Contact me

These days, I'm the director of the American Library Association' s Office for Intellectual Freedom. I'm also executive director and secretary of the Freedom to Read Foundation.

ALA correspondence goes to
jlarue [at] ala [dot] org.
Phone: 3 1 2 . 2 8 0 . 4 2 2 2
Please direct all other communications to
jlarue [at] jlarue [dot] com.
Phone: 7 2 0 . 5 3 0 . 4 2 9 4

No spam, please!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Douglas County Commissioner reclaim nominating process

Here is the article that tells the tale.

I find myself wondering about this issue of "accountability."

Suppose (just hypothetically) that Commissioner Repella were to cast the deciding vote on the appointment of a really bad board member. How does the "elected official component" make the situation more accountable? Commissioner Repella is term limited. To show public displeasure against that decision, no one can vote against her for Commissioner next time, because she can't run. And with the many other issues that Commissioners are tasked with, won't library issues tend to get lost in the cloud? If being an elected official just means that people can speak up at public meetings to the decision-makers, the public can do that at library board meetings, too.

But also, see this news article from 2011, in which then local Republican Party Chairman Mark Baisley said that "he was approached by a person running for a local utilities board. He says they had never gotten involved in local races like this, but then he realized, the party should get involved to start taking the country back from the Democrats, one small office at a time."

"They do make a difference. Town council members do make a difference," Baisley said. "Board members on library boards do make a difference."

My conclusion: the library board issue wasn't about accountability. It was about partisan control.

There's nothing illegal about that, incidentally. It wasn't illegal for the party to take over the local school board, either. But is it in the best interests of all Douglas County residents?

As far as the library is concerned, that depends on the actual process that's put in place. Will it be as open and inclusive as the library board's process? Will the Commissioners try to match the skills of candidates with the existing library vision, priorities, and projects? It's hard to know; so far, the Commissioners haven't asked about any of that.

No comments: