In a recent article of the Times-Advocate, “Oregon county library report critical of LS&S,” Escondido City Manager Jeff Epp is quoted as saying that “Jackson County is the only government entity that has expressed any concerns with LS&S.” Since when is the voice of a governmental entity the only acceptable voice when weighing the merits of a case? What about the many voices of the opposition whose intelligent and well researched findings have produced serious, legitimate questions about LS&S? Does Epp think their voices are inconsequential? Do they not have a rightful place at the table?
It is clear that this highly over-paid city manager with staff at his command has not performed his due diligence in researching LS&S with the same level of competence as the opposition? This is Epp’s fiduciary duty failure – and a great disservice to the residents he is supposed to serve.
Epp further goes on to say that “every city, county, or library they have done business with has provided glowing reviews…” It is simply not true! Our research, too extensive to cite here, does not support Epp’s claim. We can name many libraries, cities and counties who have anything but glowing accounts about LS&S Libraries. His citing of the Osceola County in Florida is a case of “cherry picking.” We can only guess courtesy of LS&S.
LS& S misrepresentation of their resume begs the question: why, after being in business 30 years, do they have only 22 district contracts? Their claim to have 83 or 35 branches as separate contracts is simply misleading.
The fundamental question that needs to be asked is whose greater good is at stake here: the hard-nosed City Manager Epp, Mayor Abed and City Council majority who refuse to listen to the voices of the community, or the community whose passionate fight to save the library being ignored?
Our local politicians are undeniably tied to a philosophical position that holds less government is better. In this case, they are profoundly wrong. Libraries are an investment in community. They are the heart and soul of the community. They do not belong in a for-profit corporation. They do not belong on Wall Street!
Whatever Epp’s and Abed’s deeper motivation is in outsourcing our library remains a question that does not go away. What is desperately needed is transparency from our local government. That, we do not have.
CHRISTINE NAVA, Escondido