On November 15th, the City Council of Keller, Texas, voted 4-1 in favor of a resolution of intent to issue $8.5 million in debt to finance a new library. Mayor Tandy and council members Trine, Badalamenti, Lake and Roberts claim that a new library enjoys overwhelming public support and that there is no need for another public election to decide the issue.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has used some unusually strong language in describing the Council’s unilateral action, such as “They absolutely have to be kidding” and “small town power politics at its ugliest.” A similar library proposal in 1999 was walloped by the voters — 62% to 38%.
But hey, what can you do? You can’t fight city hall, right? Wrong.
Section 7.02 of the City Charter allows for legislation by initiative. Because of low turnouts in Keller elections, we need only 250 signatures to force the Council to either adopt or submit to a vote our resolution, which reads:
Resolved, the City of Keller shall not construct nor remodel any public library, without first submitting the issue of whether to fund the building or remodeling of a public library at a particular site, to a vote of the qualified voters of the City of Keller.
Update 12/7: We’ve been canvassing for petitions, and the support for putting this issue to a vote is overwhelming. So far, perhaps 2% of folks support the Council’s actions, and another 2-5% just don’t care. All the rest are signing the petition. Please add your voice!
Update 12/8: This website, or perhaps ourkeller.com, was criticized for being “full of gross inaccuracies” in tomorrow’s edition of the Keller Citizen. I urge the supporters of the library to refute specifics, either with a comment here or publicaton on www.kellerfriends.org. (Note that item #6 on the new library FAQ states that there will be no tax increase for the library. This might have been true when the FAQ was written, but the proposed library will cause an increase in the tax rate.) I’ll be happy to correct any errors or link to any site. –Jim
Update 12/11:See comment #13 for response to above.
Kudos to Kroger on 1709 for agreeing to allow me to collect signatures, as long as I was respectful of their customers and did not impede business. Unfortunately after only twenty mintues of doing just that, someone complained to the manager and he apologized for asking me to leave. (Businesses avoid overt politics for a good reason–it’s often harmful and rarely helpful). Please consider Kroger’s attempt to be a good neighbor the next time you go grocery shopping.–Jim
Update 12/12: Hyperbolic Quote of the Day: “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.“ –Admiral Yamamoto in the movie Tora! Tora! Tora! (Probably not an accurate quote)