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Library effort raises $50,000, kicks off informational campaign

Original post made on Jun 27, 2008

With orange balloons and orange juice, the campaign to renew Palo Alto's libraries -- with a bond measure -- kicked off officially Friday morning outside the Mitchell Park Library.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, June 27, 2008, 4:57 PM

Comments (124)

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Posted by Jen
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 27, 2008 at 5:35 pm

Good schools and libraries add value and are an asset to any community. I'm a big supporter to renew Palo Alto's libraries!


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 27, 2008 at 7:08 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 27, 2008 at 8:08 pm

It will be interesting to see where this money comes from. From tracing the money from the last few ballot initiatives--it has come from Roxey Rapp and Chop Kennan, and a few other developers and real estate people.

Palo Altans deserve better than what a small number of property developers have decided for them. Sadly, the local papers won't dig into the backers of these campaigns.

The Sharon Erikson Audit was a sham. Her work on the library should be ignored.



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Posted by More-Bad-Ideas
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 27, 2008 at 8:37 pm

Beecham, not happy with his "vision" of swapping bay shore property with his friends, the automobile dealers, is back in public again--pushing another bad, bad idea.

Spending this much money for kids to play games on computers is crazy!

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 27, 2008 at 8:39 pm

Joe,

What is your basis for asserting the work done by the auditor was a sham?

Are you basing your point of view on the merits of this library initiative on what you view as improper audit methodology, the unfounded allegation you make on who has contributed to the campaign thus far, the reporting work that the newspapers may or may not do on this matter?

What do Palo Altans deserve? Getting to the heart of the matter, improved libraries and a community center that are showing their 50+ years of age and use is one possibility, should they choose to have their money applied to such an endeavor.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 27, 2008 at 9:18 pm

> What is your basis for asserting the work done by
> the auditor was a sham?

Just reading it.

The Auditor makes no effort to explain the methodology, or demonstrate that any of her assessments are typical of "operational audits"--which have nothing to do with facilities.

The real problem is that she did not make any effort to find out why the facilities are in the shape that they are in. For instance, she did not make any effort to determine how many work orders had been placed over the years--or how long it takes for work orders to get done.

An example of facilities mis-management occurred in the Children's library. The Director stood in the Council Chambers and told the Council (proudly) that the Facilities people had not fixed a hole in the roof--so that the rain would come in through the hole. The idea was to put pressure on the "voters" to pass a bond to build a new building.

It would not be hard to demonstrate other examples. The people in the libraries don't/won't take care of the facilities in which they work.


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Posted by The Real Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 27, 2008 at 10:05 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Give us good information
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 28, 2008 at 7:47 am

Joe of Barron Park is way off base in his comment on the city auditor's report and his mini-rant about work orders just doesn't make sense. Anyone who wonders about the auditor's report should read it. The auditor, Sharon Erickson, is widely respected and has since been selected to be San Jose's auditor.

Here's what she said in the report: "During the course of our review we visited 10 nearby libraries. None of the libraries we visited was in as poor a condition as Palo Alto's libraries". That's pretty clear. You can see the full report here: Web Link and decide for yourself.


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Posted by palo alto parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 28, 2008 at 8:41 am

No one disputes that our libraries are in disrepair.

Many dispute whether we need College Terrace and Downtown at all.


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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 28, 2008 at 9:48 am

For the record, College Terrace is not part of this funding intiative. Downtown North is a part of it, although of the four elements--Mitchell, Main, Mitchell Community Center, and Downtown North, the latter is less than 10% of the expenditures.

Opinions vary about branches, but it is important that people understand what is and is not included on this proposal, and voters should not be confused about where the money is targeted to go.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2008 at 9:52 am

Where we actually live may make a difference to what we think. When I moved into my area of Palo Alto, half way between Mitchell and Main, I never looked into the library system as a reason for choosing my home. If I had happened to live right next door to College or Downtown (as Mike presumably does) I might feel differently. As it is, I choose either Mitchell or Main depending on where I am going on that particular day to drop off books, but usually pick them up at Mitchell so I can say I frequent that one more often, but do frequent both. If I lived very close to say Collete Terrace I would probably be more enthusiastic as to keeping that branch. But, I value the service of the library more than the locale and I want my service improved. Therefore, I think getting the improvements done at any cost is what the majority of library users will vote in the end. It is not going to be a vote supporting the value of all branches, just a vote to get things moving for a change.


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Posted by Vote No
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2008 at 11:12 am

Sorry I can't vote for this wasteful bond measure until our City demonstrates some economies in library facilities. I'm a supporter of two good libraries i.e. Main and Mitchell. Downtown and College should be closed as libraries.


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Posted by Agree, Vote no
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 28, 2008 at 1:30 pm

Many of us support the libraries. But we'll never have the kind of library service, collection, and facilities others do so long as we have to fund operations at 5 branches. Paul points out that the bond proposal doesn't fund College Terrace investment, though it does fund improvements at the Downtown branch. While true, this is a red herring - we will still pay operating expenses to keep a part of our collection and staff at CT. And beside, putting any money in Downtown (5% of circulation folks!) is clearly not the right thing to do.

It's a shame to have to vote no, but keeping the smaller branches, even investing in them, is not the way forward for Palo Alto - it's an investment in an outdated system. Vote no, and let's get a bond that makes sense.


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Posted by Debbie
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 28, 2008 at 1:45 pm

The reason no improvements to College Terrace Library are included in this bond measure is because our City Council voted them $4 Million from this years budget to make improvements to the facility. In my opinion this is a waste of money as is including the Downtown Library in the bond measure.

Vote "NO" to wasteful branch library improvements.


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Posted by lots of questions
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 29, 2008 at 9:05 am

Can we get full disclosure on how much the libraries are costing us? Why are the main libraries subject to the vagaries of a bond measure while the branch libraries are getting upgraded from the general fund? How much IS being spent on all the branch libraries from the general fund? What is the annual budget and how does this all compare with similar districts? Are these questions answered in the informational campaign?


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Posted by Kathy Miller
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 29, 2008 at 10:19 am

We can't afford to vote "no" on this bond. A "no" vote would mean that Palo Alto will have the current library buildings for the foreseeable future. And the current buildings are simply unacceptable. I'm not just talking about the fact that they are dark and crowded. I'm talking about the collection: We can't add to the collection because there is not enough space.

The current plan to replace Mitchell Park Library/Community Center; renovate and add space to Main; and renovate the Downtown branch, has been developed over the last few years with plenty of community input. It is is the right plan at the right time. It has the support of the Library Advisory Commission, the Friends of the Palo Alto Library, and the Palo Alto Library Foundation. Unity among the library advocacy groups in this City has not always been possible. Let's take this bond measure and make it happen for our community.


