Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Are Sierra Madre Library Supporters Preservationists?

They don't look especially dangerous ...
There is a seemingly permanent understanding in town that goes something like this. Those who believe in preserving Sierra Madre as a small village community care about issues like overdevelopment, house sizes, building density and the fate of whatever natural settings remain. They are also fiscal conservatives and not too concerned about funding the various costly community government institutions we have here now.

The persons on the other end of this spectrum are those who believe that Sierra Madre should accommodate large amounts of high density development, lot splitting, McMansions, Metro, Edison and as much in taxation as possible. Or at least the taxation necessary to support as much government as a town of almost 11,000 people can stomach. After all, it is the services of these agencies that make the world go around. Or so they say.

Caught somewhere in the middle of all this is the Sierra Madre Public Library. Of course, a lot of this is due to our idiosyncratic village politics. Certain past City Councilmembers, especially those who favored the Downtown Specific Plan and opposed Measure V, seized upon the Library as proof of their love for preserving what is truly good about Sierra Madre. While at the same time throwing the rest of the community to the dogs.

This while those claiming to want to save this place from overdevelopment viewed the Library issue as a distraction from far more important things. A kind of community white elephant that is nice and all, but just not that much to be concerned about. Certainly not when there is a town to be saved.

Our divided opinion about the Sierra Madre Library continues to this day. Right up to the kind of yard sign you might currently have in your yard.

But we're not talking about that right now. Well, at least not entirely. Instead I would like to take a different view of this situation and see if we can't begin to develop a more positive perspective. Because maybe the old one is no longer correct. And possibly it never was.

Does support for the Library automatically mean support for McMansion development at One Carter or Mater Dolorosa? I doubt that's the case.

Leaving the politicians out of it, I would argue that many of those who fear the Library might end up being axed due to the financial constraints this community anticipates in the post double-digit utility tax era, are actually preservationists. They see a Library as an essential ingredient in preserving that small village atmosphere we talk so much about.

Also quite a few of them are the parents of elementary school age children. In its timeless wisdom the Pasadena Unified School District chose to do away with its school libraries here, which means education conscious parents are now dependent upon our public library for books. Outside of buying them outright, they really don't have much of a choice.

And when you consider that our two PUSD schools achieve the highest API scores in the entire system, and do so year after year (link), do you really want to criticize these parents for the job they are doing? Along with the teachers that work at these two schools? People who seem to be quite skilled at making due with whatever bizarre handicaps their rather strange employer throws at them?

So to give you my shortest possible answer to today's question, I would say yes. Many of our town's passionate supporters of the Library are actually preservationists. A small town without a Library would not live up to their vision of what constitutes a properly preserved and quality community. And what kind of traditional village wouldn't have one? It is a valid question.

So rather than two opposed groups with irreconcilable differences over development and/or a library, instead we have two communities of preservationists who have been played off of each other by some very cynical anti-preservationist politicians. Along with the big development interests whose water they carry.

Maybe we need to work up a new perspective on this issue. Rather than just pushing Library supporters into the arms of those who view our quaint town as a place to make money through the kinds of development that almost everybody here does not want. Sierra Madre Public Library supporters included.

Who knows, maybe both sides will wake up and realize just how much they need each other.

An apology of sorts

Yesterday I said I'd be posting some of the documents obtained through a PRA based on the mysterious fate of Sierra Madre's Sex Offender Ordinance. I've now decided to push that off for a little bit. There are a couple of things I haven't quite figured out yet, and rather than just throwing that stuff onto this blog I'd be better off taking the time needed to get it right.

However, if you want to see the documents that I was sent by City Hall, please e-mail me at sierramadretattler@gmail.com. I will happily send them to you.

Free of charge.

http://sierramadretattler.blogpsot.com

54 comments:

  1. I believe the city Charter says we must have a library.

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    1. You are 100% correct. The City must have a library.

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    2. Then why are some people trying to convince people the library is in trouble and may go away?

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    3. The new librarian is on a tear - she hustled that poor young mom to come to the council with babe in arms and plea for something that wasn't real, and she chats up seniors in the library to explain how poor the libraries are but how real estate values depend on them.

