Header image alt text

Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

There’s certainly been a lot of news concerning Glendale this week:

  • On February 20, 2015 the group led by Anna Lee filed the necessary paperwork once again to recall Councilmember Gary Sherwood of the Sahuaro district. The group’s first effort was denied by the city on various grounds. Consider their first effort a life’s lesson. They now know exactly what eyes to dot and tees to cross. Expect them to gather the necessary signatures to compel the city to call for a Sherwood recall election. If you would like to sign the petition (must live in the Sahuaro district)  and/or help gather signatures please call 602-657-0303 and your call will be returned.
  • The city council accepted former City Manager Brenda Fischer’s resignation effective April 3, 2015. Her request of the emails of only 3 councilmembers may have been the last straw for council.
  • The city council appointed former Scottsdale City Manager Dick Bowers as Glendale’s Interim City Manager. Mr. Bowers has filled this position before during the last search by council for a city manager. One of his first decisions was to retain the services of Jon Froke as the city’s Planning Director.
  • Mayor Jerry Weiers, on Friday, February 20, 2015 issued the following statement regarding the proposal to sell Foothills Library and relocate it to the Foothills Recreation and Aquatic Center:

“Over the past few weeks, the citizens of Glendale have voiced their opinion regarding the proposed relocation of the Foothills Branch Library. Their voice has been almost entirely united in opposition to the proposal. While I share their concerns and am personally opposed to the proposal, I await the recommendation of the Library Advisory Board, the Parks and Recreation Commission, and the Arts Commission. “I am glad that Glendale residents have taken such an active role on this issue. Ever since it was announced, I urged staff to seek the input of the public to ensure that our citizens were incluced an any propoal to alter the library. It is my sincere hope that Glendale residents will continue to actively participate in this and other important issues facing our great city. “I also thank Midwestern University for their long-term support of the Glendale community. In addition to producint hundreds of doctors, pharmacits, physician assistand, and many other types of medical professionals every year, Midwestern opens their campus to the community through clinics and other wonderful events. Our City is a better place because they are here.”             

  • Tony Tavares, the former president of Disney Enterprises and the Anaheim Ducks, will conduct an audit of the Arizona Coyotes’ financials for $45,000 (anything over the $50,000 cap would require council approval). The audit was supposed to have begun by the end of September. It has been delayed because IceArizona has taken over 5 months to perform its own audit and still is not finished. With this audit the city will be able to examine revenue sources related to the Coyotes and Gila River Arena. Tavares was involved with Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the Chicago White Sox in a failed 2011 attempt to buy the Coyotes…hmmm.
  • In the Glendale Republic of February 21, 2015, under the title of West Valley Sound Off, elected officials were asked their thoughts on SB 1435 which would gut Arizona Open Meeting law. Mayor Kenn Weise of Avondale expressed opposition as did Councilman Roy Delgado of El Mirage and Councilman Jamie Aldama of Glendale. Not so with Councilman Gary Sherwood. Still smarting from an ongoing Attorney General’s Office into allegations of violation of the Open Meeting Law, he said, “I do believe that reform is needed to allow for additional dialogue amongst the council” and “On Glendale’s seven-member counci, it is difficult to speak to three other members without violating the law.” Well, if anyone should know, he should.
  • Each of the three citizen commissions who heard the presentations on selling the Foothills Library last week will be meeting again this coming week. Citizens are welcome to attend as they are public meetings BUT it will NOT be an opportunity for citizen comment but rather an opportunity for the commission members to have their questions answered by staff and then to decide on an advisory recommendation to the city council. The meeting dates are as follows:
  • Glendale Arts Commission at the Foothills Recreation Center on Monday, February 23, 2015, 6 PM
  • Library Advisory Board at the Foothills Library on Wednesday, February 25, 2015, 6 PM
  • Parks & Recreation Advisory Commission at the Adult Center on Thursday, February 26, 2015, 6 PM

© Joyce Clark, 2015 FAIR USE NOTICE This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Who wins? It depends what side you are on and what the ultimate definition of winning means in this instance. No one wins on so many levels. At a time when citizens no longer have full faith and trust in their national government it is disturbing and unfortunate when the same sentiment is directed toward one’s local government.