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Posted by Uh Oh, Watch Out
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 29, 2008 at 10:32 am

When someone says "we can't afford to vote no" - check your wallet.

The above poster seems to mean that the special interests were bought off - CT and DT branch supporters - who said they would organize a no vote unless their branches were maintained and improved. That's EXACTLY what we should not do. That's just plain bad policy.

When they serve up the wrong plan, the ONLY thing is to vote no. That will stiffen resolve to come up with the right plan. If we vote yes on this plan, we will be stuck with our inefficient and costly minor branches, and will never have the kind of libraries we really want - excellent collections, hours, and facilities. Sorry, I love the libraries too, but this plan is too much to swallow. Let's do it right, or just wait and not do it now.


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Posted by Downtown supporter
a resident of University South
on Jun 29, 2008 at 11:06 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Library User
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2008 at 11:16 am

I don't use all the branches. I used to use Main and Childrens a lot when my kids were small. Now we all tend to use Mitchell.

I am not an advocate of branches. I want a fully up to date library, and I don't really mind where it is. My kids are teens now and I want them to know what to expect in a library and be used to using a good library while they are still young enough and under my influence to establish good habits. I hate it when they go and buy a book at Borders, read it once then, it gets pushed to the back of a closet and never touched again until such time as they clean out the closet and either throw out the book or take it to Goodwill. I would much rather they value their money and value their libraries.

For this reason I don't want the library bond to fail. I remember several years ago when we thought there was a chance of getting Mitchell refurbished, but it failed and we still have the sham of a library service there. If this fails, who knows how long before another library bond gets planned and then we may still have people who don't like it and once again it will fail and the cycle will continue.

As I said. I don't like the branches because I never use them. I do use one library and will continue to do so. We need our library updated now, not some vague time in the future.

Please remember our young people, all of you out there voting no. I realise and appreciate your concern, but we can't afford the luxury of waiting again.


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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 29, 2008 at 11:45 am

Full disclosure: I am in support of this bond, and am a member of the group that is campaigning in support of it.

In case some of you did not see it in the article that leads this topic, the group has created a web site:

Web site with a Frequently Asked Questions section at: www.betterlibrariesforpaloalto.com


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Posted by Uh Oh, Watch Out
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 29, 2008 at 11:57 am

Downtown Supporter, if the city said they were closing the downtown branch and the bond would just go toward Mitchell and Main, would you be voting yes on the bond?


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Posted by Downtown supporter
a resident of University South
on Jun 29, 2008 at 12:12 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Uh Oh, Watch Out
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 29, 2008 at 12:14 pm

Well, I guess that's what we are trying to determine. If the city said they were closing the downtown branch and the bond would just go toward Mitchell and Main, would you be voting yes on the bond?


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Posted by No on the library bond
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 29, 2008 at 12:55 pm

AREN'T WE JUMPING THE GUN A LITTLE? The city council has not yet decided to place the bond on the november ballot.


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Posted by Observor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2008 at 3:05 pm

If newer and bigger libraries are built we need to know who is going to staff them and how they are going to be paid, and we need to know who is going to be using the libraries.

Here is a fair use quote from a recent letter to the Palo Alto Daily News:

"As it stands now, our tax dollars are spent to appease those who are content to make whatever noise is appropriate for them, without consideration of others."

The full letter comparing the Burlingame and Millbrae libraries is at: Web Link

The proposed expansion of the Downtown Library will have a smaller collection than that branch has now, but the current collection is being systematically reduced, so maybe it will be as small as the proposed collection by the time of the bond election (just look at the plans and count the stacks).

The Main Library reference and archival collections have been reduced under the current Libary Director.

However, the "library" does meet the needs of those who want the current best seller without going to Borders, or who want a DVD without going to Netflix.

The "library" also serves the needs of those who want a virtual office and come to use the wireless Internet connection and make phone calls.

The Main Library with its expanded children's section and large number of Internet computers is also convenient for parents and nannies who want other patrons to baby-sit their children while the parents and nannies look for adult materials. (The Children's Library is only four blocks away.)

The term "library" is needed to get the votes of those who support what a library in Palo Alto used to be, not what it has become and is becoming.

A lot of money was spent for the expanded Children's Library and will be spent for the College Terrace branch.

Those two branches are the ones with the highest percentage of users with Stanford residence addresses.

Very few Stanford faculty and students who live on campus go to Main, Downtown, and Mitchell, but a lot go to Children's and College Terrace.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2008 at 3:33 pm

a great example of getting a survey to say what you want it to say.

Web Link


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Posted by Ray Bacchetti
a resident of University South
on Jun 29, 2008 at 9:27 pm

The Web site developed by the library supporters (www/betterlibrariesforpaloalto.com) gives a clear and solid look at the kind of public asset a successful bond vote will make possible. There are powerful functional arguments for what is proposed. I'd like to add a civic pride argument. We ought to be right up there with our neighboring communities when it comes to the quality, look, and capacity of the community resources we all share.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 29, 2008 at 11:37 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 30, 2008 at 9:16 am

Mike

Did you look at the link about getting surveys to say what you want them to say?


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 30, 2008 at 9:54 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 30, 2008 at 10:18 am

"Mike," can you please explain how Certificates of Participation work? How are they priced? Do they vary by service? E.g., Cert. A let's you check out books, Cert. B lets you use the libraries' computers, Cert. C lets you use their after-school children's care. Etc. Is this what you mean? And if you have no Certificate, you can no longer use the library system???
Can you please explain?


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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 30, 2008 at 11:20 am

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

I don't know if CT and DT branch supporters are organized, but one council member told me, "If College Terrace and Downtown branches were closed, the bond wouldn't pass."

Re Observor's comments about Stanford faculty and students: 5% of the respondents to the 2006 library survey were Stanford students.


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Posted by Pam
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 30, 2008 at 12:19 pm

Certificates of Participation are a financing device that cities in California can use to fund projects without going to voters for approval. Palo Alto recently announced that it was going to use COP's to fund a new police building. This decision is widely regarded as an acknowledgment that the police station bonds would never pass if put to a vote of the residents.

Mike of College Terrace apparently believes that this runaround of the democratic process is appropriate for the library bond. It apparently also indicates a lack of confidence that the library bond will survive a vote of the people.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 30, 2008 at 12:26 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by surveys
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 30, 2008 at 12:49 pm

Downtown supporter, try reading the results of the last library survey - Web Link

Specifically, "Voters are less enthusiastic about a measure that does not include funding for multiple branches".

Now look at which project is targeted first in the event a bond passes. Then consider the $4mil already being given to upgrade CT. That's right, $4mil to little used CT while Mitchell languishes.


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Posted by Mike, the one and only
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 30, 2008 at 2:04 pm

surveys ""Then consider the $4mil already being given to upgrade CT.'

That's a capital improvement that had been set aside and scheduled for YEARS, prior. Also, th spend is for the *entire* structure, not just the library. There is a large community PACCC day care center in that building too. Please get your facts straight.

There is no air conditioning in that structure. So now we have library naysayers arguing that little children should be permitted to swelter in 90+ heat, just to please their obsessive fiscal ways.

btw, the last two "Mike" posts are not from me, but I agree with everything they say.

Barry Goldwater, the last true conservative, would turn over in his grave at the shenanigans that passes for fiscal responsibility these days. We have a tiny minority of citizens who have gotten way too much exposure to our community [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by surveys
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 30, 2008 at 3:05 pm

We're on the same page, Mike. $4mil for CT when Mitchell gets NOTHING from the general fund. We have to go cap in hand before one of the most used libraries gets any funding. How is this possible? Who's setting the priorities here? Why did CT get this funding when Mitchell is in such dire need?


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Posted by Mike, the one and only
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 30, 2008 at 3:49 pm

Mitchell needs more than $4M. You know that. CT is falling apart at the seems; you know that, too. The MAJORITY of our community wants a GREAT branch system, and we're going to get it, no matter how much you whine about it.


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Posted by Maintenance not done
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 30, 2008 at 3:55 pm

I think the reason Mitchell and Downtown get very little upgrading is that the city has been deferring maintenance and wants them to look bad.
It is not an accident that seemingly small upgrades (like improved lighting) have not happened for years. Now they can cry, it's shabby (they love that word), throw it overboard!
Maybe I am wrong but I think closing a branch on a hot day is primarily an exercise in public relations. Anyway, if a branch is closed for a day or two, what's the big deal? the branches are closed 2 days every week anyway.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 30, 2008 at 4:04 pm

Have you ever made a trip to the library, expecting it to be open and find it is not. Annoying isn't it. Perhaps you can't come back tomorrow, or you need the information today. Maybe you want books to take with you on vacation and can't get them. Maybe tomorrow is also in the 90s and closed. No it is no big deal if you know from the schedule it will be closed, but not if you expect it to be open.

Mitchell is a disgrace and Main is little better. Yes, I suspect that the city has spent nothing on these libraries for years deliberately to get us to vote on a bond, but we don't like the branch system and voting no means we will be stuck with what we have for another ten years.


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Posted by surveys
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 30, 2008 at 4:25 pm

Mike, oh, so you are saying it wasn't spent on Mitchell because Mitchell needs more and the answer to that is don't spend anything? If the bond doesn't pass, what happens? CT still gets its $4mil upgrade and we're left locked out of Mitchell during the summer? Mitchell needs this money more, why is it being spent on CT? What's so special about CT that it gets upgrade when Mitchell is left to rot?


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Posted by Mike, the one and only
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 30, 2008 at 5:42 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by palo alto parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 30, 2008 at 8:21 pm

Closing the branches - I think if the surveys included "to keep all the branches open costs 100 dollars and to keep just Mitchell Park, Main and Children's cost 50 dollars" you would get a very different survey result. The true costs should include not just renovations, but the duplicate collections, staffing, utilities, computers, etc.

Libraries as child care centers - Mitchell park (and to a smaller extent, Main) are used heavily as a after school child care centers, this is not the responsibility of a library. We have great libraries at most of our schools - they close at 2:45-4 pm, why???

Air conditioning - most of our classrooms are not air conditioned and most of the school offices, libraries, MP rooms, etc. are not air conditioned either. We don't get to close schools when its hot, why do we close our libraries? Most of our houses are not air conditioned either, we still live in them.


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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 30, 2008 at 8:44 pm

palo alto parent: I absolutely agree with you about the surveys. I wonder if the most recent survey mentioned costs, or will it be as meaningless as the 2006 survey.

Thank you for the info about air conditioning. I asked in another forum whether hot weather closures of Mitchell Park were for the benefit of employees or patrons. Whatever the answer, if it's too hot to go to the library, it should also be too hot to go to school or to work.


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Posted by Need childcare
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 30, 2008 at 9:46 pm

The school libraries should be open later. At least the libraries that are near Mitchell Park. Then the city librarians wouldn't have to supervise the children until their parents pick them up.
Maybe the schools need some money to pay 2 or 3 librarians or responsible clerks to stay later. The amount of money would not be large. PTA anyone? or another source of money could be found.


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Posted by Get real!
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Jul 1, 2008 at 12:53 am

"I asked in another forum whether hot weather closures of Mitchell Park were for the benefit of employees or patrons."

Why don't YOU try working in 95 heat for eight hours. Where did you say you worked? Pelican Bay?


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Posted by Anna
a resident of Southgate
on Jul 1, 2008 at 6:33 am

The air conditioning debate is a distracting sideshow.

We had libraries in town for 50+ years without air conditioning and nobody seemed to think it was a big deal until this bond started being discussed. As others point out, schools don't have air conditioning for the most part, and they're not regularly shut down because of heat.

Moreover, even if air conditioning were now suddenly a necessity, we don't to spend 60 million to install it.

And in a city that has fighting climate change as one of three priorities, what are we doing even talking about installing air conditioning? The resulting CO2 emissions will dwarf the cuts the city plans to make by buying new cars for the bureaucrats. If we aren't willing to be a little uncomfortable in summer while at the library to be consistent with our principles, maybe we don't really believe all that much in our principles. The mayor gets some good photo-ops though.

If the best argument that library supporters have is that we need to air condition the libraries, we're a pretty spoiled town....and we don't need this bond.


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Posted by Casey
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 2, 2008 at 7:58 am

Our Palo Alto libraries are drab, especially when compared to Mountain View's gem. Upgrading and expanding our libraries would be nice, but NOT nice at any price. I am surprised that we need $79 million to upgrade 3 libraries.

According to the auditor's report, our current libraries have a footprint of 50,399 square feet. If we rebuilt at $400 sq ft, that's only $20.1 million for ALL five libraries. If we doubled the size of ALL the libraries, that's only $40.2 million. And if the costs are wildly off by 50% in the wrong direction, that's $60.3 million. So, how does a "no frills" upgrade of only two libraries and a rebuild of Mitchell add up to $79 million?

Also, it's pretty hard to follow this thread when every few posts appear as:

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

We're all grown-ups. Don't know why Palo Alto Online has to censor. I don't see any other newspaper doing the same.


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Posted by Barbara
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 2, 2008 at 11:32 am

I love our libraries. I haven't used Mitchell, but the others are fine with me. I'm just grateful that they exist, and I can find reading, both books and magazines. The librarians have been wonderful with helping to find anything. I personally see no need for meeting rooms, etc. But I do care that people, including those who work there, not suffer heat stroke. As far as I know there have been a very few days of closure for excess heat.