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    4. People in positions of trust should not be playing on the fears of good and trusting people. In the long run the spreading of falsehoods such as those examples will not help their cause.

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    5. The Library is a pawn in the city's never ending battle to raise your UUT taxes.

      Make no mistake about it. The tax increases have failed TWO times, 2012 and 2014, and the Library is still open...

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    6. I like the idea of having a library in Sierra Madre, but it would be more cost efficient and a improved service if we at least researched honestly if there is an option to annex the SM Library into the Pasadena system.

      We are paying just under $ 200,000 in salary, benefits for the librarian and assistant librarian and that's ridiculous not to mention the pensions we'll be paying for years.


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    7. I'd prefer the money be put into the library than into some Sacramento pension scheme.

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    8. You all don't know what you are talking about if you think the Library Director has orchestrated the protests. I have to defend our library Director. She has not entered into the political fray nor has she encouraged any to speak at a council meeting. And as far as annexing? Pasadena doesn't want us.

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    9. 1:17, then you have not observed her directing the young moms or scaring the seniors. I have. In the library and in council chambers.

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    10. Why was Rob Stockley at a City Council meeting recently complaining about the UUT sunset? The city manager clearly said no cuts at the Library were coming, yet Rob kept going on like it was the end of the world.

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    11. The Tattler needs to isolate that Stockley video. This is not the place for historical revisionism.

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    12. I don't believe 1:35 for one minute.

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    13. The video will answer these questions for us.

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    14. I'll make popcorn.

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    15. I remember years ago rob Stockley handing me a sign at the Fourth of July parade saying Save our library. Don't know why he's gone on about it for all these yeatd. That was before Measure V.

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  2. They did throw the rest of the town to the dogs!
    Save the library but not downtown, the hillsides, the canyon....

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    1. Who is "they"? Most of us who are dedicated to the library also want to save the hillsides, the canyon, and the monastery. In fact, quite a few of us are contributing money, time and effort to do all of the above. Let's do what Crawford suggests and join forces instead of condemning one or the other.

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    2. It is a good idea to link community and library preservation. Not everyone sees preservation the same way, but their instincts are all good.

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    3. I agree 9:57 and 10:20 - but Rob Stockly is not doing the ibrary any favors by being so closely associated with it. Stockly, as many of you know, was a driving force in enabling hillside over-development. He's also the chief cheerleader for the Our Library is Closing chants.

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    4. Rob is a cynical man.

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    5. Rob is also a commercial banker who made decisions about development that could have benefited his employer.

      Rob - name makes sense - robbed us of our hillsides and robbing us the truth about the library spreading knowingly false rumors about closing the library for a political agenda that benefits who?

      his employer

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    6. Rob Stockly is a member of the Library Board of Trustees. It is his duty to speak in behalf of the library and its programs. There is no conspiracy here, and his employer has no hand in the library no matter how much you'd like to think so. To point at Stockly as if you are pointing at all the library supporters is unwise and extremely untrue.

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    7. No one confuses Stockly with "all the library supporters" except maybe you 1:20.
      Stockly holds a unique place in the destruction of the Sierra Madre hillsides.
      He, Tanya Torres, John Buchanan and Enid Joffe are in a class by themselves.

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    8. I don't think anyone believes Stockley speaks for anyone but himself. To do otherwise would be disrespectful.

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    9. Then why bring it up as "they".

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    10. 11:40- Rob Stockly "retired" from his bank job several years ago. He now teaches high school English/Literature classes in Los Angeles.

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  3. Is this a "why can't we all just get along?" approach?

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  4. I dunno JC. I am a historical preservationist and the only value I see in the local library is its sales and historical society display cases- of which I rarely have time to view. I have lived in small towns throughout my life and have always just gone to the county library or Pasadena. I rarely use the local library.

    In fact, most cities I can think of that have libraries are about 6-10 times the size of Sierra Madre. I don't generally associate a library with quaint towns. I base it on historical architecture. The behemoth on SM Blvd. has destroyed that.

