. Of course we can spend $300 for Heat tickets and interact with rich people. But where are free places where everyone is welcome? Where is there programing for the young? Why when we cut the budget do we ask people to choose services they have grown to expect? Are we punishing them for not supporting raising taxes? Get rid of some of those useless programs, county cars, and other perks Commissioners use to get reelected. Start with all those embroidered shirts and hats the Commissioners wear, and the Mom and Pop Grants. Little things add up.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Whenever I visit any Miami library I see almost every seat taken. Children, students, businesspeople, retired folks... In fact, the Miami libraries have great research material not available anywhere else. Not everyone has a computer. Not everyone has a portable computer with wireless access. If Carlos Gimenez wants to support students and if he wants a better work force he should be putting more money into libraries not less.

Anonymous said...

Minorities need more training on computers. Many don't even have email addresses.

Anonymous said...

The Mayors initial instincts were correct, he needed to go to the community to ask for additional mileage to keep the library services afloat. The problem was he had no backup information to explain the reduction in funding over the past two years and that the libraries, and fire rescue had been living off reserves for that period of time. The Mayor has to understand he needs to set the scene,instead he was out on a limb. So the NO MORE TAX rote knee jerk reaction contingent in this county took him to task and he ran for the hills. Now that the rest of the cou Ty is waking up or coming home from summer vacation and hearing about the looming disaster the Mayor and Commission created, there will be hell to pay. I am already hearing RECALL! They will have to eat their vote and find new revenue or face certain doom in next years election. This county cannot afford to lose its libraries or it's fire rescue.

Anonymous said...

Mayor Gimenez just gave his Port Deputy Director a 70% payraise from $170,000 to $300,000
and reclassified him as Director Designee, hoping current Director Johnson bows
out. Firemen and libraries are sacrificed in the mayors budget instead. Kuryla is about to become Mayor Gs Dennis Morales, the errant top aid to
ousted mayor Alvarez who got a hefty payraise while all other employees got
cuts. Kuryla's background includes reassignment from his Public Works post to a
remote field location because of improprieties, personal bankruptcy, coworker
love affair leading to divorce, shady dealings with potential port vendors and
clients resulting in Inspector General investigation, inability to show up for
work before 10am, aggressive behavior toward law enforcement at traffic stops
and other unstable episodes. He is favored by this administration and
commission because of his ability to cater to their needs, including numerous
junkets to foreign locations using a Port Budget loophole ($500,000 budget item for this year alone). The Port budget also
includes a $5million line item for payment in a legal judgment against the
County for a judges ruling that the Port of Miami has a way of doling certain
business permits illegally protecting incumbents -- ``creating a handful of
entrenched privileged companies". The judge said evidence showed other
``established, qualified, competent and trustworthy,'' companies were denied
permits even as some incumbents who didn't use their permits received automatic
renewals. This is a rare surfacing of the hidden backchannel network that exists
in the County for every major expenditure where privileged insiders are awarded
business while those who are not tied into the system of lobbyists, commissioner
aides and certain County staff are denied. Kuryla is person most responsible for
this lawsuit due to his ability to manipulate the formal selection process.

Anonymous said...

Why is the library system paying Miami Dade county $5 million a year to "rent" it's own building from Miami Dade County. The taxpayers paid for the library building. Let's start with that.
Why are the libraries being scrutinized and examined for "efficiencies" when sacred cow depts get to run multi million deficits - like the airport and port? Housing, transit, watet and sewer have all gotten the attention if the feds. The Marlins stadium deal is being investigated by the SEC. For Gods sake, the library system is the only department that hasn't come under federal investigation. And this is how it gets rewarded?
As they said, "You know things are messed up when librarians have to protest in the streets."

Anonymous said...

The library reserves were raided - $6 million one year alone - to pay for other programs- cultural arts in 2009. Why don't they pay it back? Is this like the same switching of funds between depts that brought Miami to being charged by the SEC.
Please help! We actually NEED a federal investigation of the library system to shed some light on the accounting practices the County has been using.

Anonymous said...

Four of the libraries being closed are early voting precincts. Libraries are traditional voting precincts. Is this a voter suppression action by certain elected officials? Maybe a civil rights investigation is also in order?

Arturo Morejon said...

I have collected vinyl records through my lifetime. The libraries for my media are extinct. I'd hate to see it happen to the reading community as well. Much love and good luck on your pursuit to save our heritage and tradition.

DJ 2RO

Anonymous said...

Libraries have also been identified as places to learn about the new health care program (obamacare). Even setting aside computers just for this purpose. Is the draconian move to close nearly half of our libraries, a way to mess up the health care program and prevent poor people from signing up? It will have that impact.
Overall, it shows a callous disregard fir the plight of the poor in our community who need the public library computers to sign up for public benefits, housing and look for jobs.
Gimenez saying the age of libraries and books is over and all children have tablets is outrageous.

Anonymous said...

Gimenez should be making all 26,000+ County employees work more efficiently. Instead, Gimenez wants to close libraries. Gimenez should save money by firing Vice Mayor Jack Osterholt and many other nasty people who whisper in his ear.

Anonymous said...