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Posted by Diane
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 2, 2008 at 1:40 pm

Did any of you attend the library proposal meeting that was held a couple of weeks ago at the downtown branch? Mayor Larry Klein put on a very informative presentation talking about the costs, the proposed plans of each branch, where the money would come from, completion times, the cost per household, etc... In order to make a decision you should attend these meetings. I found it to be very helpful in answering all of my questions and now I know what my vote will be if this ends up on the ballot.


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Posted by Casey
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 2, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Diane.

Would love to hear about the costs. Is Mayor Klein's presentation online somewhere? PDF? YouTube? Anything?


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Posted by too many branches
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 2, 2008 at 2:58 pm

"For the record, College Terrace is not part of this funding intiative. Downtown North is a part of it, although of the four elements--Mitchell, Main, Mitchell Community Center, and Downtown North, the latter is less than 10% of the expenditures.
"Opinions vary about branches, but it is important that people understand what is and is not included on this proposal, and voters should not be confused about where the money is targeted to go."
Paul, that's the oldest trick in the book. Make sure the controversial branches receive their funding elsewhere and then tell voters that THIS bond only funds the popular branches. Tsk. Tsk. All 5 branches require ongoing funding. You're splitting hairs about which of our pockets is being raided for each branch. One way or another, we're all paying for the ineffective 5 branch system. I would like to support our library, but until we drop a couple branches I'm voting no.


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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 2, 2008 at 3:11 pm

There are people who think that having a branch system in Palo Alto is not indicated. On the other hand, the last library measure was defeated in part because it would have consolidated the PA Library operations into fewer facilities, and voters turned that down.

I suppose we could find ourselves in a situation where there are enough people against the branch system concept to prevent from passing a measure that keeps the branch system operating, and where there are enough people who oppose shutting down branches to prevent a measure like the last one from passing either. What a splendid situation that would be for this community, and for the cynics it would be "So Palo Alto." And we would be nowhere.

I don't know how "too many" defines the word "ineffective." I do think there needs to be a better understanding around operating costs with the proposed approach and what the differences are if things operated without branches, along the lines of the last proposal. I actually am looking into that, and I hope to get some factual analysis that can help all of us become better informed, not just talk at a high level about this particular aspect of this matter.


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Posted by Anna
a resident of Southgate
on Jul 2, 2008 at 3:29 pm

"What a splendid situation that would be for this community, and for the cynics it would be "So Palo Alto." And we would be nowhere."

Being "nowhere" (i.e., not passing any bond) would not necessarily be a bad thing to a lot of us. The city has spent oodles of money on crazy union contracts and unsustainable pensions, on silliness like the Homer Bike Tunnel, on buying the city manager part of his house and paying his taxes, and recently decided to fund a police station that they couldn't get the votes for using "alternative" funding in the form of certificates of participation.

The game is obvious: spend the money they have on things that the electorate would never support, and then plead poverty on the things residents do want in hopes of getting even more money to throw around. (Anybody want to wager on how long before they're telling us they need extra money if they're to perform the quintessentially local government function of repairing the streets they've allowed to deteriorate while they work on our global warming policy?)

Telling them "no" on the library and on every other request for extra money to supplement what's already the most generous budget for a similar sized city in California until they start acting responsibly is probably the best thing that could happen here in Palo Alto. Somebody needs to exercise some civic responsibility. If the "leaders" won't do it, then maybe the voters can.


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Posted by agrees
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 2, 2008 at 4:00 pm

Amen, Anna!


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Posted by Karen White
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 2, 2008 at 4:19 pm

The community has already spoken: our branch library system is what Palo Altans need and support. Instead of expending energy re-hashing a subject that's been put to rest, let's coalesce our energies positively on making needed library facility improvements. Now THAT will be exercising civic responsibility!


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 2, 2008 at 4:20 pm

Palo Alto residents have said, over and over and over and over that they want the branch system. The only reason why the last bond proposal failed last time was because we took for granted that the library would receive support.

IN fact, 62%, virtually a voter landslide, approved the bond, but last minute lies and deceptions about the bond, placed on voter doorsteps the last few evening prior to the vote, was enough to keep the bond from passing (we needed a 66.67 majority, to pass.

That is not going to happen again. We will _not_ let it happen again.

The diligence has been done. Whatever Council decides to put on the ballot, we will support, and we will get enough votes to win.

We are going to renew our library, period. We are now beyond the point of negotiation about whether funds will be available to build it. One way, or another, we will get those funds. That's the way it is.


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Posted by why is that?
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 2, 2008 at 4:29 pm

Karen, That's fine as long as you tell everyone what it costs. Please tell us how much we are paying for the current system and will be paying for the new system when it passes. What is the year-on-year cost and how does it compare to neighboring cities?

In all the informational packages and Mayor Klein's presentation, it is not mentioned that Palo Alto already has, as Anna mentioned, "...the most generous [library] budget for a similar sized city in California". Now why is that? These are supposed to be informational evenings not exercises in spin.

I look forward to Paul's analysis.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 2, 2008 at 4:49 pm

why is that?
You will see that Palo Alto runs a far more efficient operation than Mt. View, and other nearby systems. That's been shown in past forums on this issue.

I hope Mr. Losch includes the benefit payback (ROI) that has been SHOWN to be a factor in library spends. If his analysis is missing that data, it's incomplete.

I, too, welcome a full COST AND BENEFIT analysis, like the 25 that have already been concluded, with ALL of them showing a POSITIVE return on taxpayer investment in public libraries.

Why is it that the real BENEFIT - in amassed dollar payback to taxpayers is almost never included in city operations budgets, thus putting necessary infrastructure spending at risk of being defended from only one side of the balance sheet?



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Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 2, 2008 at 5:19 pm

Paul,

I dont get the cost per square foot. $1500 per square foot seems high.

Stanford just completed a building for about $500 per square foot
Palo Alto Weekly is planning a building for about $500 per square foot
My home town just completed a 29,000 square foot library for $517 per square foot.

This project just seems way over priced.


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Posted by bitter legacy
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 2, 2008 at 6:18 pm

The bitter legacy left by the previous library director is her desire to close the smaller branches and the PR skill she used. She brought this poison pill into a town that didn't want it and left conflict in her wake.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 2, 2008 at 10:16 pm

RS, the cost is NOT $1500 per sq ft. Please get your facts straight.