Senior administration, from City Manager Brenda Fischer on down, failed the residents of Glendale. Their unwillingness to provide full disclosure at the time of the offer to buy is appalling. To this day, we, the residents of Glendale, do not know where the idea of the sale originated. Did someone in Glendale’s senior administration suggest the idea to Midwestern University (MU)? Or as MU states in its initial February 17, 2014 letter, “Considering the current financial constraints on the City of Glendale and the dwindling use of a traditional library, we would like to express our sincere interest in exploring the possibility of a purchase…” How did MU know that there was a “dwindling use?” MU took advantage of “the current financial constraints on the City of Glendale” by low balling and offering an initial $3.4 million dollars for a building that could not be replaced for less than $17 million dollars. MU appears to have jumped at the chance to buy the building at a fire sale price. Their offer and attitude toward a proposed purchase squandered a great deal of good will between it and Glendale residents that had existed for many years.

Glendale’s senior administration lost an opportunity to demonstrate a new way of doing business. This incident reinforced many residents’ belief that attitudes and actions of senior administration has not changed despite the new faces on the senior management team. Where was the immediate disclosure in February of 2014 to council and residents of an offer to purchase the library?

This proposal had been massaged and managed secretly until senior administration thought they had all the pieces in place. Their excuse for failing to disclose was that there was a need for “due diligence.” Yet that diligence failed to take place. Part of that diligence should have been a cost analysis of a future replacement library should it be needed and an economic impact analysis to the entire city of such an action. Where was the plan of exactly how the library would be placed and work effectively in a constrained space? Instead the public was offered conceptual drawings that had no relevance to the actual space and use of the site within the Foothills Recreation and Aquatic Center (FRAC).

The senior administration lost further credibility in its failure  to act as a neutral presenter of fact. For years, as a councilmember, I asked for the pros and cons of items for consideration. Under the short tenure of former Acting City Manager Horatio Skeete, we actually received that kind of information not all the time, but several times. It was a start and I, for one, was grateful. Now we’re back to square one. Instead of presenting the factual pros and cons of this idea, senior administration turned into a bunch of advertising hacks. There was no neutrality. They appeared to own this idea and worked to sell it to the public.

Why the senior administration exuberance in selling the library? They have visions of all of those dollars dancing in their heads. The sale proceeds would go into the city’s General Fund and senior administrators would have recommended that it be used to retire some of Glendale’s debt. This council, with its propensity to rubber stamp management recommendations, would have followed. Glendale remains deeply in debt and it will continue until they deal with the gorilla in the room…its ongoing, unsustainable debt for such things as the arena management agreement of $15 million dollars a year and the Camelback Park spring training facility debt.

Who are the losers? MU and its reservoir of good will among the residents of Glendale; the senior administrators of Glendale who squandered whatever credibility they had to sell a bad idea; and of course, the general public who failed to receive fair and balanced information. Who wins? The sad fact is that no one wins…no matter what the outcome.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

On Monday, February 9, 2015 the city hosted Round 1 of the “library war.” City staff presented its proposal to sell the Foothills Branch Library and relocate it to the Foothills Recreation and Aquatic Center (FRAC) to the citizen Parks and Recreation Commission.

The meeting took place at FRAC and there were estimates of 150 to 200 people in attendance. There were ordinary citizens standing out in front of the building handing out flyers about the proposed sale.

