Saturday, February 16, 2013
Two recent letters to the editor from Rural Library District staff members have criticized an article and an editorial concerning the library district. The facts are different from the assertions in those letters.
RLD Director Aletha Bonebrake took issue with the Feb. 3 news article that reported the state Auditor’s Office had found the RLD board failed in two instances to comply with open meeting laws. Ms. Bonebrake stated a recent audit report had found, contrary to what was reported in the article, that the district had complied with state laws and regulations.
Ms. Bonebrake did not include in her U-B letter the fact the audit report covered only the period between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011, while the violations took place in the latter half of 2012 and were not covered by the audit.
The U-B article accurately reported the auditor’s conclusion the RLD violated state law was contained in a written response to a complaint filed by the Library Users Coalition. The Auditor’s Office also communicated its conclusions to the RLD and recommended that the district ensure it takes action in open public meetings.
Amy Rosenberg, the supervisor of the RLD’s Prescott library, repeated in her letter in more colorful language the same erroneous information about the prior year’s audit. She also criticized the editorial, which called for openness from the RLD Board and a town hall meeting to discuss the future of libraries in the Valley, in spite of the fact that she herself called for “open, honest dialogue about this issue ... and about the future of libraries as a whole.”
We could begin that process with a poll or a meeting of all urban area RLD residents, who constitute a majority of the district’s taxpayers and pay a majority of its taxes. The RLD Board could ask its own taxpayers in the urban area how they wish to receive library services — by a renewal of the RLD contract with the Walla Walla Public Library, consolidation of the two systems through annexation or continuation of the RLD plan to construct a duplicate central library in the urban area at a cost of over $3 million and improvements to its other rural branches, to be partially financed with a $2.5 million loan to be paid for by RLD taxpayers over the next several decades.