"At an estimated cost of $455 per square foot for the construction of a joint library and community center at Mitchell Park, the Palo Alto project lies between the $413 per square foot spent on San Jose's Santa Teresa branch library and the $561 per square foot spent on San Mateo's new city library."
Web Link




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Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck School
on Jul 3, 2008 at 6:45 am

Mike,

Although never one to miss the chance to insult, you were helpful for a change in spite of it. I'll try to find the square footage info that caused me to come up with my number later.

thanks


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Posted by facts
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 3, 2008 at 8:34 am

No, Mike, what has been shown in past forum posts on this issue is that Palo Alto runs at less than 50% efficiency of neighboring cities.

I like Anna's phrasing. Definitely puts things in perspective.


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Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 3, 2008 at 9:58 am

Ok the Mitchell Park Facility is going to be 51,000 square feet.
Main adds 5,500 square feet

80,000,000 / 56,000 = $1428 / sq ft

So about $1000 per square foot goes to what?


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Posted by Booklover
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 3, 2008 at 2:15 pm

Did you include the footage for Downtown in the above?
Did you take out the Community Center footage? Where does it show?
Just curious about the numbers, so no attacks please.


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Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 3, 2008 at 2:53 pm

I believe the community center should be in the 51,000 unless someone else knows better. The downtown is not adding square footage.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 3, 2008 at 5:27 pm

The bond is for construction AND repair of the *entire* system, excepting Children's.

RS' numbers are completely bogus, because the actual construction costs of Mitchell are in the moderate middle, compared to others. (as stated above).

Insult? Not at all. Just a parry against a consistent series of misinformation and blowhard, uninformed putdowns against the PA library by people who have accurate information at their fingertips. It's all there, folks, just look it up instead of whining, and misinforming.

The library issue has been vetted; it's been vetted too many times. There's a time to be polite, and there's a time for action. Now is the time for action. The MAJORITY of Palo Altans have had enough with naysaying "analysis" (an oxymoron if I ever heard one); they want the naysayers to stand aside. If they don't, we'll run them over at the polls.


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Posted by Diane Jennings, Library Director
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 3, 2008 at 5:33 pm

When you're looking at the estimated cost of the proposed library/community projects, it's important to remember that the amount would fund not just the addition of new square footage, but a major renovation to the existing space at both Main and Downtown libraries.

Here's the relevant detail for the projects:

Downtown - renovate existing 9,000+ sf - no additional sf added; Estimated project cost [not inc. new furniture, equipment, and fixtures (FF&E)]= $3.8 million

Main - renovate existing 20,400+ sf (all except the basement) and add 4,000 sf new; Estimated project cost (not including FF&E) = $18.3 million(approx. 70% of this is to renovate the current facility)

Mitchell Park Lib/Community Center - 52,000 sf new facility (37,000 sf library, 15,000 sf community center); Estimated project cost (not including FF&E) = $49.5 million.

Renovation of Main and Downtown libraries will be signifcant - bringing both facilities up to current seismic, ADA, and other building codes; replacing inefficient and ineffective lighting systems; new mechanical systems; new roofs; adding air conditioning to Main; and restructuring the existing spaces to provide better library service.

Project costs are not construction costs as they include all professional fees and 10% contingency. Plus the estimated project costs are escalated by 8% per year from 2008 until the proposed year of construction. Downtown's estimate is based on building in 2010, Mitchell Park in 2011, and Main in 2012.

So all project costs, not including FF&E (can't be funded through the bond), equal $71.6 million.

The Council will be discussing the proposed bond at their meeting on Monday, July 7 - the regular portion of the meeting will start around 8 p.m. as there will be both a closed session and a study session first.


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Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 3, 2008 at 7:24 pm

thank you, Diane.


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Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 3, 2008 at 8:55 pm

According to Diane's figures, Mitchell Park is $950 per square foot. Why so much?


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 3, 2008 at 9:12 pm

RS,For your edification:

"At an estimated cost of $455 per square foot for the construction of a joint library and community center at Mitchell Park, the Palo Alto project lies between the $413 per square foot spent on San Jose's Santa Teresa branch library and the $561 per square foot spent on San Mateo's new city library."

Construction costs are only *part* of the Mitchell figure. FF&E (furniture, fixtures and equipment) are not included in the physical cost. Also, construction inflation figures are built in, as with all public construction.

Here it is, again.

""At an estimated cost of $455 per square foot for the construction of a joint library and community center at Mitchell Park, the Palo Alto project lies between the $413 per square foot spent on San Jose's Santa Teresa branch library and the $561 per square foot spent on San Mateo's new city library.""

and a third time, just in case you missed it

"At an estimated cost of $455 per square foot for the construction of a joint library and community center at Mitchell Park, the Palo Alto project lies between the $413 per square foot spent on San Jose's Santa Teresa branch library and the $561 per square foot spent on San Mateo's new city library."

Hope that helps.


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Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 3, 2008 at 10:43 pm

no Mike, it does not. Mike, if you dont know the answer, please dont respond. I have an idea what it might be, but I'd rather hear the answer from someone that knows.

thanks for trying though


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Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 3, 2008 at 10:58 pm

So I'll ask the question differently

If the srturture cost is 455 per square foot, the structure costs 23.6 million.
If the project costs 49.5 million, what does the other 26 million pay for?


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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 4, 2008 at 4:42 pm

Check out the "Costs Summary" (page 7 of the pdf file) at Web Link

This was part of the presentation on the new library projects.

What is not shown is the cost of technology, collections, ongoing operational costs and other things the bonds can't pay for.


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Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 4, 2008 at 6:31 pm

thanks pat


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 4, 2008 at 11:11 pm

RS "what does the other 26 million pay for?"

It pays for what Palo Altans - the MAJORITY of Palo Altans - have said they want, over and over and over and over again, in survey after survey after survey.

and just in case you missed it, again:
"At an estimated cost of $455 per square foot for the construction of a joint library and community center at Mitchell Park, the Palo Alto project lies between the $413 per square foot spent on San Jose's Santa Teresa branch library and the $561 per square foot spent on San Mateo's new city library."

What a deal!!!!! We're operating MORE efficiently than other libraries, and repairing our infrastructure at a cost thats far cheaper than other communities.

Fantastic!!!!!

YES! on the bond!



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Posted by Yawn
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 4, 2008 at 11:21 pm

YES YES! We operate around the clock, other towns eat our dust! What a deal!!!! At these prices, we should build 5 MORE BRANCHES! Surveys show that a MAJORITY of Palo Altans support branches and MORE are only BETTER.

IF I KEEP SAYING IT, IT MUST BE TRUE! YOU WILL BELIEVE!


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 4, 2008 at 11:59 pm

"YES YES! We operate around the clock, other towns eat our dust! What a deal!!!! "

The naysayers are clearly on the run!!

Yes!! on the bond!!!


