In which we discover one candidate works for the City of Valdosta and opposes SPLOST. Candidates took questions directly from the audience and answered them, unlike at later candidate forums. Candidates from the smaller cities started their tradition of not showing up for forums outside their cities. Here’s the list of qualified candidates. See also the videos of the 30 Club forum 2013-10-21 and the videos of the AAUW forum 2013-10-15.Call to Order, Moment of Silence for Congress, Pledge, Approval of Minutes, Treasurer’s Report.
The South Georgia Regional Library Board of Trustees will be meeting Tuesday, March 19 at 1PM in the Folsom Room of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Public Library to conduct regular business.The meeting is open to the public and all are welcome to attend. For more information call 333.0086.
Yes, that says March, but the calendar entry says May 21, today. And it says “open to the public and all are welcome to attend”. But are all welcome to record? Or do all have to stay inside an 8×4 foot blue rectangle next to a loud air cleaner? Was that just Kay Harris’ policy and will it change now that she has resigned as chair and from the board?
If there’s anything about this meeting on the library’s website, I can’t find it.
Here’s a video playlist of the 20 November 2012 South Georgia Regional Library Board meeting. And here’s George Rhynes’ editorial on what he saw, heard, and was asked at that meeting. He’d prefer SPLOST being spent first on sidewalks than on moving the library where people would have to go farther to get to it. Also, like many of us, he’s tired of a few people controlling the purse-strings without input from the rest of us. He gave an example:Continue reading
How we know it’s going to come up next November or at another time?
Here’s video of the discussion as it resumed later in the meeting:
SPLOST VII discussion at Monthly Meeting, South Georgia Library Board (SGLB),
Video by George Boston Rhynes for K.V.C.I. and bostongbr on YouTube,
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 20 November 2012.
Kay Harris said there had to be a minimum of twelve months, so November 2013 would be the next possible time. She said County Commissioner Richard Raines had expressed full support for the new library, and she was talking to the other commissioners. She was asked whether the SPLOST lists would be the same, and said there might be some changes, but she hadn’t heard anyone suggest that the Five Points property might be deleted. That’s curious, because she quoted Valdosta Mayor Gayle in the VDT 7 November 2012 as saying:Continue reading
It’s good to see that someone responsible for allocating millions of dollars of taxpayer money is willing to answer questions about related decisions, as Kay Harris is doing! It would be even better if there were a regular process by which the taxpaying and voting and library-using public could ask such questions and get answers.
If there were such a process, it’s pretty likely Ms. Harris or the Library Board or the County Commission would have been asked about the architect selection, considering I wasn’t even involved in that selection and my ear was scorched with complaints as soon as it was announced. Maybe Ms. Harris can suggest a way to produce such a process.
Let me take Ms. Harris’ points in order.
“First, they were the only one of the four finalists who did a full cost evaluation of the project, estimating $16 million while others were more than content to use the state’s estimate of $21 million.”
That’s very interesting news, which clarifies for me what she was getting at in the VDT writeup on that selection:Continue reading
I was never asked why we selected an out of town architect, but will happily answer that question now. First, they were the only one of the four finalists who did a full cost evaluation of the project, estimating $16 million while others were more than content to use the state's estimate of $21 million. Second, they brought to the project a consultant who is considered the country's leading library consultant; only one of the other four brought in an outside expert. Third, the principals of this firm live right over the county line in Florida—they are within the 50 mile radius that is considered "hiring local", so they are indeed a local firm. They also brought a local engineering firm, from Valdosta, to the table, and have agreed to hire as many subs from the local area as possible. So I truly don't understand the "jab" about hiring non-local… if it was that big a concern, why not just ask me the question? Mr. Quarterman wasn't even in the room at the time I spoke….
At Monday’s Lowndes County Democratic Party meeting, LCDP Chair Gretchen Quarterman introduced Kay Harris as chairman of the Library Board. You can see that board in action a few weeks ago in these previous videos.
Kay Harris said she was not there as editor of the newspaper, since as such she wouldn’t be allowed (presumably by the newspaper) at a partisan meeting. She was there as chair of the library board. She said this is her fifth year on that board, and her second year as chairman.
Here’s a video playlist.
She said the county put her on that board to move along the library project, which had been in process for some time. She said she had led negotiations with the City of Valdosta for the Five Points process. She mentioned the Five Points Steering Committee, of which she is also a member.
About the current library building and how the new one would be better, she said,Continue reading
The library board heard citizens at length about a problem that was apparently news to the board, later considered the problem at length, came up with an interim solution, and formed a committee to examine it longterm.
