Thursday, July 17, 2008

Literacy still important enough to strip from Jacksonville budget

Mayor Peyton's fountain pen is talking again. Whenever that happens, books for kids disappear.

Peyton's 'wartime' budget scrimps on library books
The Times-Union
July 17, 2008
In his budget message, Mayor John Peyton used the word "war" 13 times.

He made another nine references to "taking back" Jacksonville from criminals.

"There are good guys and there are bad guys," Peyton said. "Everyone has to choose a side."

Unfortunately, our commander in chief isn't willing to pay for the ammunition needed to make the fight.

If Peyton truly believes his oft-repeated statement that "we can't arrest our way of this problem" - that problem being that Duval County is the murder capital of Florida - then we must stop potentially good kids from becoming the bad guys.

One of the tools for doing that are our public libraries. Yet, the budget Peyton proposed to the City Council on Monday actually reduces spending on libraries over what Peyton proposed last year...

Peyton's budget for next year slashes that to $3.6 million, which is $1 million less than the library system had this year.

Peyton says that state grants will make up for the $1 million cut.

However, the budget he presented to the council isn't so clear on that point, saying the loss of $1 million "will be somewhat offset" by the state money.

Another politician's euphemism: "will be somewhat offset."

This is like your deadbeat cousin's promise that the I.O.U. "will be somewhat offset" by a big hot load of money on the way: the check's in the mail.

Final analysis requires the mayor to answer this question: How does it improve the city that your public libraries are books-free zones, just so that the honorable mayor can have a new hybrid SUV to save money with?