Here is another comment posted in the Friends of the Miami Dade Library Facebook page. Maybe Mayor Gimenez or his many assistants are reading this blog

Liz Hernandez
Friends of the Miami-Dade Public Library



My Speech for Rally “Save OUR Libraries”. Saturday, July 27, 2013 --Liz Hernandez

Commissioner Souto has called libraries “Sacred”. He is SO very correct. Libraries ARE sacred places.

Certainly a symbol of liberty, and becoming one of the last vestiges of freedom. A library is a place to congregate with others. It is a safe place where you can be alone and not bothered. A place where you are free to be. A place to go and learn almost anything you want to.
One can say that libraries are the “Living room of the city”.
A Home away from home. Where every single person is welcomed.

But libraries are not just about place, in the same way that they are not just about books. The veins and arteries that keep a library alive are the experts in them. The Librarians; they truly are a strange breed – extremely helpful, caring, and resourceful. Librarians are angel-like, there to help you in any way they can. I have seen librarians respond to questions and requests, from all kinds of people of ALL ages, as if that inquiry is the most important thing in the world. Every request is taken with the utmost respect and dignity. No question is too small, silly, or insignificant. YOU are taken seriously and honored. Librarians are such a treasure! They not only have extensive knowledge, but more importantly, they have the desire and willingness to share it with you


....We need to improve our city. It’s ALL about our give and take. You help me and I help you.
We need to lessen the taking and increase the giving.
Let’s each and every one of us work together for a better and happier Miami, and
KEEP OUR LIBRARIES OPEN!!!,
JUST AS THEY ARE NOW!
Thank you.

100panthers said...

Glad we spent the money on new Marlins Stadium rather than books!

County leaders should be inducted into the Captain Edward John Smith Hall of Fame!

(Captain of the Titanic, Smith failed to manage and coordinate the evacuation effort, and gave ambiguous and impractical orders, an hour after the collision, Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall was still unaware that the ship would sink.)

Anonymous said...

Taxes, by law, cannot be mixed.

The library district is supported by a separate property tax. The money generated there cannot be spent elsewhere.

The library tax had been at about 1/2 of a mill, or 50 cents for every thousand dollars of taxable value, for a long time. During the housing bubble, the library tax generated much more revenue than needed to run the library system. It also made the planned expansion easier to do.

During the collapse, the Library tax was slashed to where it is now which is 17 cents per $1000 value. That's nowhere near enough to run the library system, but there were lots of funds in reserve. That is until this year when the reserves would be depleted.

Either the County raised the millage back to something close to what is really needed to operate the system or they would have to shutter libraries and fire people. They chose the latter.

There's no magic fix. There's no revenue solution that will make up 1/2 of the entire library system's budget. libraries will be closing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you last anon. Because the Mayor and some commissioners keep writing memos announcing that this library and that library won't close afterall. And - by the way - the LOVE libraries. LOL. It appears to be a shell game, to appease people in their districts, make deals with certain commissioners. But the truth is that there is only so much money in the budget right now. So..some libraries will close (nearly half), or some libraries will have their hours and days cuts or some (250) library staff will be fired. The Mayor said as much in his op-ed in the Miami Herald last Sunday.
There is no accounting for the library reserves in the millions that were taken from the library system to give to other departments over the years. And there is no accounting for the fact that last year the library budget was slashed by 30 percent. This year by 50 percent. So that's an 80 percent cut in the library budget. Has any other department undergone such a drastic slashing? Please.

This is actually a national disgrace. Can't wait to read about this in the New York Times under the headline: Miami closes libraries, cuts fire rescue services, and euthanizes pets to pay for luxury renovations at sports stadiums. And Miami's own newspaper, The Miami Herald, likes it this way, too. Nice!

Anonymous said...

If the Heat would pay it's back rent and going forward pay their rent on time, I wonder how many libraries would that fund?

Anonymous said...


The majority of our public doesn't yet realize what is being stolen from them. Tax dollars for over forty years went to building a community network of shared resources.

The Mayor and seven out of the 12 County Commissioners' want to dissolve this 49 branch network. For decades, which ends this October, a resident in the taxing district, could use any of the county branches. The system now span the four corners of the 2,000 square mile county - from Aventura to Homestead, from West Kendall by Krome Avenue to Key Biscayne. 8 million visitors walked into the 49 locations last year.

Our Mayor, and the seven who voted to underfund the library, will obliterate sharing amongst the richest and poorest cities. The county wants out of the business of running libraries. Past investments of millions of tax dollars be damned.

With their entourage to do their research, why would they use the public library? Of course all eight of them show up for photos with them reading to groups of children and also to cut the ribbon at library Grand Openings. Will even one of them show up for 16 Grand Closings?

To know what's being done to save your libraries:

https://www.facebook.com/SaveTheMiamiDadePublicLibraries

Anonymous said...

The Whitehouse did an interesting thing today. They asked federal employees to submit cost-saving suggestions. Since the mayor and the commissioners don't know where he fat is, surely county employees know.

Anonymous said...

