The Renton Reporter posted an editorial today in favor of the Piazza library location. There are four specific reasons for disregarding this editorial:
Reason number 1– The editor opens the editorial by showing he is out of step with the Council, the Mayor, and the citizens on this topic
The editor begins his editorial by saying that he personally would not have let the library location go to a vote. In this regard, he disagrees with all seven Renton council members and the Mayor of Renton, who felt that the public should be heard on this issue when we placed the issue on the ballot two months ago. The Renton Reporter editor also disagrees with the 15 % of registered Renton voters who signed a petition asking for a vote. This seems quite out of step with the desires of the community.
Reason number 2– The editor’s track record for accurate library information is not good
The editor claims voters knew, or should have known, they were voting for two new libraries when they voted to annex to KCLS. His statements include “From the beginning it’s been clear that in all formal documents Renton’s elected leaders agreed to build two new libraries.” and “.. it was clearly spelled out that the city would build two replacement libraries for KCLS if annexation should occur.” and “It was also clear (in the 2010 voters’ pamphlet and elsewhere) at the time of the vote that annexation would mean the city would have to build two new libraries for KCLS. “
But two years ago before the KCLS election, the Renton Reporter never informed voters that a vote for KCLS was a vote for closing Cedar River library. In the Renton Reporter editorial of January 27, 2010 a week prior to the KCLS annexation, Dean Radford wrote: “Renton residents will have some local control over whether the city builds a new library, perhaps in the Highlands, if and when a levy to do so is placed on the ballot. That’s a glimmer of local control, although the building would belong to KCLS.” Beyond this editorial, there were four special reports on the KCLS annexation issue; in these reports, the Renton Reporter never once mentioned that the Cedar River Library would be subject to closure with annexation to KCLS. Yet this possibility of closure is obviously an issue of paramount importance to thousands of trusting citizens. (See more on this issue by clicking here) One must conclude that either the editor did not know all the facts when he wrote his editorial of January 27, 2010, or else he was trying to mislead the public. I like Mr. Radford, so I want to believe it was a misunderstanding on his part, but voters need to keep that in mind as they review today’s library editorial.
Reason number 3– The editor cites the lack of clarity in this election, but goes on to support the people who brought us the lack of clarity
In today’s editorial Mr. Radford says, “Unfortunately, what’s really missing today is clarity, especially about the cost to renovate the library over the Cedar.” Of course we lack clarity because (A) there was a deliberate push by the Piazza library supporter to force this library choice too fast, when the plans including re-purposing were far from complete; and (B)the Renton Reporter has swallowed a rushed, secret KCLS study with blatant errors, including double-dipping on contingencies, incorrect mitigation fees, wrong assumptions, and other problems. I agree that this is “Unfortunate,” but throwing support to the people that created this lack of clarity is foolish, especially when they have been found responsible for similar misinformation before.
Reason number 4– The editor uses a circular argument to try to dismiss re-purposing costs, a dis-service to taxpayers
The editor’s words speak for themselves here. Read them carefully. He says; “Don’t be misled by assertions that it will cost the city $10 million (or more) to upgrade it for another use. That’s only true for a state-of-the-art library. The city could continue using the building right away, with no renovation. When the time is right, it could seek the dollars needed to upgrade for a specific use, just like any other city-owned building.” Okay. So Mr. Radford is saying we can continue to use the building as is (as a library?), and we won’t have to pay the millions more until we want to upgrade if for another specific use (like an environmental center). He is agreeing with the exact assertion he is trying to dismiss. It would be laughable except that taxpayers will be on the hook for this future re-purposing expense and they may not know it. They will also be on the hook for annual operating costs for another facility, and there is no budget for this.