Letter: Library decision by Clarkdale Town Council a disgrace

Editor:

Citizens of Clarkdale, be informed that your city mayor and town council, by a unanimous vote on Tuesday evening, May 23rd, did not trust the friends of the Clarkdale Memorial Library and members of the Clarkdale community to come up with $25,000 to keep the library open for this coming fiscal year 2017-2018. In so doing, they also forfeited an additional $36,000 of funds earmarked for the library from the Yavapai County Library District. Thus, they have closed your library effective June 30th, 2017. What a disgrace!

As a concerned citizen of Clarkdale and a supporter of the Clarkdale Memorial Library, after observing the actions and functioning of the Clarkdale mayor and town council over several months, I am of the opinion that there is a lack of proactive leadership. What was observed was a maintenance-survival mentality. In my view, if the town council truly was interested in helping the town of Clarkdale keep the library open, active leadership would have laid out the specific time-framed conditions required to do so, recommended and supported a citizen task force to meet these conditions and given a reasonable time in which this process could succeed. This did not happen! By failing to provide this leadership, they passively planned to fail. The least important item in the 2017-2018 budget was thus cut and the library closed.

The manner in which the mayor and council handled this library closure was, at the least, awkward. At the beginning of the Special Meeting of the Common Council of the Town of Clarkdale on Tuesday, 23rd May 2017, the mayor requested that item #2 on the agenda “Public Comment” be reserved till the time and in the order in which the specific agenda item was addressed by the council. Concerned citizens of the library patiently persevered for nearly four hours, waiting for agenda item #11, “Yavapai County Library District Agreement – Discussion and possible action regarding renewal of the Town’s Intergovernmental Agreement with the Yavapai County Library District for FY 2018, and status of Clark Memorial Library after June 30, 2017.” This had been placed as the last active item on the council meeting agenda.

The mayor brought this agenda item to the floor of the council and immediately asked for a motion or motions to discontinue the Yavapai County District agreement, thus forfeiting their $36,000 annual subsidy to Clarkdale library, and to close the library … all this without addressing the waiting public! It required the vice-mayor to ask permission of the mayor if the waiting concerned citizens of Clarkdale might be allowed to speak. Yes, the concerned citizens of the library felt disrespected! This was evident in the presentations and council interaction that followed. After a time, and with no new information forthcoming, the council proceeded to act unanimously on the mayor’s initially requested motion.

My concluding impression was of a strained tired town council growing continually weary, and at times frustrated, under the pressure and load of their responsibility and operating in a maintenance-survival mode.

For a better tomorrow, Clarkdale:

Phil Dirksen

Clarkdale

Comments

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ItsyBitsySpider 1 year, 3 months ago

Excellent analysis, Mr. Dirkson. Fiefdoms are fine in good times, but in foul weather, heavy is the head that wears the crown.

In the Council's defense, they've been arguing this library staffing issue among themselves--off and on--since 2008, when a survival-maintenance mentality was the only rational position for Clarkdale.

My guess: It never became public because, initially, de-funding CML was just one of a number of distasteful economies being tossed around, quickly rejected because Clarkdale not only loves its library, the County was helping sustain staff members. Then, by April 2016, it was too late for what should have been set in motion by April 2011. Not truly too late. It's never too late to salvage a resource as valuable as a library. But trust goes both ways. Leaders who've given their people reason to doubt them have a hard time trusting their people.

Also, with everyone in town struggling to survive, Clarkdale's Council doesn't have many petitioners chomping to give their money and time to something decreed expendable. Give them time to get their heads around the fact it's a community library those petitioners want, not a maintenance contract.

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davidp 1 year, 3 months ago

"The least important item in the 2017-2018 budget..."

The library budget was $0 in the FY17-18 preliminary budget, while the Community Services Department budget increased $20K from FY16-17.

Over 6 months in 2016, the library's importance ranking (as determined by the Community Services Commission) was beaten down from its initial #4 (shared with yet-to-be-seen "Movies in the Park") to #12, a position below "Santa Comes to Clarkdale" and "Caroling in the Park." Relatively worthless.

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Therese 1 year, 2 months ago

Interesting the way things turn out when reasonable people stand up for what they're sure is right, even when that means butting heads with other reasonable people who are equally sure they're right.

This was a quandary only a librarian could resolve. And lo! A librarian appeared with a resolution that the Town, the County, and library advocates could all embrace. Not a compromise. A resolution in which everyone got exactly what they said they wanted.

Let's hear it for librarians!

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