August 2, 2008
I am pleased to report that, after our press conference on July 24, accompanied by your phone calls and letters to the Mayor’s office, the PPL and Mayor’s negotiators agreed to add an escape clause to the Library Agreement so that the City could withdraw from the 4-year contract with PPL next June if City officials and library patrons are dissatisfied with the plan for a so-called “sustainable system” that PPL plans to develop by the end of this year and implement starting on July 1, 2009. (See revised Agreement, attached. Sections 7 and 8 are the parts added as an escape clause.) Thanks for your help!
The proposed Agreement, with revisions, went to the City Council at the beginning of this week, too late for councilors to examine the document closely before to approve it before its August recess. Had the Council been involved in the negotiations from the beginning, as an equal partner with PPL and the Mayor’s office, it would not have had to delay approval until after their August break. We expect the Council to review the proposed Agreement carefully and perhaps suggest some further revisions before it votes. We hope that the Council, the Mayor’s office and PPL will be able to iron out any differences so all parties can ratify the contract by early September.
What will happen to the branches in the meantime? The PPL trustees had threatened to start closing branches if the City Council didn’t ratify the Agreement in July. However, the Mayor has reportedly signed the contract and returned it to library officials to demonstrate the City’s commitment to approving the Agreement eventually and urged PPL to keep all the branches open until things are worked out and the Council ratifies the Agreement. It is my understanding that PPL has agreed to this.
What will happen to Washington Park? The PPL Facilities committee met this morning and discussed the status of Washington Park. According to the Library Reform Group report on the meeting, PPL Director Dale Thompson said “everyone’s anxious to get back in the building” but that they need to wait for the overall Agreement to be approved. Also, PPL and the City will need to finalize the lease authorizing the Library to resume services in the building. Once these things happen, PPL expects it will take about two weeks to get everything back in the building and open for business. We would like to see PPL and the City make a good-faith gesture and reopen the library in August, but this probably not going to happen.
At this point, we are pretty much going to have to sit tight until the Council reconvenes in September. Once it has reviewed the Agreement and hopefully approved it, with perhaps further modification, then the PPL trustees will have to reapprove it, since they approved the original Agreement and the wording has already changed once and may change again. We may need to encourage the various parties to hurry the process along, but we will have to wait until early next month to see.