Note: This is a developing story. The Times-Advocate will include updates as we learn of them.
The opponents of the outsourcing of the Escondido Public Library went to Vista Superior court Monday morning to seek a Temporary Restraining Order to prevent the transition from a city operated Escondido Public Library to one privately-operated by contract for the city by Maryland-based Library Systems & Services (LS&S.) The changeover is scheduled to take place Monday, January 15.
Attorney Alan Geraci, representing Escondido residents Roy & Mary Garrett in Garrett v. City of Escondido asked Judge Earl A. Maas III to temporarily halt the transition until the case has been ruled on.
The judge is expected to rule on the motion by Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest.
The court appearance lasted about half an hour.
The city’s attorney argued that the Garretts lacked sufficient standing and that the city council had already acted as if the contract with LS&S was in force by the company’s hiring of a new head librarian Patricia Crosby—who is currently still in South Carolina, but will move to California soon.
Geraci argued that the law says that the council acted without property authority. The plaintiffs base their case on California Education Code § 18910.
The lawsuit states: “This action challenges the City of Escondido’s decision, Resolution 2017-139, through its City Council, on or about October 18, 2017, as void as a matter of law as an ultra vires act. Petitioners claim that the Municipal Library Act requirement, codified at California Education Code § 18910, that its public library shall be managed by a board of library trustees and such lawful management responsibility may not be usurped by Respondent, through its council. A Writ of Mandate is required to order Respondent to comply with the law.”
In a separate but related development, although the City of Escondido takes the position that it, rather than the board of library trustees mentioned in the Ed Code, can decide to approve of a consulting contract with LS&S over the objections of the board, one California City, the City of Santa Clarita, will be ending its six year contract with LS&S because, according to city staff, “over the past two-and-a-half fiscal years, service has not met the City’s high expectations.”
The city council item includes this background: “The Santa Clarita Public Library (SCPL) commenced operation as a City-provided service on July 1, 2011. The purpose of the transition was to improve public library services for the citizens of Santa Clarita. Among the changes implemented were the expansion of library hours, an increase in the annual budget for books and materials, and the opening of the Old Town Newhall Library. Since inception, SCPL has been operated and staffed through a contract with a private vendor, Library Systems & Services, LLC (LSSI), but in accordance with the Municipal Libraries Act (Education Code Section 18900 et seq.,) the SCPL is managed by the Library Board of Trustees.”
Readers can find the City of Santa Clarita city council item to transition away from an LS&S contract here: santaclaritacityca.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?Frame&MeetingID=1913&MediaPosition&ID=2122&CssClass