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Reactions to Bookworm Tax Proposal

I recently reported that Mendocino County library supporters informed me of their intention to circulate petitions to place a tax measure on the November 2022 ballot that would add a one-quarter cent (0.25%) sales tax to fund libraries in Mendocino County. Nearly every town in this county has a “Friends of the Library” group that work, organize and fund-raise to establish brick-and-mortar libraries throughout the county. My daughter is a founding member of the Laytonville library group.

That item caused a number of readers to respond expressing their concerns about the proposed voter initiative.

Here’s a few of the comments:

Actually, there’s more than Measure A expenditures to audit. The county should have a total audit of its budget when the present CEO departs. That allows the new CEO a fresh start, as well as finally allowing the public knowledge of county expenditures and revenue.

Is there any assurance that the present Measure A money has not been illegally diverted from library expenditures? With that assurance in place, I am all in favor of the new library tax.

— George Dorner

How could anyone ever prove or refute the proper use of the money?

— Carmel

I’m very pro-library but equally anti any new tax. If I recall correctly Boss Angelo and her lackeys on the BOS tried to divert Measure A funds for other purposes. Two or three Library Directors were disappeared by this cabal after they and the Library Commission exposed the chicanery and tried to get the money, which eventually was returned to the library. If I got any of the details wrong, I’m sure The Major will correct them. At any rate, like you, I’m very conflicted about this proposed tax measure.

— Stephen Rosenthal

I would like to support a library sales tax measure. But there are several reasons to be skeptical: This Board of Supervisors is not showing the kind of management or backbone that would lead some voters to support any new money for them even if it’s in a lockbox. Not one Supervisor has shown any serious commitment to library spending oversight. There is no “supplement, not supplant” provision. The Library Advisory Board has not demonstrated that the last library sales tax measure was spent for objective “improvements.” There’s nothing stopping County admin from either 1) delaying the spending and sitting on it to make the books like balanced, or 2) overcharging the Library fund for support services just because there’s money there. There’s no specific list of “improvements” that the money must be spent on.

PS. Don’t forget that Mendo figured out a way to spend $5 million for a $1 million house — “a Crisis Residential Treatment facility,” a house that some observers have noted is not well built — and brags about it as some kind of accomplishment. Then we heard today that even though they held a well-hyped “grand opening” it’s not open yet because the contractor Mendo picked has some kind of licensing problem.

— Mark Scaramella

Here’s my reply to the concerns these intelligent folks have raised:

All good points which is why this proposed measure builds a super-solid lock box to protect and, I believe, prohibit any attempt to divert tax proceeds from the special library fund the measure creates. Here are the actual lock box provisions which are clear and unambiguous:

1. To impose a permanent one-quarter cent (0.25 percent) sales tax for the specific purpose of maintaining and improving library services in Mendocino County; and

2. To create a special fund for these tax proceeds to be used exclusively for maintaining and improving library services. At least forty percent (40%) are reserved for capital investments, such as building improvements.

AT&T, Verizon 5G plans on hold

Also, in the same column I wrote about the proposed library tax, I also informed you about AT&T and Verizon moving forward with their 5G expansion plans — despite a request from the U.S. government to delay the project.

The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) and Department of Transportation (DOT). want the rollout delayed, concerned about possible impacts on airplane and airport controls.

But the companies have refused, claiming that 5G technology is “every bit as essential to our country’s economic vitality, public safety and national interests as the airline industry.”

These two mega-corporations act as if they are beyond the reach of the U.S. government.

The FAA and DOT, when it comes to airline safety issues, have a long record of mostly looking out for the interests of the public. In this case, the feds are concerned about 5G interfering with airplane instrumentation and avionics, not exactly minor concerns. For example, avionics includes such things as communication systems, navigation systems, aircraft flight-control systems, fuel systems, collision-avoidance systems, flight recorders, and weather systems

Both Federal agencies should immediately change their “request” to an order.

Well on Tuesday, Jan. 18, in response to escalated pressure from the Feds and the airline industry, AT&T and Verizon said they will delay the rollout of 5G service near certain U.S. airports after major airlines warned that it would lead to flight cancellations and have a negative impact on cargo operations.

Among major carriers to push back, United Airlines said Monday that 15,000 flights and upward of 1.25 million passengers will be negatively impacted each year if the plan were implemented in its current form.

“Unfortunately, this will result in not only hundreds of thousands of flight cancellations and disruptions for customers across the industry in 2022, but also the suspension of cargo flights into these locations, causing a negative ripple-effect on an already fragile supply chain,” United Airlines said in a statement.

In announcing its intention to delay the rollout, AT&T said in a statement on Tuesday, “At our sole discretion we have voluntarily agreed to temporarily defer turning on a limited number of towers around certain airport runways as we continue to work with the aviation industry and the FAA to provide further information about our 5G deployment,” adding, “We are frustrated by the FAA’s inability to do what nearly 40 countries have done, which is to safely deploy 5G technology without disrupting aviation services.”

“We are launching our advanced 5G services everywhere else as planned with the temporary exception of this limited number of towers,” the company’s statement continued.

Verizon also announced Tuesday it would limit its 5G network around airports.

(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, observer@pacific.net, the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District, and is also chairman of the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org.)


LINDA BAILEY COMMENTS:

I was an activist for increased tax support for the County Library, both the failed parcel tax and successful Measure A. However, I will not support this tax proposal unless and until the library is structured in accordance with the governing statute for County Free Libraries. It currently is treated as a County department for command and control by the CEO and as a special district, which it legally is, for the financial accounting.. This hybrid model deprives the County Librarian of the ability to purchase equipment according to his/her professional judgment; for example, three designs for the new circulation desk in Ukiah were submitted before the CEO gave her approval. Importantly, this arrangement also empowers the CEO to siphon off library funds for county personnel through A87 charges–check out the last budget. Requiring equipment purchases to be made through GSA (in the CEO’s office) not only prevents the librarian from possible economies but also enables charging the library for any time that any county employee spends processing the purchase.

4 Comments

  1. George Dorner January 28, 2022

    An audit of county finances would prove or refute whether taxpayers’ money was properly used. It would also produce the budget figures that Ms Angelo either can’t or won’t provide to the Board. It would also start the new CEO/CAO with a clean slate. So why isn’t Ms Angelo asking for an independent audit to end her term? She doesn’t mind farming out routine matters her county counsel can’t handle; for that matter, farming out most anything of importance.

    And to Ms Bailey: bless your heart for uncovering yet another sneaky bit of probably illegal financial juggling. Who knows what else an audit would uncover?

  2. Linda Bailey January 29, 2022

    RETRACTION: Contrary to my previous comments, I will support and promote a permanent 1/2% sales tax for the county library.

    Happily, I woke up this morning saner. The sales tax is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL for the survival of our county libraries. The dedicated property tax is simply not enough to keep the doors open.

    An institution with some bureaucratic warts is way better than no institution at all. We would have to wait a long time for perfection. Shutting our libraries would be a grievous loss for all county residents.

    I urge all to support this sales tax.

    • Jim Shields January 29, 2022

      Thank you, Linda, couldn’t have said it better myself, although I tried.
      -Jim Shields

  3. George Dorner January 29, 2022

    I dislike opposing fellow library lovers, but I maintain my position. Dedicated funding that does not make it to the library is exactly as useful to the library as no funding whatsoever. And, given past history, there is little likelihood any increased funding won’t be used on cannabis control, or outsourced legal opinions, or whatever. I say whatever, because no one is about to confide where the funds actually go in such a case.

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