Mary and Patty, two readers of my blog, kindly shared some observations of the meeting:

  • “Many people who use the FRAC were in attendance and they were not happy campers.”
  • “At a time when the FRAC is trying to beef up their membership, this endeavor would mean cutting many programs and farming out some programs to other locations. People pay a membership to FRAC but will have to go to another location for weightlifting, dancing, table tennis, etc.”
  • “There is a lot of running around and noise generated from the children using the pool during summer hours; a library is supposed to be a quiet place.”
  • “Children should have the experience of reading and handling books.”
  • “From a realtor: ‘this is not a good time to be selling. It’s a buyer’s market’.”
  • One person challenged the picture showing many rows of books in the meeting room we were in. She asked if this had been drawn to scale. Eric Strunk answered, ‘No, it’s just our perception of what the room will look like’.”
  • “The head of the Parks and Recreation Commission asked excellent questions and all members were actively listening and questioning.”
  • “Concerns were also raised about harming the integrity of the programs offered and expected by the Rec center patrons and that the pool table area is actually the only area youth that could not afford to join could freely use.”
  • A man shared how he bought his home because of the proximity of the library.”
  • “Several promises have been made by Midwestern but once a sale is made there is nothing to keep them from selling the dog parks, etc.”
  • Once sold, the Foothills library is not intended to be used as a library but rather as a study area.”
  • It was said by staff that less books were being checked out but a woman who is a library volunteer shared that would be expected since library hours and days have significantly decreased.”

From the comments offered you get the idea. There were a lot of difficult questions for staff with less than satisfactory answers. Staff promised to look into the many questions and to offer complete answers online at the city’s website.

Round 2 of the “library war” is:

  • TONIGHT, Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 6 PM
  • at the Foothills Branch Library, Coyote Room

The same presentation will be made before the Library Advisory Board with the same opportunity for citizen comments. Seating will probably be at a premium. A word to the wise, come early to guarantee yourself a seat. Let’s outdo the attendance figure of the Monday night meeting. It’s no longer a matter of just saving Foothills library but it also includes preserving the programs and the space needed to conduct them at FRAC as well.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Why bother to save the Foothills branch library in Glendale from sale? After all, proponents of the sale say we will still have the 65,000 SF Main library, the Velma Teague branch at 15,000 SF and will have a downsized Foothills branch library at about 9,000 SF located at the Foothills Recreation and Aquatic Center (FRAC). To hear the city’s mouthpiece, the current Library Director Michael Beck tell it, Glendale is advancing technologically by the adoption of a digital library system and that big, old 33,500 SF branch is no longer needed. Really? I beg to differ.

I have given a great deal of thought as to why this library or any library, for that matter, is important to our community of Glendale. Its sale devalues our community in so many ways.

A little history is in order. Our nation’s public library system was an American invention. Europeans had had libraries for years, hundreds of years before America was born…but they were subscription libraries and not affordable for the general public.

The public library system was born in 1833 in Peterborough, New Hampshire. All of its citizens decided that everyone within the town had the right to share, free of charge and regardless of one’s income, all of the community’s stored knowledge. The only stipulations were that the material had to be returned in good condition and on time.

It was a radical, new idea that quickly spread. There were 188 public libraries in 11 states by 1880. Every state had public libraries by 1910. Today, across the country there are nearly 20,000 main or branch public libraries.  There are more libraries in this country than there is any chain store or eatery, including Starbucks.  70% of all of the people in this country have a library card. A majority of Americans…doesn’t matter whether you are black, white, brown or purple…doesn’t matter if you are young or old…doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor…doesn’t matter if you are educated or a dropout…use the public library system.

Public libraries have evolved over the years to meet specific community needs. Gone are the days of the stereotypical, pinch-faced librarian demanding silence. I remember a high school field trip to our local, public library to learn, of all things, the Dewey Decimal System so that we could efficiently find our way through the college stacks as we researched material for the endless papers we had to write.

Today’s public libraries are part refuge and part community center. It would surprise you to know that many people who visit a public library don’t borrow a single book. For some it is a quiet sanctuary, warm and dry. You could sit there all day and not be bothered. It wards off the loneliness of life for others. Yet, in a fit of schizophrenia, it is a place of constant activities…you can take a class, participate in a book club discussion, hear a visiting musician or enjoy a lecture. Moms can take their little ones to story time to discover the wonderful, magical world of books.

It is a resource to those looking for a job, or needing to use a computer because they can’t afford one or the cost of the internet even if they had a computer. It is a place where a research librarian has helped countless numbers of children to do research for a writing assignment.