Many are now surprised by Gimenez. You have only yourselves to blame. Many were so eager to jump on the Herald's pro Gimenez bandwagon that they failed to see who was surrounding him - bad, bad, elitist lobbyists. The first thing this "strong mayor" did was to create 5 Deputy Mayor positions, one for Alina Hudak. Next he keeps WASD's oligarchy intact. Next he hires himself a $220K + "Communications Director", even though there is still an intact Communications department. And now he cries the same tears, "In order not to raise taxes I'll have to make some cuts.... Let's see, where shall I cut? I know! How about libraries? And firefighters?"

Please someone tell me how this Carlos is any different from the previous Carlos?

Anonymous said...

Commissioners vote to give over $3 BILLION to the Marlins. In fact, the Marlins are supposed to pay about $2 per sq ft in rent to the County BUT Commissioners let the Marlins borrow the rent money from the taxpayers. Just a total screw up. Now Gimenez recommends and a majority of commissioners vote to close libraries? Seriously?

Anonymous said...

MDC Welcome to the Office of Management & Budget The Office of Management and Budget brings together the County’s operating and capital budgeting, strategic planning and business planning, performance improvement, grants coordination, Community Redevelopment Agency and bond monitoring, and incorporations and annexation support functions of Miami-Dade County. Taken together, these functions help ensure the County allocates resources that reflects the community’s priorities.
http://www.miamidade.gov/managementandbudget/home.asp

Anonymous said...

I am inspired by the way Miami-Dade residents are standing up for its libraries. It is refreshing to see the community getting involved for such a noble cause. Still, I have to ask--where is the Director of Libraries in all of this? Where is the man who was appointed to oversee the operations of the Library System and its successful development? It is easy to blame the economy and tax cuts for the Library’s current struggle, but why has it come as such a surprise to the Commissioners that our libraries are still in use? Part of successful planning involves foreseeing the worst case scenarios and making back-up plans to avert them. This is not the first time Libraries have faced cuts. Why then, did the Library Administration not make efforts to reinforce their significance in the community after the last bout of layoffs only a year ago? Rather than reinvent their approach to public awareness they continued to float on into their status-quo standards. Ultimately, as the head of the System, the responsibility of its demise, should it fall, rests on them. This was an opportunity for the Library Administration to stand with its community and defend the services we covet and rely on. I want libraries to succeed and do well, but I have to give the current Director and his Administration my vote of no confidence. We must continue to voice our demands and ask our Commissioners to reconsider their choices but if this battle is won, the Library System needs to be refitted to meet the needs and services this community deserves. I appreciate the Commissioners who have tried to come up with alternatives to closing branches but I would have expected these ideas to come from the Libraries own Administration. Had they the foresight and initiative to face the challenges they knew were imminent head on, perhaps our branches would not have ended up on the Mayor’s chopping block. Isn't that why we pay them the big bucks, after all?

Anonymous said...

My gripe are people who work for the county who blatantly don't return phone calls. I'm taking names and there will be some social networking done about this.

floridabook said...

To the last anon, how did you know? Are you that astute? Well, who would replace him, a Mayor Gimenez appointee. Whose worse? What would you do? And imagine having to work for this mayor who has a hate on for you. The liberary and fire millage were always voted on back to back. $4 million was reallocated by the BCC from fire when 11 libraries were threatened two years ago at the final budget hearing. Two years ago $11.7 was taken from the special taxing district and given to the dept of cultural affairs. If that could be legally taken, it was a reasonable decision to spend the rest before it was again raided. The surprise that Vice Mayor Sosa expressed was theatrical - we are not lowering your millage why can't you live on your budget. How could they all not know that the library was surviving on 1/2 millage and 1/2 reserves. So, it's a mismanaged nightmare.

Anonymous said...

Seven commissioners and one mayor are destroying a viable network of resources. Eight people control the future for 2.5 million of us. What incentive, other than fear of losing their job, would make them change their minds? Do they have school age children, grandchildren? Invite them for a tour - not a photo opp. Show them how to use a database? Show them photos. We've been asked to show them in their own budget where to find the money. So, the burden is on us because they paid for pollsters and not auditors. Are there any auditors in the crowd?

floridabook said...

A call to action:

https://www.facebook.com/SaveTheMiamiDadePublicLibraries

Go to the rallies.

Go see up close and personal the six town hall meetings!! They'll be better than a Heat playoff, guaranteed. The Mommies are out for blood. I cannot believe a robo-poll dictated Mr. Mayor's decisions. I sure will pick up my land line next time so I know that I'd save a firefighter and a librarian AND a golden retriever. Worth my dinner getting cold!!

Anonymous said...

A call to action:

https://www.facebook.com/SaveTheMiamiDadePublicLibraries

Go to the rallies.

Go see up close and personal the six town hall meetings!! They'll be better than a Heat playoff, guaranteed. The Mommies are out for blood. I cannot believe a robo-poll dictated Mr. Mayor's decisions. I sure will pick up my land line next time so I know that I'd save a firefighter and a librarian AND a golden retriever. Worth my dinner getting cold!!

Insider said...

The Miami-Dade county library employees are among the highest paid library employees in the nation. Do a salary study. The incredibly high salaries at the county are unsustainable. Something has to give.