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Posted by Diane Jennings, Library Director
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 6, 2008 at 3:26 pm

Please note that the link that "pat" posted on July 4 to a "Costs Summary" chart is to a staff report that went to City Council in February. The estimated costs for the library projects were revised and presented to the City Council on May 19. The updated cost chart can be found in Attachment B to the staff report on the proposed library bond on the Council agenda for this Monday. Here's the link to the agenda for the meeting:
Web Link

The report is Item #12. The May version of the cost chart is in the Attachment to the report.


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Posted by agenda
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jul 6, 2008 at 5:18 pm

Diane,

The link you posted has an attachment against #12 with the survey results from March 2007, which recommended delaying the vote till Nov 2008. The CMR talks about discussing the more recent survey results from June 2008. Are the more recent survey results available?


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Posted by Diane Jennings, Library Director
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 6, 2008 at 6:06 pm

The results from the June survey will be presented to Council at the meeting tomorrow night. This presentation is being finalized now. It's possible that the City Manager's Office may send out the results mid-day on Monday, but that is not certain at this time.


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Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 6, 2008 at 8:04 pm

thanks Diane


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Actually reading the report
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 6, 2008 at 10:00 pm

"At an estimated cost of $455 per square foot for the construction of a joint library and community center at Mitchell Park"

Actually, if you look at the revised Cost Summary linked to by Diane Jennings, the estimated cost is about $540 per square foot ($28.1 million construction cost and 52,00 square feet of added space) for construction only.

What I'm not sure how to account for, however, are the project development costs ($6.2 million), the contingency costs ($5.6 million), and the escalation cost ($9.6 million). So were the numbers quoted about the other libraries limited to "construction costs" as well? If so, then it's a fair comparison. Otherwise, it's just useless data.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 6, 2008 at 10:16 pm

ARTR, All public bids include contingency, project development, and escalation line items. the report is apples to apples.

Thus:
""At an estimated cost of $455 per square foot for the construction of a joint library and community center at Mitchell Park, the Palo Alto project lies between the $413 per square foot spent on San Jose's Santa Teresa branch library and the $561 per square foot spent on San Mateo's new city library.""


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Posted by Diane Jennings, Library Director
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 6, 2008 at 11:44 pm

Dear "Actually" -

You are correct that the numbers quoted for the other libraries are only for construction. The estimated $455 per square foot for the Mitchell Park project does not include the cost for the site work. The comparison libraries have either already been built and/or bid a while ago. So the construction costs for those projects were adjusted to 2008 dollars to try to make the comparison as close as possible. It's quite difficult to find a great match when comparing projects as they all have different elements and their costs are subject to market conditions at the time of bidding.

A similar library construction project to the proposed Mitchell Park one is the combined Seven Trees Community Center and Library branch of the San Jose Public Library. The original estimate for the 58,350 sf facility was just short of $29 million - about $496 per square foot. All but one of the seven bids on the project came in under the estimate, so the final contract included some extras beyond the basics, totaling $25.7 million. The architects for our proposed projects used the same professional construction cost estimating firm - Davis Langdon - that was used for the Seven Trees project. This is an international firm with top credentials.

I don't think there should be a concern as to whether the construction costs (in today's dollars) have been accurately estimated. The question is what will the market be when the Mitchell Park project is bid and how will that impact the cost of construction.


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Posted by Actually reading the report
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 7, 2008 at 9:41 am

Diane,
Thanks for the clarification. I never doubted your numbers, but it's difficult to get a clear understanding when Mike from College Terrace quotes inaccurate and misleading information.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 7, 2008 at 10:57 am

ATRP, if you've got an issue with FACTS, that's not my problem.

It's the naysayers here who mislead, misquote and distract in hopes of once more derailing a project that the *VAST* MAJORITY of Palo Altans want and know we need.

We know the little game played by the naysayers: convince enough people with their lies, and shoot down a much needed enhancement of our city once more. Won't work this time, folks. We've seen your results and paid the price in the form of *INCREASED* costs resulting from the last time when naysayers derailed our library improvements.

Our library is run MUCH more efficiently than other cities, and the costs adjusted for inflation for this bond are LOWER than other cities. This fact combined with *25* STUDIES showing positive returns to library spending of up to 4.5X makes the library bond yes vote a no brainer for all but those who are dedicated to holding our city back.

This time, in the words of the naysayer hero, Ronald Reagan, "we win, they lose".

Go bonds! GO libraries.


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Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 7, 2008 at 11:24 am

Mike, As I see it, you are not a good advocate for your cause. If I had to vote based on the data you provide, I could easily vote against it. I find the information that Diane is providing more compelling in terms of voting for the bond. Maybe you should consider letting the people can provide helpful information convince those of us that cant be enticed to vote yes based on the information you are providing and the manner in which you present it.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 7, 2008 at 11:42 am

RS, nice try, but yours is the oldest naysayer trick in the book.

Naysayers pretend to be open minded, just waiting to be convinced by the right argument when in fact they're as closed to any argument that might lead to progress in our town as can be.

You hope to persuade others that an open minded person looking at the *FACTS* will think the bond is a loser and so vote against it too.

That might work when people aren't paying attention (during the last library bond campaign). BUT it won't work now. People are on to your game.

The bond will *WIN*. Naysayers will *LOSE*


 +   Like this comment
Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 7, 2008 at 1:08 pm

I was pretty certain that would be about how you would respond, but I wanted to give it a shot anyway.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Actually reading the report
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 7, 2008 at 1:24 pm

Mike,
All I am saying is that the $455 per square foot number in the Daily months ago is a little off. It's still about the same as all other library projects, so there's nothing unusual about the Palo Alto estimates. Translation: I am helping your argument with the actual facts. I'm disappointed that you have turned my little attempt at clarification into a personal attack since I am a supporter of the library bond.

For those of you who have not made up your mind yet, please refer to the postings by Diane Jennings and the op-ed piece by Bern Beecham for accurate and compelling reasons for voting in favor of this bond.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 7, 2008 at 4:50 pm

ARTR, fyi, the last few posts from "Mike" are not mine, but I support their content, in essence.

It's satisfying to add your vote to the 69%+ win we will experience in November.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by agenda
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jul 7, 2008 at 5:41 pm

"69%+ win we will experience in November."

Mike, do you have something to share? Diane mentioned that the latest survey results were being prepared. Are they available?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rod
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 7, 2008 at 6:19 pm

What does it mean when someone posts and then says he didn't write the post but agrees with them? This is really a weird kind of schizophrenia. Makes this forum a little like the Twilight Zone, but interesting.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mike, the one and only
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 7, 2008 at 6:24 pm

Rod, if you've been paying attention, you have seen many try to imitate me, but there's nothing like the real thing.

