Seeking Common Sense
I sat in a borough council meeting last year when folks were urging council to do the right thing and reverse the decision to move the children’s library. At one point, some members of council – I specifically remember Tom Hufnagle, who did not run for re-election last year – saying that the borough didn’t want to be in the library business and wanted to get out of the library business.
This was the crux of last year’s debate. The library, particularly the debt from the renovations and expansion, served as a drag on the borough budget for a number of reasons. Riding into the picture in recent weeks was the York County Library System (YCLS), who promised to alleviate some of the pressure. The proposed three-year deal would cost nothing to the borough in the first year and focus on ways to “maximize cost savings, increase volunteers, review programs and services for efficiency and customer satisfaction, assess the improvement of technology and coordinate fundraising.”
The second and third years would include a $30,000 “management fee” each year, which seems like a bargain to me if they can put the library on a stronger path and provide hope for the future. Besides, there doesn’t seem to be anyone else waiting in the wings to take over this project and, as I pointed out, the borough wants to be out of the library business.
So why does there seem to be any question on this? Last night, Evening Sun reporter Laura Linhard who tweeted “Members of Borough Council remain unconvinced that the library agreement is worth it.” She quoted council member Kim Griffin as saying she would not vote for it, the same Kim Griffin who lectured me on Facebook about how the borough can’t take on any special events because they already have their hands full. Well, wouldn’t this help lighten that load some? The Library Board unanimously recommended this. What could be giving people second thoughts?
Thankfully, the fuller report this morning shows that council member Sonny Eline and borough manager Barb Krebs have a more open mind on this. That’s one sure sign of the apocalypse. I have ranted and raved less about the borough these past few months for a few reasons. Some of them I outlined in an earlier post, but it bogs down to my complete lack of faith that this group will do the right thing and my continued intention to rid my life of the things that cause me undue stress. I don’t want to be negative all the time, and that’s what the borough council and administration do to me.
But this can’t go unchallenged. Neither can the public hearing next week on the “nature trail.” They should have learned to listen to the public when they had to backtrack on the library decision and have seemingly re-trenched and become more obstinate.
The circle is drawing closer. Henry McLin stood up to the leadership and now has been stripped of his vice presidency and of his finance committee chairmanship even though he has extensive finance and budget experience. That’s the Gerken/Krebs way – isolate and diminish those who disagree. It isn’t unexpected, but it’s still disheartening that the finance committee no longer has the leadership of someone with budgetary acumen at a time when it is needed most. I love Jim Roth, the former Fire Commissioner turned council member who now heads the committee, but is it really prudent to appoint a recently retired borough employee to head the finance and personnel committee? Isn’t that a horrific conflict of interest?
I guess not, but it seems weird considering that Gerry Funke lost his planning committee chairmanship right around the same time he voted against John Gerken as council president. I have heard that the reason is that he shouldn’t be in that position since he is a principal with a local engineering firm, and that could be a conflict of interest. Now I worried about that kind of conflict when he came on council, but I have heard nothing but good things about how he has handled the situation. He has the expertise in the field, like Henry, yet is kicked to the curb? Makes no sense, especially since the borough is climbing into bed more and more often for engineering services with Gannett Flemming.
The comments of Krebs and Eline help me think that the library plan will move forward, but I don’t fully trust leadership. Experience is trumped by coziness. John Gerken laughably said he didn’t hold grudges when Funke voted against him, yet almost every single action taken by this council is grudge-driven (going back to the curious professional disappearance of the one employee who really challenged Barb Krebs for the job of borough manager). The county won’t solve all the problems, but this is one step. That step, however, involves giving up control, something this council and administration has seemed incapable of doing in the past.
So what do we want – chasing our tail and retaining control or letting someone who knows better step in and lend a hand?