Recs and Reads
By Anne McKay Garris
When the City Council starts talking about cutting the budget, Ruth Eckerd Hall, the Downtown Market, and other groups with paid staffs and e-mail lists of supporters busily lobby the Council. Thus, the Council hears, at length, how valuable these services are to the community.
The City Library and Recreation Center staffs, however, are barred from lobbying the Council because they are city employees. Last week, in fact, citizens requesting the patrons of the library to write, e-mail or call City Hall were told not to do it on library premises. (I would have been tempted to ask them why this was the city premises, not the citizens' premises.)
So, the Council suggests cutting some services and get a great deal of protest. Staff of the libraries are not allowed to lobby to protect them from budget cuts. That leaves the job up to the patrons of the libraries.
Because the Clearwater Beach Library is not expensive enough to the city to be worth closing, it seems, perhaps, maybe, at this time, that it will avoid the budget cuts. Nevertheless, talk is most emphatic about closing the East Clearwater Library and cutting back on others. Since the economic downturn, the libraries are more important than ever to those people who couldn't afford a ticket to Ruth Eckerd Hall. Using the library computers, especially, is important to people without computers who need to write resumes, research the job market or take other action that would put them back to work.
As fewer and fewer people can afford paid entertainment, the recreation centers become more important. Government can provide free recreation and prevent the boredom that can lead to juvenile delinquency, or it can close the centers and find it needs the saved money to hire more police and build new detention centers.
Since neither the libraries or recreation centers have staff or special interest groups to lobby for them, it's up to the rest of us to tell our Council why we think libraries and recreation centers are of utmost importance. Would you do it? You can e-mail our City Council members at: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Or, go and take your friends to the City Council meeting on the first and third Thursdays of the month. Citizens to Be Heard is on the agenda around 6 p.m. and you get three minutes to talk about anything you want to. Furthermore, your arguments will be heard out there in TV land and, perhaps, someone will join you in the fight. Tell them how much we need our libraries and recreation centers. If you don't do it, maybe no one else will take your place and wouldn't that be a shame?
Return to Current Edition