Tuesday, June 12, 2012

woe betide us?

Word on the street is that the public library is closing for good on August 15, with all the employees -- every last one of 'em -- pink-slipped. Can anyone confirm or deny this (preferably the latter)?

All I can think of is that this is some kind of ploy to get the citizenry to accept the outsourcing of everything to the county, but as far as I'm concerned, outsourcing is part of what got us into this financial swamp to begin with.

The one thing I know for sure is the old adage: Closing libraries in a time of plummeting test scores (to say nothing of gang activity) is like closing hospitals during an epidemic.

The image is from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Children's Room website -- soon to be gone, but never forgotten.


calwatch said...

Not sure where this rumor is coming from but it seems false on its surface. The proposed FY 2012-13 budget allocates $1.59 million to the library, same as present. Not any more but not any less either. Council got presented this budget numerous times. Go under finance on the city's web site and see for yourself.

meg said...

Well, Dave Allen just tweeted it, so it must be true! Just kidding, but he's a real live journalist, whereas I'm just a neighborhood gossip -- and one that's not even in the neighborhood.

As I said, surely it's some kind of brinksmanship? (She says hopefully, with quavering voice.)

calwatch said...

By union contract there is a 45 day notice required before any layoff. http://www.sbpea.com/ContractDocs/MOU_Pomona_CEA_2010-2011.pdf Obviously the negotiations with County fire didn't go well. Apparently no one decided to solicit bids from any of the neighboring fire providers.

But basically I think this is a lot of Kabuki theater again, with hundreds of angry residents storming Council on Monday to protest and filibuster the budget public hearing, and the city councilmembers getting to look good by "saving" the library. The city manager tried to cut Fire by $1.6 million, which conveniently is how much the library costs to run. I'll have a better handle on this Thursday afternoon when they post the staff report with the revised budget.

The odds of the library closing are not zero but they are small. The national attention to the city, just like with Salinas in 2005, would irreparably damage any attempts at redevelopment (remember, they still have to get other national retailers into the new Target Center at the old auto mall). You'd have all these national newspapers tsk-tsking plus lots of local media attention. This is not something the city wants to get involved in. It's better to have a temporary storm blow through rather than an article every week in some national magazine about it.

Library supporter said...

The pink slips ALL the employees received on Tuesday were real. Layoff notices are not given for the sake of theatrics.

imagesofpomonabyren.blogspot.com said...

Ms Lois is saying that they are getting layed off on fb, this is a sad day for Pomona.

meg said...

Even if this is all theatrics, meant to bust the chops of the firefighters, I am disappointed in the city. And at this point I don't think it's just city council; I think the administrative leadership has promoted this cynical manipulative style of management.

Outsourcing fire protection to the county was a horrible mistake that they apparently just can't dig themselves out of. Let it be a lesson to surrounding towns.

And in the meantime, ejection seats for everyone in the top two layers of the city org chart!*

*I'm not sure I would stick to that exact formulation after studying the org chart, but it's my first instinct. Certainly the administration as well as the council needs a good shake-up, to stop this shake-down.

meg said...

To follow up on what Ren said, Lois has posted a copy of the layoff notice (with reference to the 45 days required by law) on her Facebook wall, for those of you on FB and FBFs with Lois.

Anonymous said...

It is true. As well as the 13 layoff notices given to the city Parks and Recreation staff. Apparently the city lost a law suit they were hoping to receive money from. That and the fact that the counsel is working with county fire to not take consessions. While every work group in the city has sacrificed for years. More civilian positions are leaving. Ugh!! Help us. Our city is run by self serving idiots! I'd bet mayor moochie is covering up some scandal. There needs to be an investigation.

calwatch said...

Actually if you've been in government long enough layoff notices are often given as a result of theatrics. Every year school districts issue hundreds of pink slips by union rule. Costa Mesa did this a few years ago as a bargaining chip but ultimately kept the majority of employees on. Not great for those affected, but they will
collect their 79 weeks of unemployment. The other thing is this is leverage to get people to support a tax increase. I can assure you though that if this budget passes I will vote against the future tax measures proposed in November.

Anonymous said...

Theatrics is what city management may be relying on, but regardless where will the city come up with the funding to pay for LSSI or county to come in and run the library? Once the library closes, it will be difficult for the city to re-open it until additional funding can be found (and that's not to say that a tax measure is the next step in the solution, although in other city's whose libraries are open, it does help.)

calwatch said...

I'm reading into Alhambra vs State Board of Equalizatiom further and it appears that the city either got bad legal
advice, or bad financial management. Have to paw through more budgets to see further.

meg said...

Thanks, Calwatch -- I know we're all eager to hear more. Feel free to post separately, if the urge strikes you.

John Clifford said...

It has been noted in the past that we get the kind of city that we're willing to accept. This is a definite turning point. If we allow the library, one of the oldest institutions in the city, to fall, what does that say about what we're willing to accept as a city.

