Is it really true that The Times-Advocate just gave Councilman John Masson a front page photo, a three-column headline right beneath the banner, and 71 inches of column space to announce that he is running for re-election next November?! Is it really news-worthy that an incumbent is seeking re-election? I expect that you will, in fairness, give his opponent, Vanessa Valenzuela, a 30-year resident of Escondido with vast financial expertise, equal coverage in next week’s issue.
As far as Mr. Masson’s coverage, isn’t it nice that he pronounces that he’s doing a good job! It was he and the other three conservative members of the council who pushed through the very questionable, possibly illegal, outsourcing of the library last October. Mr. Masson and his nearly identical co-councilmen, listened only to LS&S (Library Systems and Services, owned by Argosy Private Equity, a hedge fund from New York) propaganda, not heeding in the least the 200 plus residents, who spoke against it in various public forums, plus the 4,000 area residents who signed petitions against it. Argosy’s mission statement says it is in business to “generate outstanding returns” and “substantially grow revenues and profits” for the businesses it owns.
It’s rather ironic that Mr. Masson has already declared the transition a success when just a day or two before our (ten-year!!) contract was to take effect, Santa Clarita announced that they were firing the same company for poor performance and to save money. Santa Clarita said that all 17 full-time library positions had turned over since the contract went into effect. City Manager Darren Hernandez said all except one, who retired, went to lateral positions in other cities for better pay and benefits. He also said that patronage was way down, and that the city figured they could SAVE $400,000 a year by running the library itself!
Mr. Masson et al also chose to ignore reports that Jackson County Oregon was also firing LS&S, once they realized that nearly a third of the $5 million they were paying per year went to company profits. They are now struggling to get out of a stifling contract, a position in which Escondido will no doubt find itself in a couple of years.
Mr. Masson seems a little worried that the “library issue” might come back to haunt him in November. I would like to remind my fellow library lovers who fought to keep the library “public” that it was John Masson, Ed Gallo, Michael Morasco, and Sam Abed who gave the running of our most used community resource to a private, for-profit entity. And for 10 years at that! All but Morasco are up for in November. Let’s get the vote out for a much needed city government “correction”!
VIRGINIA ABUSHANAB, Escondido
Editor—The answer to your quesiton is yes, we put Mr. Masson on the front page. Just as we put the mayor’s opponent on the front page, and just as we will put all of the candidates for city council on the front page as soon as we interview them. We treat them all equally. So I would make a suggestion: Chill. Or maybe, try decaf.
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