    I have no love for PUSD but I should point out that it had NOTHING to do with the decision to close the library at Sierra Madre. THAT decision was made by the school site council under the direction of a site administrator (they named the odditorium after her) and headed by a husband and wife team with those same teachers you credited with the test scores supporting the decision. Those schools continue the practice with current administration and staff. Supplemented by a huge donation fund. Theirs is a funding model that prefers using the money for behavior management over a librarian.

    Essentially the school prefers a behavior room and staffing over a librarian and books.I guess it's consistent with retaining a library out of city funds and a police department in the center of town. Behavior management seems to be what this place craves, not preservation.

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    1. I live in a very small isolated community of 480 residents who 10 years ago found the money to establish a wonderful community library that is the heart and soul of main street. One paid librarian who is revered by all and a whole host of dedicated volunteers. There are two community rooms that support learning from infants to elders; a bank of computers, printers, and classes to support new learners; a collection of books for sale to support the library; and an annual support campaign. By the way, Pasadena's is not a County library - it is a part of the City of Pasadena.

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    2. It is a nice post, 11:32. Don't be confused.

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    3. 11:32 here. I was looking for a point/solution in 10:18's post. Didn't get the memo that it was a composition assignment.

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    4. The nice thing seems to escape you. Maybe you should look up one of our two previous mayors and check in for some civility training.

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  5. The preservation community and the library folks need to talk.

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  6. There is certainly a lot to learn about this subject. I like all the points you made.

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  7. Often the cause of closing a small elementary school library is the need for the space as an additional classroom when enrollments went up and funding for building went down. This happened at Sycamore School in Claremont that my son attended. The parents stepped up. They built library shelves for the multipurpose room that folded in on themselves with rollers so they could be moved aside when the room was needed for assemblies or science fairs, etc.

    Read today's LA Times article, page AA2, about the link between poverty and loss of learning time. Parents stretched thin do not have the time to devote to bolstering up the schools the way we'd like to think it happens and which we expect.

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    1. Awesome post. Practical solutions.

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  8. Who benefits when the Library folks and preservationists don't get along?

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    1. No one. There is a perceived notion that they are not one and the same.

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    2. That needs to stop.

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  9. Follow the money. This whole library thing is a hostage game to jack up your taxes. That's all.

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    1. Thgey could take city hall hostage, but nobody would care.

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    2. The bottom liine is that if the taxpayers money is being used wisely and not spent on frivolous things or on ever-increasing salaries, benefits and pensions for the public employees, a city should have enough money for a library and not need to keep searching for more revenues from over-development. A city can have everything it wants. The problem has always been the public employee unions. As someone said about either Stockton or Detroit - the two cities that both went bankrupt - they were paying more money in pension costs for those who did not work, then they paid the people who actually did work and perform services for the city. That is the number one problem - unfunded liabilities for the pensions and astronomical salaries for those who do work. If a city lives within its means and pays reasonable salaries and pensions to its workers and the workers aren't allowed to retire at 50 or 55 with lifetime pensions and cost of living increases, then a city can remain fiscally sound and not have to keep clawing for more and more revenues to support the public employee laviathon. One simple solution to the unfunded pension liabilities that keep accruing is to go from a defined benefit pension program to a defined contribution pension program. That one solution will solve the entire problem. In the former case, a City Council can promise the unions anything they want to either get elected to office or keep the peace with the labor unions during their tenure in office. Irresponsible over-promises by the City Council don't manifest themselves until long after they are out of office in the form of the unfunded pension liabilties that are the reason so many cities are going bankrupt. With the defined contribution pension program, a City Council is less likely to over-promise with the unions because they would have to budget for it each year. So the effect of their decisions will manifest themselves while that City Council is actually in office. There is no reason not to do that. Why doesn't Sierra Madre implement this immediately?

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    3. Sierra Madre is definitely falling into that trap. It will cost us dearly. One of the driving forces behind overdevelopment is the millions of dollars in impact fees it will pump into city hall's coffers. Almost all of it will go to pension costs.

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    4. 1:22, can you manage a few more words?

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    5. Bull? Is that you Nancy?

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    6. No, Nancy uses the whole phrase.

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  10. So I am confused. Are Library supporters in favor of community preservation or not?

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  11. Apparently all but one (Stockly) are in favor of community preservation.

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