Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dead On Arrival: The Library Master Plan (revised)



What started out as beauty, has been transformed into the beast. For today, five of the seven Fulton County Commissioners, decided that their own personal interests were more important than the publics' collective best interest. With the end result being that from the original Library Master Plan's budget, $34M dollars has been siphoned off, to this $50M has been added for some down the road (pie in the sky) pork barrel 'trophy library' project. Of course we were assured that this would be in the people's best interest, yet by judging the crowd at today's meeting, the commissioners (save Riley and Eaves) were the only ones who seemed convinced of that.

The rest of us weren't buying it.

Not only that, why attempt to force something onto the public that they don't want. Meaning that not a single person who attended the meeting asked for a new downtown library. We like the one we already got and fixing it up will only cost us $34M...$34M which has now been stripped away.

Now again, this $34M was the money that was supposed to refurbish the existing Central Branch Library, a noteworthy building that was designed by legendary Bauhaus architect, Marcel Breuer. But now that money is gone. And as if it were not enough to toss the Central Branch Library down a memory hole of abysmal neglect, the commissioners then decided to go back and double dip in the public treasury to add another $50M to this Faustian deal, sitting a total of $84M aside (supposedly with good intent) yet bloating the Library Master Plan's total budget by almost 25% bringing the grand total to $275M.

So let's see, we GET LESS but PAY MORE...with the promise of something (maybe?) down the road.


Needless to say, by the time all this ridiculousness rolled around, the entire room began to reak of bacon and fatback.

And if you're reading this wondering, why? What? This doesn't make good sense. Well, join the club. Because if ever there were a textbook example of over-indulgent, self-congratulatory, pork barrel spending, disguised as loyal, public service...then this is it!

The people didn't ask for this. For as it is, we are already struggling to maintain what we've already got. Thus, we do not want any additional, unnecessary debts. We already have buildings that need taking care of and the commissioners themselves have publicly admitted several times that everybody was happy with the original plan and that the people were overwhelmingly against any additional new debt that went beyond any monies already decided upon. And yet, somehow or another, we got screwed.

We demanded satisfaction, but instead we were treated to a dog and pony show to the tune of $84M. Because, neither do we get a refurbish central branch nor do we get a new central branch. Basically, all we get is a promise. And while we are all looking the other way waiting for our "cross my heart, hope to die" promise to be fulfilled in the form of a glorious new central library...who will be watching the $84M? Because with the price of the average new "centerpiece" city library costing near $300M, exactly how, how long and what will getting that kind of money actually involve.

Hello? The economy? The falling dollar? The collapsing banking system?

Hence in the end, there is only one way to explain why we got what THEY wanted instead of what WE wanted.

Hubris and Pork.

But perhaps by the time the referendum reaches the ballot box (general election) in November 2008, this nefarious, money-siphoning plan will brought to the light of day and the people (we, all of us) will reject it hands down.

It's the only sensible thing to do.

But, until then...we're stuck with hubris and pork.