Library Woes

First, it is a sad commentary when a county has been so poorly managed for decades that it finds itself in a fiscal crisis so bad that the arts and culture are targeted for massive cuts and obliteration. Shuttering opportunities for education and culture are exactly opposite what needs to be done, if one ones to create an environment that is amenable for economic growth.  When these sorts of options are considered, it means that the leadership has given up hope on the community.

We have a county college crying the blues that attendance is down, and going through motions pretending that they are seeking a fix. However, it is apparent that they are not truly seeking a fix, as they are raising tuition at the height of a recession. And we have a county library chiming in with harmony, claiming they are underfunded.

The library, this year, under threat of closure is seeking to incorporate the CLUES system with an online system currently in use by Gloucester and Salem counties. Now the budget shortfall is nothing new. It was slashed last year, and even if the library remains open, the budget will suffer yet another shortfall. So my question is this: why wasn’t the possibility of merging the online systems with Gloucester and Salem counties as a major cost-cutting move explored previously? Did the people that operate the library believe that they could bully the freeholders year after year to save their jobs?

Don’t get me wrong – I believe that shuttering any cultural institution sends the wrong message, especially in a county were it is critical that we attract entrepreneurs and new business. If the freeholders do not believe in this county, then it will be difficult to persuade new business to buy in.  But, the people that make the decisions at the library need to get their heads out of their collective bureaucratic butts and start thinking like business-people. The money is just not there, and if it comes to choosing between raising taxes AGAIN, or cutting corners here and there, the majority of county taxpayers will say cut back on spending.  Nobody wants to see their pet project cut, but that is no excuse for careless accounting and profligate spending simply because you think your department is a sacred cow. No cow is that sacred in a time of recession, when the county boasts the highest unemployment rates and poverty levels to match.

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4 Responses to Library Woes

  1. Calhoun says:

    Yeah, I guess the County Library staff could have been looking for more ways to cut costs. However, I think by focusing on these things, we are being pennywise but pound foolish.

    The fact remains that this County continues to dole out one open-ended contract after another to polticially-connected law firms and other businesses. These contracts far outstrip any savings the library staff may have realized by doing more with consolidation. The fact is the library pretty much has no money to buy books and is effectively treading water.

    Despite this disgraceful predicament, former congressman Bill Hughes, state senator Jeff Van Drew, and state senate president Stephen Sweeney were all in attendance at the 3 January re-organization meeting with big smiles on their faces as they made sure to swear their team (Austino, Musso, Surace, Whelan) into office.

    Van Drew and Sweeney spent hundreds of thousand of dollars campaigning in primaries in which they faced no opposition. Sweeney held onto a campaign account to re-elect him as a Gloucester County freeholder even though he pledged not to run again for freeholder, thus finally ending his long reign as a dual office holder. What did he spend his freeholder campaign loot on? Well, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported he used it buy fine cigars and meals at fancy restaurants.

    Read the article at http://election2010.illumen.org/latest-news/election-finance-reports-detail-n-j-senate-presidents-spending . When you’re done, you should be thoroughly outraged. If you’re not, then check yourself in to Ancora. The outrage should also extend to our media. Despite its damning article on Sweeney, the Inquirer still ended up endorsing him!

    My sympathies do not extend to CCC, however. Education, including higher education, suffers from an ever expanding “administrative class” that is choking the life out of it. Back in July of 2011 (“Beware of treachery of friends”), I commented on aspects of the contract for CCC president’s contract that were highly questionable. Our local school boards are no better as the county is rife with adminstrators making well over $100,000/year (Gruccio is one of them). Meanwhile, kids are being taught out of double-wide trailers and parents are asked to pony up for lots of things that the schools used to take care of.

    Get rid of half of these contracts the County doles out and half of these school adminstrators and the County could afford a library system that all of New Jersey would be envious of.

  2. baba says:

    How much is the non profit hospital pres being paid? google it.

  3. baba says:

    Seriously, do you know how much poor poor Cumberland County pays its out of county hospital CEO? Would you be surprised if it was 7 figures?

    Library?, we don’t need no stinkin library! We need more prisons.

  4. Calhoun says:

    I don’t believe SJH employees, including its CEO are County employees. While, excessive administration pay for non-profits is a significant issue, it is not a direct county government issue. Furthermore, health care non-profits are quite a different beast than most other non-profits.

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