Imposters try to discredit me with their mockery, but that's all they have which is why the bond vote will deal a crushing defeat to the entire naysaying ideology.

(All the "Mike" posts on this thread, other than this one, in the past 24 hours are the work of someone else.)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Predictions fall flat
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 7, 2008 at 6:33 pm

Mike the poll results are out. Your predictions are not supported.
You need to take another class in predicting the future. Try for a teacher on a mental ward, there will be several to choose from.


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Posted by Diane Jennings, Library Director
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 7, 2008 at 6:38 pm

The presentation to Council tonight is available online. Go to the "Council Agenda Email" section of the City's website at:
Web Link
and open the email today from Kelly Morariu posted at 11:50 a.m. The presentation, which includes the summary of the polling results, is the attachment to Kelly's email.


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Posted by what now?
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 8, 2008 at 7:49 am

>The MAJORITY of our community wants a GREAT branch system,
>and we're going to get it, no matter how much you whine about it.

Ah, Mike, those pesky number things come back to haunt you...

58% of Palo Altans say: "We should focus our resources on one or two full-service libraries instead of spending money to upgrade 5 different libraries."!

Numbers just aren't your friend are they?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jul 8, 2008 at 9:04 am

Note also that according to the survey the LEAST convincing reason to be against the bond is : "Nearly all the money from this bond measure will be used to rebuild Mitchell Park Library. Most local residents use other branches that will not benefit as much from this bond measure." which only 13% said was "very convincing."

It seems like Palo Altans would be happy with fewer branches and one nice big library. Who'd of thunk it?

It does look difficult for the bond. The city has handed the opposition the issue of putting money into the small branches and keeping them alive. Hopefully there will be a spirited campaign, where the issues get fully fleshed out.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bond supporter
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 8, 2008 at 9:29 am

I don't agree with the last poster, I'm voting "yes". I don't see in the survey where we would be happy with fewer branches. Where does it say that? I am looking at the survey right now, and it says "Voters support the measure by a two-to-one margin, but it falls short of a two-thirds majority.", but then they go on to say that there is 12% undecided. And the answer to the question about how important it is for "Completing a series of improvements to all of Palo Alto's branch libraries" receives 78% in favor ("very important" and "somewhat important" with 7% undecided. That's way over the 68% margin needed.


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Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 8, 2008 at 9:48 am

what now?, Me Too, Bond Supporter,

It would help if you give the slide number that you think supports your assertion.

thanks


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Karen White
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 8, 2008 at 9:54 am

Are we possibly over-thinking the analyses and arguments? For me the question is: Do we want library facilities that meet the 21st century needs of our well-educated community? If "yes," vote "YES."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by what now?
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 8, 2008 at 9:57 am

RS, it's a direct quote from slide#27.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jul 8, 2008 at 9:59 am

In answer your question, BS's, 58% of Palo Altans said: "We should focus our resources on one or two full-service libraries instead of spending money to upgrade 5 different libraries."

The data you point out is also correct - but this is an example, in my view, of how a poll can say what the question writer wants it to. In a long list of "projects that could be funded by the bond" one mentioned improvements to all the branches. But it didn't set up any choice - it didn't say, for instance "all the branches, not just the the two largest." When offered that choice, 58% said focus on one or two full-service libraries.

FWIW, right above the data point you cite, 71% say "reducing duplication of facilities" is very or somewhat important. Hmm. It is all in how you ask the question.

It seems like based on the survey the pro-bond people with emphasize "earthquake preparedness," "need modernizing," and "most of the money to Mitchell"; the anti-bond will emphasize pouring money into wasteful and under-utilized minor branches. As with the school bond, I expect the real estate and development interests will heavily fund the pro-campaign, with consultants and direct mail. Who will finance the campaign against?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Vote No on the bond
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 8, 2008 at 10:03 am

Sorry, Karen, if "we want library facilities that meet the 21st century needs of our well-educated community", then you have to vote "no". Ayes vote is a vote for a failed branch system, that strains our budget and resources and duplicates services.
If we want a 21st century library, vote no and then wait until a bond i sintroduced that involves building a single modern library--we are a small town of 50,000- we are not a city like San Jose that has multiple branches.
Vote no on the library bond.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jul 8, 2008 at 10:06 am

Karen, we have to think more if we don't want to lock ourselves into repeating the cycle. We have decrepit libraries and poor collections - why? In my view, a big factor is our spreading our resources - staff, collection, capital - across 5 small branches instead of one or two big ones.

The bond perpetuates the cycle by putting capital improvements into the branches. Even worse, we're being manipulated, since capital is being put into College Terrace outside the bond, so they can say "it doesn't fund CT." It is cynical, but that's the way the game is played.

I want better libraries long-term. But the way to get them is to cut down the branches and all our wood behind one arrow - one really good library, not 5 weak ones. This bond doesn't do that, and I fear we would wind up again in 20 years where we are today. That's not where I want our community to go - I'd rather wait to get a better bond for the right solution and vote for that.

So I do think we all need to think about it and get on the right path.


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Posted by Bond Supporter
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 8, 2008 at 10:16 am

The funny thing is is ifi the branches were taken away, the bond would fail. If the bond is defeated we will have to pay a _lot_ more down the road. Just look at how much more this is costing us because we didn't pass the bond in 2002. There is no way that we can delay this any longer, and besides, all the polls say that we want branches. I am feeling very good about the survey, and the fantastic organization that is going into this project. We're already at 67% according to the pollster (I just watched the tape of last night's meeting). If we keep this up the bond could easily approach the 75% "yes" votes that San Franciscans came up with recently.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2008 at 10:16 am

As stated many times before, the survey had flaws. The right questions were not asked and the emphasis was on what the city wanted not truly trying to find out what the survey replyers wanted. I had to write most of my comments on the very small comments box and I wonder if any note was taken of those.

How many surveys went out and to whom?
What type of cross section of the community received surveys?

A better way to have conducted this survey would have been to ask people at the various libraries at various times of dayas well as Sending the survey to people's homes. How many of those were sent to people who never use libraries, either here or elsewhere? In our home, only one of the adults ever enters a library, the other just depends on the one who goes to bring back the pre-ordered materials as and when. Obviously in this home, the reply to the survey would depend on who was asked.


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Posted by Another bond supporter
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 8, 2008 at 10:22 am

All surveys have flaws, but every survey we've taken says that we want branches. This survey was designed by one of the most respected pollsters in California. It's results pretty much bear out what I hear from my neighbors.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2008 at 10:26 am

Bond Supporter

Our posts happened at the same time.

I don't want to get rid of the branch sites, or even the facilities. But wouldn't it make a lot of sense if the branches were not true libraries but just check out centers for pre-ordered materials with community center facilities, children's story times, wifi centers or internet cafe facilities.