I've been a tremendous booster of our city. I've seen a vibrant downtown make a comeback, I've seen dedicated volunteers and citizens do amazing things. I've been privileged to be a part of many of these wonders. But now I'm starting to wonder if Pomona's time is now up. I thought that at my age I had found my final home. Now I feel as if it might be time to figure out what the next move will be.

I HATE that I feel this way. I'd love to be able to fight and win to make Pomona the kind of place that future generations will wish to come to and build upon. But the complete lack of leadership in our city is appalling. Just as there is an unwillingness on the National level to build ourselves up, we're all racing to the bottom.

Please someone, show me that I'm wrong and that there is some hope.

I'm sure I'll have more to say once the disgust has finished washing over me and I can come to terms with this.

Esse said...

Pomona...what John Clifford said. Yep. I think my house just decreased in value another 50k if indeed it is true that the library will be closed. Certainly the quality of life in this old funky town will plummet. Again.

calwatch said...

Would bankruptcy or disincorporation be a more honorable option? Look you can vote and recall the bums out, BUT the past decisions have been made and there is no time machine. The advantage of bankruptcy would be to restructure all contracts, but the city could never borrow funds at a reasonable rate again. Vallejo kept their library in bankruptcy but the police department was gutted.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know when this is going to Council for approval? Or has this already been approved?

Anonymous said...

I can just tell you this. As a police officer in this city, know that we all work very hard for you to keep you all safe. We are a damn good department. The sworn officers and civilian staff love the good people if this city and we have made consessions for years to try and keep it afloat. Not to say anything bad about the fire department, they are good workers too. However the city counsel has been bought by their union and they refuse to make them make any cuts. No public safety personnel should be cut if necessary. We truly believe that the library should stay as well. We need it for the youth of the community. We all need to band together. Including fire personnel. The bad part is that this city is run by self serving politicians who just want to be re-elected to office. All work groups including sworn police and civilians have accepted paycuts and furloughs for years. We have all done this knowing it is necessary to help the city. Police officers are down 30%. We don't even work full time, (70 hours a pay period). But we have accepted this due to the economy. Not any fault of the fire department, but their budget has increased by hundreds of thousands of dollars every year since the recession started. This is not a rant to bash fire. They must look out for their people. I understand that. But rather a rant to explain that the city counsel would rather cut EVERYONE and every other part of this great city to save their butts from being targeted by those who help finance their campaigns. Your police and civilian personnel, from the trash men to mechanics to city workers will continue to help save this beautiful city. But know that the politicians just want to be re-elected. Always here for you!
-A friendly cop.

calwatch said...

Budget public hearing is on Monday night. Usually one of the last items, so be prepared to hang around past midnight. They did give "direction" on the lawsuit (Palmdale v. State Board of Equalization, et al) but "no final action was taken" per city attorney report. Google that to read the decision that cost the City millions.

John Clifford said...

While I also don't want to bash fire, the truth is that the city has NO control over the fire costs. With our own police department, we negotiate with the employees, we determine the service levels, we determine how services are allocated, etc.

Because we contract with LA County for fire, we get what they will provide. We, as a city don't negotiate salaries, that's done between the department and the county for the entire county. If the FD needs new equipment, it is determined on a county-wide consideration, not how it will impact costs in our city to maintain the same service level. This is why it is so important to maintain local control over our services. This is why we really don't want to outsource any more than we absolutely have to because we become captive to our suppliers.

With PD we've been able to get concessions and have worked with the department to cut costs. With fire the county makes all those calls and then the large fire fighters association has funding to influence elections and make sure that we don't cut our contract.

As Calwatch said, we don't have a time machine, but if we still had our own FD we might be able to shave some costs.

ipjd2000 said...

I have reviewed the expected budget revenues for 2012-2013 (found here http://www.ci.pomona.ca.us/mm/finance/budg/2012-2013/4_Revenues.pdf) as well as the expenditures for each department (found here http://www.ci.pomona.ca.us/mm/finance/budg/2011-2012/OPERATING/7_General_Fund_Depts.pdf). The expected revenues for 2012-13 are expected to be $182 Million, an almost 6% drop from 2011-12 (pretty significant and difficult to miss).
From these budget documents, it is clear that most City departments have been gutted and are operating with minimal budgets.
The largest two departments by budget (Police $35 Mil. and Fire $22 Mil.) are the only place from which the Library can be funded. As has been noted before, the City has no control over the Fire Dept. budget, so that leaves the Police Dept. as the only place to cut.
However, I must say that the 6% drop in revenues is really the issue, this should have been foreseen/projected by the City manager before now. The loss of funds from the State Equalization Board lawsuit/settlement was not the reason the City is short on funds, it was simply bad/negligent revenue projections.
That said, there does seem to be just enough programs in the Police Dept. budget to come up with the shortfall to fund the Library.