Librarians Unite!

Shhhh!!

No talking and listen to what the folks at the Toronto Public Library Board are saying.

“The Toronto Public Library Board adopted a 2010 budget request this week that seeks a 3.3-per-cent or $5.51-million increase over last year…”

Clearly no one from the TPL has taken their nose out of their book and realized it’s November 2010 not 2003-2009. There’s a new sheriff in town, poindexters. Budgetary increases?! Are you kidding me?

Austerity’s the new black, people. 47% of Toronto voters have spoken, so there will be no compromising, no consensus building, no back talk. And absolutely no increases to budgets whatsoever. Unless it’s for the TPS, of course.

So go back to the drawing board and don’t return until you’re ready to talk cuts. To the budget, that is, not services. There can’t be any cuts to services because a guarantee was made. Just decreases to the budget. How?! I don’t know. We’re idea guys. You’re the ones with all the books and learning materials. You figure it out.

So while everyone else waits, slightly fearful, watching from the sidelines as the Ford storm front masses and creeps in ever closer from the horizon, the plucky folks at the TPL have stepped up and basically said, Oh yeah? Well, fuck you. The Globe’s Kelly Grant suggests that it isn’t an “aggressive” budget ask but I believe its symbolic statement is substantial.

With the public announcements of committee chairs made this week, it’s obvious that mayor-elect Ford isn’t prepared to make nice with anyone who doesn’t share his blinkered view on the role of government. His executive committee is stacked to the rafters with right wingers and as Grant wrote earlier this week in another piece the agenda for his first ‘working’ council meeting as mayor on December 16th will be packed with proposed tax cuts (let’s start calling them ‘government revenue cuts’) and cuts to councillors’ office budgets. A juicy shock and awe display of neo-conservative belief that’ll have the likes of the Toronto Sun’s Sue-Ann Levy drooling in imbecilic delight.

Which is why watching the TPL getting out in front of it is so edifying. Simply because Rob Ford thinks he has a massive mandate or (weirdly, according to Grant) “moral authority” doesn’t mean those in opposition have to bow down meekly before it. The proposed TPL 3.3% budget increase appears to be quite modest, made up of only “inflation and contractual salary and benefit increases” with no new hiring or spending but no cuts in services either. That’s the key.

Rob Ford pledged – no, guaranteed – he’d tame the perceived out-of-control spending without cutting any services. The board of the Toronto Public Library has stepped forward and lobbed out the first pitch. We all should take careful note how the incoming administration swings away. It’ll be instructive and reveal the plans they have for running the city.

The stuff you can learn from your local public libraries, eh?

bookishly submitted by Cityslikr