Meridian’s morality police come up with new argument to destroy Library District | Opinion
Based on the testimony Monday night before the Ada County commissioners to dissolve the Meridian Library District, it’s clear that this is not a serious effort and shouldn’t be taken seriously by county commissioners.
Of course, the idea to dissolve the library district over some books that a small group of people don’t like is ridiculous right from the start.
But at Monday night’s meeting, one of the group’s organizers said they want to dissolve the district and then turn around and form a new one.
“If our petition is successful, we will immediately submit our next petition to reestablish the library district,” said Michael Hon, a former candidate for Meridian City Council and one of the members of “Concerned Citizens of Meridian,” who brought the petition to put a dissolution vote on the ballot.
County commissioners Monday night heard testimony from a few people who support dissolution and dozens who oppose it. An estimated 600 people showed up to testify, mostly against the petition.
Testimony is scheduled to continue Wednesday night.
The citizens group has raised concerns about the content of some library materials that they say are objectionable, including the book “Captain Underpants,” illustrating how ridiculous the imposition of their arbitrary standards would be.
The group listed four other books as examples of “graphic” and “disgusting” pornography. Some were in the teen and adult sections, and others were not available in the Meridian Library at all.
The “concerned citizens” have said the library trustees and director have not listened to their concerns, necessitating complete dissolution of the district.
No, the trustees and the director have listened to their concerns and have chosen not to act on their unreasonable requests.
This group wants to throw the baby out with the bathwater then go get a new baby.
If all goes according to their plan and voters somehow, incredibly, were to vote for dissolution, the county commissioners, by county statute, would dispose of the district’s property and assets.
That means they would sell all the district’s buildings, all the district’s land, all the books, shelves, equipment, all gone, disposed of.
That includes 152,000 items in the district’s print collection, the Cherry Lane Branch building, the Cherry Lane administrative offices annex, the unBound tech branch, undeveloped land in south Meridian and about $15 million saved up in various bank accounts.
And then the organizers would turn around and re-create a new library district, buy new buildings, new books, new equipment and build back its bank account.
Perhaps if the so-called “Concerned Citizens of Meridian” had stuck to their original argument that they just don’t believe residents in Meridian should have access to some books they don’t like, they might be able to win over Ada County commissioners to at least put the dissolution on the ballot for voters to decide.
But this new argument of dissolving the district only to create a new one is a foolish waste of time and the wrong way to go about it, and the commissioners would be wise to say so, deny the petition and move on.
In the meantime, the anti-library folks would spend their time more wisely by running campaigns for the library board of trustees, try to win seats and effect the changes they’re seeking — no matter how wrongheaded.
As trustee Megan Larsen pointed out at Monday night’s hearing, “They are unhappy with the trustees, duly elected by the voters. There are legal steps in place to address concerns with trustees, namely, to persuade voters to vote for trustees that share the vision and values the petitioners have for public libraries.”
That’s the proper way to pursue their goals.
Not destroying the entire district.
Statesman editorials are the unsigned opinion of the Idaho Statesman’s editorial board. Board members are opinion editor Scott McIntosh, opinion writer Bryan Clark, editor Chadd Cripe and newsroom editors Dana Oland and Jim Keyser.