Its wealth is beyond measure…books, magazines, newspapers, CDs, DVDs, movies.  You can use, read and borrow anything within its four walls…for free. Digital media is fine. I use it often, very often but there is something special about a book. The use of digital media is growing and should be encouraged but not as a replacement for the brick and mortar public library but as an enhancement to its offerings.

If nothing else will persuade about the importance of Foothills branch library to our community, consider these facts. A Florida study found that for each dollar of taxpayer money spent on libraries, communities received $6.54 in benefits. A Philadelphia study found that a home near a library increases in value by over $9,000.

There are all kinds of studies on the ideal size of a library system in a community. It seems to be generally accepted as a standard that a community should have 1 to 1.5 square feet per person. Glendale has a population of 239,000. That equates to a library system of between 239,000 square feet to 358,000 square feet. Glendale has the Main Library at 65,000 SF; Foothills at half that size for 33,500 SF; and Velma Teague at half of Foothills’ size at 15,000 SF. The total square feet of library space currently in Glendale is 113,500 square feet or about half the amount Glendale should have of between 239,000 – 358,000 square feet. If anything, this city council should be making a commitment to increase the amount of library space within our community and it could be done by building the long-awaited and overdue West Branch Library. Even if and when, it adds the West Branch library Glendale will still remain short of the space standard for a community.

The idea promoted by some staffers that Glendale residents can use other cities’ library resources it absurd. It is tantamount to declaring that Glendale is a second-rate city unwilling to meet the needs of its residents by providing the services that they consider important to the health and well being of all of Glendale.

Society in general and the people of Glendale, in particular, are not ready to abandon our libraries and if truth be told, will never be. Why bother to save Foothills? Because libraries are everything from haven to research center to community center for all. They are an anchor within our community. Libraries will continue to evolve and to adapt to societal and technological changes but they can never be replaced. A lot of information is available digitally these days but remember, a lot of information is still on paper.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

I obtained a copy of the original 1997 contract between the City of Glendale and Midwestern University. Nowhere in the document does it say the city must sell the land to Midwestern as a result of Midwestern’s offer to buy.

In 1997 the city used its Capital Improvement Fund to purchase 3.5 acres for $434,508.15 plus closing costs. I suspect the value of the land has probably doubled over the past 18 years with all of the development of the adjacent area. It is offering $5 million for the land and building.The agreement includes the following stipulations:

  • Should the city stop using the building as a library or wishes to sell the land and building Midwestern can exercise its first option within 120 days to buy the property and building at fair market value.
  • The city must build and operate a library on the site and for no other purpose.
  • The exterior landscaping must match that of Midwestern University and Midwestern was granted the right to review and approve/disapprove the design plan.
  • Midwestern has the right to use the library’s meeting rooms and auditorium without charge and will be provided a separate and private entrance.

What is clear is that Midwestern approached the city with an offer to buy the building and the land. This proposal was not a city initiative. The city does not have to sell to Midwestern. It can continue to operate the library on the property as long as it wishes.

Senior staff, for some unfathomable reason, is trying to put lipstick on this pig in order to sell the idea to the city council and the general public.

Since senior staff seems incapable of saying, “Hell no, we won’t go,” it will be up the citizens of Glendale to make clear that this is an idea that’s dead on arrival.

It is also the perfect time to tell the mayor and city council that as city finances improve, your priority to to restore days and hours to the libraries; to restore the cuts made to the city’s recreational programs; and to focus on the promised construction of the West Branch Library to serve over 30% of Glendale’s population that does not have the same convenient access to a Glendale library as do residents of Glendale’s other districts. Make your voices heard. Glendale’s elected officials occasionally need to be reminded that they represent you.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

On Tuesday, February 3, 2015 the Glendale city council had a workshop session. On its agenda were 3 items: sale of the Foothills Library building to Midwestern University and its relocation to the Foothills Recreation and Aquatic Center; consideration of council support of a Certificate of Necessity application with the Arizona Department of Health Services for advanced life support ambulance transport services; and council consideration of moving their staff from classified to “at-will” employment.

