This is how public library budgets are cut. To the sound of thunderous applause along with unanimous approval from people elected to represent us.
It’s official. The Chicago City Council voted in a 50-0 unanimous vote to approve Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s budget. This will result in around $8 million in cuts for the Chicago Public Library system. This is $3.3 million less than the original $11 million that Emanuel proposed in his original budget.
Not a single alderman voted against the budget. Not one. Absolutely amazing. The budget was so good that not a single person elected to office thought it was a bad idea. Every Chicago City Council member voted in favor of reducing library staff, programs, and hours.
So this must mean that all the residents in Chicago wanted to cut library budgets and reduce the hours that the libraries are open. All the elected officials voted to cut funding for libraries and they represent the people of Chicago, right?
How is it possible then that voters in Pittsburgh voted for a new tax to fund their libraries with 72% in favor of the new tax? Or that the Ames Public Library got an $18 million renovation passed with 76% approving the additional funds? Both of those happened last week. Do voters outside of Chicago love their libraries more?
Most likely what happened is that the Chicago City Council faced the difficult task of having to make massive cuts to the budget and ended up just cutting everything. They probably figured that that was the best thing to do and then they decided that it would be a great idea to show solidarity in supporting their newly elected celebrity mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The net result is that the Chicago Public Library budget is getting cut $8 million and will have to layoff staff and reduce the hours that they are open each week.
It’s pathetic that every single alderman voted in favor of the budget. What’s the point of even having a city council if they all are going to support what the mayor wants to do? You might as well call him a dictator if he is going to have 100% of the city council in favor of what he wants to do. Here’s a crazy idea. Why not get rid of the entire city council and use the money saved from paying them to fully fund the Chicago Public Library? They are just gonna approve what Rahm wants to do anyway.
Sadly, it looks like the residents of Chicago will now have to take the issue into their own hands. They will probably have to start an initiative to force the government to fully fund their libraries. This is exactly what voters did earlier this year with Measure L in Los Angeles with 63% in favor. We can only hope the residents of Chicago are motivated enough to try to put the issue on the ballot.
How many more times do we need to see residents vote in favor of library funding before mayors and governors start realizing that people really love their libraries?