The public process that I most recently participated in apparently was a sham, its’ outcome never in doubt, from the beginning. KCLS management clearly dictates to the board, only gives lip service to public “listening” processes and had no intention of truly engaging with the community’s desires or needs.
While I truly understand that not everyone gets all of what they want in any negotiation, I fail to understand the rational for spending three times the amount approved, removing assets we want/use and downgrading the facility in the name of improving/renewing it. I do not understand the justification for the unnecessary overspending of public funds, the complete lack of board discussion after public input or the disrespect shown by management to citizens’ input of carefully researched information and suggestions.
Management has failed to justify the singling out of the City of Mercer Island’s library as a poster child for their policy of “no exceptions, because we said so.” There are examples of every single thing we asked for elsewhere in recent KCLS remodels. In my last two presentations to the board, I pointed this out: we were not asking for anything special. Apparently, what we expected and failed to ask for, was respect. We certainly were not shown any.
I recognize that the board is filled with volunteers. However, they have a responsibility to the people they represent to actually provide oversight to the management, think about the material presented to them and work toward a joint decision about issues, not just rubberstamp what the staff presents to them. I am disappointed in the complete lack of concern or respect shown to the city of Mercer island’s citizens and City Council when they failed to even acknowledge the considerable input of information and ideas, much less actually consider their worth.
The complete failure of the public participation process to result in a meaningful solution, one that could be understood rationally and accepted, is disillusioning. Clearly what KCLS asks you to vote for is no indication of what you will get.
My hope is that the search committee will truly take this into consideration as they choose our new director. The King County community is desperate for a library leader who will actually listen to them, will remember and respect the community that uses the library as the customer and who pays the bills. They deserve to be heard.
As the search for the new director extends beyond the proposed deadline, it is imperative to the MI community to put KCLS plans in their current state of flux with no promises on hold until the new director is appointed. We should start over, with a system that works and meaningful communication between our community and King County.