Let’s begin with agenda item #1, the Foothills Library. Back in 1997 (I was not on city council at that time) the city purchased land from Midwestern University to build the Foothills Library. I do not have the original purchase contract but it was revealed at the workshop that there were restrictions within the purchase contract. Those restrictions included that the city after purchase, could only use the land for governmental purposes and if the city were to sell the land Midwestern not only has the first right of purchase but it also had final say in who could purchase it, if it was not Midwestern.

Apparently Midwestern came to the city in January of 2014 seeking to buy the building and land. The first point of note is that senior staff knew about this a year ago. Why didn’t they notify council immediately? Instead they moved forward with two appraisals of the property; one in March of 2014 valued at $3.4 million dollars and one in July of 2014 valued at $4.7 million dollars. By the time senior staff informed council it was November of 2014, election season and understandably council gave direction to table the item until a new council was seated in January of 2015.

Midwestern is offering $5 million dollars in cash for the purchase of the library and land. Never mind that it cost the city $7.8 million dollars to open the library doors. What about the artwork? Midwestern’s CEO, Kathleen Goeppinger, is an art collector. Every year when the Glendale Arts Council hosts its art show at Sahuaro Ranch, Goeppinger is invited to privately preview and purchase artwork from the show. One of the pieces of artwork at Foothills is the Dale Chilhuly glass art appraised at $400,000, the “Magic Doors” piece proposed for relocation to Velma Teague Library and a mural appraised at $85,000 and logistically unable to be moved. Midwestern wants the Chilhuly art to be included in the sale. The cost to relocate the Chilhuly to another Glendale building is $85,000 to $100,000 and if the building is sold, Glendale needs to retain this one of a kind piece and it’s relocation should be done from the proceeds of the sale.

There are impacts to the Foothills Aquatic and Recreation Center. The space that would be dedicated to the library hosts special interest classes. These would have to be relocated to another Glendale facility. Senior staff estimated (and it will go higher) that it would cost $900,000 to transform the FRAC space to accommodate the library and that includes proposed technology upgrades. City Manager Brenda Fischer got nervous enough to at one point to throw out the idea of expanding FRAC.

Midwestern mandated that this sale be completed by September 15, 2015. When it realized that city council may not be totally on board and was questioned about it further, they said that the city had until the end of 2015.

This is an idea driven totally by Midwestern University; not the city. The city sells the library, moves a much smaller library into FRAC, and retrofits FRAC or even expands it to accommodate the library. Watch all of the sale proceeds being expended to accomplish this move. Whatever proceeds are left go into the city’s General Fund where it can be used for anything…even the city’s sports related debt.

What can you do? Plenty. You can continue to email the mayor and city council about this proposal at:

There is a specially called meeting of the citizens’ Library Advisory Board tonight, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015 at the city’s Main Library at 59th Avenue and Brown. Please note: Since this meeting was not properly posted it has been changes. Please make note of the new day and location. The special meeting of the Library Advisory Board is now scheduled for Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 6 PM at the Foothills Library.There is a public hearing portion of this meeting. The public, you, can speak at this meeting and voice your opinion on this proposal.

There will be a series of district meetings on this proposal. No dates or locations have been announced to date. When they are I will post them on this blog.

You need to stay aware, be informed and express your opinion to the mayor and council. A wave of non-support from the public should kill this proposal. It’s up to you. If you love your library you are going to have to get involved and fight for it.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

A few days ago I had a blog on the controversial senior staff proposal to relocate the Foothills Branch Library to the Foothills Recreation and Aquatic Center. It will be discussed and direction given by the Glendale City Council on Tuesday, February 3, 2015.