I think that it is the duplication of materials at these branches and the need for librarians that takes up most of the costs of these branches. Having the ability to rent a room to local groups and have a weekly or biweekly children's time and perhaps a study room for teens, would be a great asset without calling it a library. The checkout/return desk would be an added bonus.

We don't want to lose the premises as once lost they can't be returned. But what we do want is to get our two main branches running efficiently and cost effectively. Then decide what bonus extras we can do with the resource centers.

This could truly be a great asset to communities in downtown and CT if only the blinkers were taken off and a new approach made. Since most people use libraries not to peruse the shelves, we don't need shelves full of books. Use the space effectively for community services we would truly value rather than a storage center for duplicative materials.


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Posted by Me Too
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jul 8, 2008 at 10:28 am

Another, I agree the poll is not bad - and on the one clearest question, the answer is clear:

58% of Palo Altans said: "We should focus our resources on one or two full-service libraries instead of spending money to upgrade 5 different libraries."

That's what I hear from my neighbors as well.

So I guess we'll both be voting no then.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by surveyed
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 8, 2008 at 10:33 am

Resident, the survey presented last night was the result of 600 telephone calls to residents likely to vote. At least that's what is stated on slide 4. It has a +/- 4% of error. I'm not sure where the results of the mail-in survey were reported.

I was one of those called and, interestingly enough, the caller expressed disappointment when I stated I was a "definitely no". There were subtle queues, almost pleading, to change my opinion in the tone of his voice throughout the interview. I didn't think it was very professionally done.

Looking more at the survey, on slide 17 it shows that support drops by a whopping 10% down to 53% if Downtown is moved out of the bond. Now that's branch supporters removing their support unless the branch system is maintained. On slide 18 support drops to 58% once people consider how much it is going to cost them.

I can't find the link to this following information but I believe I remember it correctly from a previous FFMA report. For bonds to pass, they generally should have 40% "definitely yes" at this stage. It's currently only at 31%. Also, you should have at least 66% leaning yes at the outset since support drops off in a long-running campaign.

It really is going to be close run measure.


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Posted by Library bond will pass
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 8, 2008 at 2:45 pm

Just to make sure there is no bad information. It's 63% "yes" with 12% undecided, and the pollster said that at least 1/3 of the undecided voters traditionally go on to "yes".

So we're starting at 67%. Yes!


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Posted by Me Too
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jul 8, 2008 at 2:55 pm

True, LBWP. You just need to keep people from hearing that it will actually cost them money. When they learn that, support drops to 58%, with 9% undecided (p. 18) - so that puts you at 61% and defeat.


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Posted by A question
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 8, 2008 at 3:40 pm

To the branch haters:
If you eliminated the 4 million for downtown the bond issue would be $71 million. Would you support a$71 million bond?


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Posted by what now?
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 8, 2008 at 3:47 pm

March 2007, support for the bond measure was at 63% with a recommendation to move the bond to November and educate local residents about the need for the bond. Web Link.

June 2008, after educating everyone, support for the bond measure remains at 63%. Web Link

That's pretty stubborn resistance. The pro-bond group need to make a better case if they're going to change people's opinion.


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Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 8, 2008 at 3:53 pm

bond will pass,

You are also assuming that no yes votes will move to No's
So right now its at the tipping point. The conclusions on slide 30 indicate more education would be required for the bond to pass.

Now it seems from this survey the thing that needs stressing that most folks can get behind is the need for a seismic upgrade. Seems like that is what most folks agree there is a need for. It is the thing that has me more interested in the project and made me want to understand the balance of the plan better. I really dont see the need for some of the improvements, but I'd rather not see any of the existing building come down in a quake and crush the occupants. That to me is more of a compelling argument for this project than any of the other items that are typically highlighted and it would appear the survey results backs this up. (see slide 19)


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Posted by Me Too
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jul 8, 2008 at 3:58 pm

Speaking for myself, if the city said they would close or significantly reduce staffing, collection, and hours at DT and CT, as well as not spend capital to upgrade, I would support a library bond. The big problem with the bond today isn't the $4M for DT (though it is a problem) - it is that it perpetuates the inefficient set-up we have today, and doesn't address the year-in, year-out operating expenses issue, which probably means we'll have run-down libraries again in 10-20 years.

So yes, if they scaled by investment and operating expense in DT and CT, I would be a supporter.


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Posted by Twenty million
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 8, 2008 at 4:29 pm

Why isn't anyone talking about scaling back TWENTY MILLION for Main? They just finished a remodel there. Sounds a lot like the city digging up the streets again shortly after they close up a repair.


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Posted by Good Point
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 8, 2008 at 8:12 pm

Good point, $20M - but of course if 10% of supporters drop away if Downtown branch gets dropped, imagine the drop-off if Main were axed from the bond. At least main has a respectable circulation. Personally given the size of town, I would be ok with a major branch at Mitchell and a minor at Main.


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Posted by yeah for libraries
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jul 8, 2008 at 8:38 pm

someone said "June 2008, after educating everyone, support for the bond measure remains at 63"

This is not quite accurate. I watched on TV last night and it was made clear by the pollster that 1/3 of undecided voters typically vote "yes". This means that we are at 67% before we even start the promotional campaign. This is going to be a slam dunk. What really surprises me is how the voters here that want no branches don't seem to understand that the bond will not pass without branches. there might be an economy or two to squeeze out of this plan but I can't see this bond failing. My neighbors and I and all our kids are all going to campaign for the library. We're really excited! I can't wait to see Palo Alto with a rebuilt library system!


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Posted by Hmm
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jul 8, 2008 at 9:06 pm

Yeah, were you a Hillary supporter by any chance? Seems like she was a shoe-in, even inevitable, several months before the elections took place, according to her pollsters. But it didn't turn out that way when people focused on the real options.

There aren't many in Palo Alto who are against libraries per se. But our current set up it out-dated and inefficient (not to mention that 4 of 5 branches are on the north side of town) and we are raising taxes to sustain it. Personally I think it will be a close vote.


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Posted by surveyed
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 9, 2008 at 8:44 am

Found that link: Web Link

"Metz said as a rule of thumb, early public support should hover around the crucial two-thirds supermajority needed to pass a ballot measure because enthusiasm often wanes during a long bond campaign.

Similarly, if 40 percent of residents say they will "definitely" vote yes, the measure has a good chance of getting the core support to push it through, Metz said. But only 29 percent of Palo Alto residents gave a "definite yes" answer to the combined bond measure in the poll.

"We recommend that you consider deferring (the vote) until the November 2008 election," Metz said, citing a larger voter turnout and more time to educate the public."

The most recent survey doesn't show the required support to get this bond over the line.


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