Despite the recent admonishment by a San Diego newspaper editorial to conduct itself in an aboveboard manner, Escondido Mayor Abed and his henchman Jeff Epp used the occasion of an October 4 town hall meeting to broadcast statements bordering on unmitigated blarney.
By arguing that a proposed contract with an outsourcing vendor “protects the city’s control and public interest” in Escondido Public Library, the mayor deliberately camouflages two facts — the city lacks legal authority to run the library, and the public already has expressed and continues to express prodigious opposition to the very idea. In the past, this mayor who spearheaded the destruction of the only branch library now blathers on about million-dollar savings and a “vibrant” new look to the remaining main public library. For an elected public official who years back on a tour of this library did not know how long books could be checked out for, this misrepresentation sounds merely like more nonessential rhetoric.
Epp’s representations are no more accurate than the mayor’s. The city manager apparently suffering from color blindness saw “no red flags” in the damning audit from a public library district in Jackson County, Oregon, arguing that the “overwhelming majority of evidence” supports the vendor’s record of service not just there but elsewhere. Poppycock! More than 18 states in America this century alone have canceled contracts with this vendor or rejected outright offers to run their libraries. Hawaii even passed legislation as a result of harm to their state library system due to a recommendation made by the vendor.
The city council’s problem with underfunded pension liability must not justify the dissembling over the looming privatization of Escondido Public Library. Please join the swelling army of citizens in favor of keeping the library just as it is.
M. GREG DEAN, Escondido