Shelley Mosley, a former Glendale employee as well as a former Manager of the Velma Teague Branch Library submitted the following as a comment to that blog. Fearing that many readers may never see her comment, I offer her analysis as a Guest Commentary:

Submitted by Shelley Mosley on 2015/01/31 at 10:17 am

Joyce, your post covers everything that’s wrong about selling Foothills Branch Library. Good job!                                                                  Here is my open letter to the Mayor and Council:

Dear Mayor and Council,

I am writing to ask you to reconsider your plans for the Foothills Branch Library, but before I do, I just want to briefly establish my credentials. I worked at the Velma Teague Branch Library almost twenty-five years, eighteen of those as its manager. Most recently, I worked at the Glendale Community College Library, which is high-tech. Just to make matters clear, I am not opposed to electronic resources. In fact, I currently write for three companies (EBSCO, GALE, and ABC-CLIO) that publish electronic reference books. As a citizen of Glendale, as a professional librarian, and as a member of the Foothills Branch Library design team during its conception and construction, I am deeply concerned about its fate.

You are being told that the relocation of the Foothills Branch Library will create an “expansion of library services.” The branch book collection is going to lose 141,000 books. Does that sound like an expansion to you? There will be 35,000 books left, or only about 25% of the collection. This would be the same as if every year you got a whole butchered pig for your freezer. But this year, you’re told you’re getting a better pig, an enhanced pig, an improved pig. You open the butcher paper package and find you’ve only gotten the feet and the head.

Yes, there will be electronic versions of books available at the stripped down branch, and yes, there are people who prefer to read their books on Kindles, Nooks, etc. But there are already e-books available to the public at the Glendale Library System. There are probably just as many, if not more, of your constituents who still like hard copy books. Have you visited any of the Glendale libraries? Have you seen the sheer joy of a child as he or she takes that carefully selected stack of books to the front desk to be checked out? Have you watched a story time, where the children excitedly examine the shelves of picture books before and after the librarian tells them a story? This happy experience, learning to love books, is a stepping-stone to literacy.

You are being told there will be “reduced annual operating expenses without eliminating full-time library staff.” Yes, full-time staff stays, but the pages are losing their jobs. The pages are the ones who keep the books in order. If you don’t think that’s important, try finding a misplaced novel.

You have been told there will be “increased library hours for the public with 13 additional hours a week, going from currently 36 hours to 49 hours which is 676 hours more a year.” The library used to be open 68 hours a week. That’s 1664 more hours a year.

You have been told “there is space available at the Foothills Recreation and Aquatics Center (FRAC). By relocating and creating a new branch library here, it is possible to utilize existing city-owned space.” Have you looked at that space? Library staff has been told the library is going to be in the Coyote Room and the current rec. room where the pool tables are. Compare that space to the Foothills Branch Library. Is this an improvement? You have also been told that people can use the meeting rooms after the FBL becomes property of Midwestern. How convenient will this be? Have you been on a college campus recently? Most important, as Midwestern grows, how long will these rooms be available?

Selling the library the citizens of Glendale voted for and love will give you at most 4-5 months of funds to pay for the maintenance of the hockey arena. What kind of a deal is this? And when you do sell the library, at least be honest with your constituents; don’t spin this pig in the poke to be “improved library service,” because it isn’t.

Hoping you can see past the hype.                                                 Shelley Mosley

After the Super Bowl life returns to normal in Glendale and on Tuesday, February 3, the city council will have its first budget workshop at 9 AM and a regular workshop at 1:30 PM. The afternoon workshop has 3 topics, all of which present future implications for its citizens. The 3 agenda items are: Potential relocation of the Foothills Branch Library; Overview of the Certificate of Necessity (CON) Process; and At Will Employment for Mayor and Council Staffing.

Agenda Item 1 on the potential relocation of the Foothills Branch Library is being driven by staff and Midwestern University. Be aware that former Mayor Scruggs is on the Board of Directors of Midwestern. It seems Midwestern has its eye on the Foothills library building and wants to buy it. Naturally, senior management and Midwestern had to come up with a plan to sell this idea to city council.

This council, to date, has not proven itself to be very aggressive in questioning senior staff on issues that come before it. Let’s hope at this workshop they will reverse this trend and question staff vigorously about this proposal. The library would be relocated to the Foothills Recreational and Aquatic Center (FRAC).