Citizen concerns about rules against after hours library use
Concerns were raised about hours at the southside library at the monthly meeting of the South Georgia Library Board, 18 September 2012. Apparently rules have recently been changed for all library branches so that meetings can no longer be held after library hours. This is a problem for volunteer groups composed of working people. It was unclear what the latest version of the rules is. And the library board appeared unfamiliar with the hours of its own libraries. However, they did at the end of their meeting extensively consider the issue and apparently come to an interim solution with a path to a more general solution.
The rules change may have been due to one incident at one branch (not the southside branch) for which the library board knew the sponsoring organization. Questions were raised as to why a blanket rules change ensued. One citizen pointed out that taxpayers pay for the library buildings so it’s not clear why they should be prevented from using them; school buildings, too. Another consideration was elderly parent care, because it’s hard to get help for that any time other than during the day. Kay Harris wanted to be sure everyone who wanted to speak had spoken. At least one citizen left a written statement for the record, which is always a good idea. Then all the citizens who had spoken left the meeting, apparently uninterested in anything else the library board was doing. Interestingly, a southside library support group was in one of the regular report items.
After the other citizens left, one of the library board (his nameplate said Ray Devery) asked whether Gretchen could stay. Kay Harris without hesitation said yes and moved on to approval of the minutes. Congratulations to Kay Harris on knowing the open meetings law and sticking to it! Speaking of the minutes, where are they so the taxpaying public can see them?
Regular businessRegular board business included circulation, story time, and carpet restoration.
Lanier County “volunteered” prison labor for library uses, a technology report (which included nothing about Internet access), finances revenues exceeded expenditures, yet the state cut more than $86,000, payroll, insurance webinar, and staff turnover.
There was a community relations development report, including festivals, kindle use, 751 total facebook likes and 200,000 reach.
Regarding the planned Five Points library, Kay Harris clarified that staff are not supposed to help promote that “in any way, shape, or form.” During paid hours. After hours is different.
Board discussion of after hours library use
A library board that is approving furlough days is not in a good position to extend library hours. Kay Harris proposed suspending the rules for southside library and revisiting the general rules at next month’s board meeting. They considered leaving after hours use decisions to local branches. They wanted to know how much after-hours use is there, anyway? They discussed fiduciary responsibility for library branches. They discussed lead time for approving new groups for after-hours use. As near as I can tell, they decided to suspend the current after-hours rules for southside library, have Kay Harris appoint a committee to look into the situation, and revisit the rules in general at their next meeting. I can’t tell when they actually voted on any of that. However, library director Kelly Lenz has confirmed by telephone that that’s what they decided.
Here’s a video playlist:
South Georgia Library Board
southside library hours,
Monthly Meeting, South Georgia Library Board (SGLB),
Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 18 September 2012.
Who’s whoContinue reading
In the same month, both the Lowndes County Democratic Party and the Valdosta Tea Party had speakers explaining how bad the charter school amendment is. Neither group took a vote, but it seemed pretty clear most of the attendees at both meetings were against that referendum on the November ballot, and mostly for the same reason: nobody wants an unelected state committee taking away local control and local tax revenue. Parental choice is one thing, and charter schools are another, but nobody seemed to like Atlanta taking away local control.
As the PAGE slides say,
This isn’t a Democrat vs. Republican debate. Legislators voted across party lines to put the constitutional amendment on the ballot. Republican and Democrat voters must defeat it together.
You can watch for yourself. Here are the two presentations:
- 10 September 2012: The charter school amendment is about control —Dr. Troy Davis
- 27 September 2012: A parallel state school system that we have no control over. —Christie Davis
If you don’t want Atlanta taking away our educational control and local tax dollars, vote No on the charter school amendment in November.
Lowndes County Schools Assistant Superintendent Troy Davis gave his personal opinion: “it’s about control”. The charter school amendment on the November ballot is not about charter schools, which any community in the state can create now. It’s about control by the state of local schools and resources.
Dr. Davis pointed out Georgia already has 350 charter schools, up from 160 three years ago. All but 19 were established and agreed upon by local communities. There’s a successful one in Berrien County, established by the Berrien County school board. The process to create more is in place in every community. If we wanted one in Lowndes County, all it would take would be for one of the two school systems (Lowndes or Valdosta) to approve one.
He suggested looking at the sources of funds for Families for Better Schools, which is backing the amendment. Top of the list is a Wal-Mart heir. (It’s Alice Walton. Dr. Davis deferred to Al Rowell for that information, and that’s also where I heard about Alice Walton. And as I discovered, the Walton Family Foundation put in much more than that last year.) He noted the bulk of the rest comes from for-profit school operators. (They include K12 Inc. of Virginia.)
He noted that the state of Georgia just passed this fiscal year the third largest budget in the history of Georgia, $19.1 billion. Yet the public schools have been cut $6.6 billion (apparently since 2002). And the Lowndes County school system lost nearly $8 million last year, and $43 million in the past 10 years. So he asked:Continue reading