Library materials budget reduced by $500,000 to pay for pilot after-school program
By Anna Daniels
Library supporters across the city breathed a collective sigh of relief when Mayor Jerry Sanders was termed out. Faced with a tanking economy and structural deficits, his top down leadership style coupled with the demand for centralized control and uniformity had a uniquely savage and disproportionate impact on the library department.
Children in low income neighborhoods were left without computer access when the hours were cut; seven neighborhood libraries were threatened with closure; material budgets were slashed and staff was cut to the bone. By 2011 the library budget had been reduced 22.2% from 2007 levels, while the police department had realized a 9.6% increase in funding and fire a 14.4% increase in that same period.
When Bob Filner was elected, his proposed library budget included additional hours of library operation. This was part of his platform of shifting General Fund support back to neighborhoods. It appeared that Sander’s vindictive, out of touch brand of cronyism carried out by capo Kris Michel and spinmeister Gerry Braun had ended. A more cynical explanation provided by a city council member was that the economy was improving and that explained the additional hours.
It is budget time for fiscal year 2015. Filner is gone as well as Sanders. We are now getting a glimpse of the budget priorities and management style of our third strong mayor, Kevin Faulconer.