Here is where the sale hype comes in. Note that there are no negative points. Senior staff would have everyone think this idea is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Senior staff contends that:

  • There would be increased library hours (matching the hours of the times when the FRAC is open) for the public with 13 additional hours a week
  • Continuation of provision to patrons access to physical books, materials, technology, meeting space, study room space, special interest classes and events, book drop and online ordering capabilities
  • Increase digital material collections and provide a new array of technologies (tablets, green screens, 3-D printer, new desktop computers, enhanced Wi-Fi)
  • Relocation costs covered by transaction revenue
  • Reduced annual operating expenses without eliminating full-time library staff

The carrot Midwestern University dangles, after buying the Foothills library, is an expression of partnership interest for:

  • Continuing to allow community groups to use the meeting rooms
  • A new and potential partnership with an organization dedicated to helping veterans with health related issues
  • Additional special interest health classes
  • The mentoring and tutoring opportunities for youth
  • The sponsorship of free health-related clinics
  • Partnering with use of medical research and health related materials

This scheme deserves thorough and intensive questioning by city council. Just a sampling of questions to be asked are:

  • The Foothills library is 33,500 square feet in size. The FRAC is 69,000 square feet. How much FRAC space will be used by relocation of a 33,500 SF library?
  • Foothills library was specifically built to be technologically adaptable. Why does relocation only offer the possibility of the library’s technological advancement?
  • What are the costs associated with adapting FRAC to meet the needs of a library?
  • What amenities and services at FRAC would be lost to dedicated space for the library?
  • What amenities and services currently offered at Foothills library would be eliminated due to relocation to FRAC?
  • Dale Chihuly is a world renowned glass artisan. One of his latest exhibits was this past winter at the Desert Botanical Gardens. The city has his ‘Moon and Stars’ piece over the main circulation desk. In addition there is an 80-foot mural by Melissa Paxton, Kathy Bradford’s ‘Magic Doors’ to the children’s reading room as well as countless other pieces of fine art throughout the building. Will senior staff agree to a stipulation that all of the art work within and outside the building remain the city’s property, would not be part of the sale and would be relocated to other city properties?
  • The cost to build the Foothills Library itself (without the fixtures within) was $6.1 million dollars. Will senior staff agree to a stipulation that it would not accept a price lower than the original cost to build the facility?
  • Senior staff was directed by city council to identify city property it could sell. Was the Foothills library one of the properties identified for sale? Were Glendale’s Main Library and Velma Teague Library also identified as potential properties that could be sold? Were the 3 libraries identified by and approved by this council as appropriate for sale?
  • The sale of city property was identified as a means of shoring up Glendale’s financial situation. It can be assumed that after paying the costs of relocation of the library and its art work, the balance would be placed in Glendale’s General Fund where it could be used for anything, including the $15 million dollar annual payment to IceArizona for its management of Glendale’s hockey arena. Yet Glendale library system is woefully inadequate to serve a population of 239,000 residents. On certain days various of the libraries are closed and hours at all 3 have been reduced. Will senior staff agree to stipulate that the first priority for any money realized from a sale of Foothills would be utilized to enhance and upgrade the Main Library and Velma Teague? Are they further willing to agree to stipulate that the funds would not be used for sports related debt or activity as well as the media center, Westgate parking garage and the Public Safety Training Facility?

In summary, on the face of it, the proposal to relocate Foothills Library is driven by senior staff and Midwestern University. This is an idea whose time has not come. It does not serve the best interests of Glendale’s residents. Add to this proposal senior staff’s intent to hire an “outside facilitator” (at thousands of dollars, to be sure) to oversee and coordinate a public input process. Phooey…this facilitator will, in reality, try to sell the idea to the general public. Who is kidding who? This proposal should be rejected. I urge all Glendale residents to contact their district councilmembers before Tuesday, February 3, 2015, pose their own questions about this proposal and let them know that they do not support it. Here are their email addresses:

In my next blog we’ll take a look at the other 2 agenda items: The Fire Department’s request for a Certificate of Necessity (CON) and at-will employees for the mayor and council.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

%d bloggers like this: