Poll: How will you vote on Measure L?
On Tuesday, when Angelenos go to the polls for a midterm election, they'll be able to vote yes or no on Measure L. The measure provides funding to the Los Angeles Public Library and has a line of supporters that includes the mayor, all the members of the City Council and an array of library supporters. But exactly how Measure L will provide funding -- by altering the City Charter -- has some deeply concerned, like the police union, the League of Women Voters and the L.A. Times editorial board.
Here's part of the L.A. Times editorial Vote No on Measure L:
We love libraries too, and consider them a core part of a city's responsibility....
The problem with Measure L, though, is that it asks the question about library funding in artificial isolation. Dedicating more money to the library system without increasing overall city revenues means that other functions of city government will have to receive less. In the abstract, cutting library hours seems hard to defend. But what if the alternative is to hire fewer police officers, or to cut gang-intervention efforts, or to make new businesses wait longer for permits, or to close down graffiti-removal programs?
The voters elect a mayor and City Council to make those kinds of choices through a comprehensive annual budget process, adapting their allocations to the city's ever-changing needs and circumstances. Mandatory funding proposals such as Measure L ask voters to make choices about particular programs without knowing how those choices will affect the rest of the budget. That is why The Times opposes them.
In an op-ed, former librarian and author Susan Patron, who won the Newbery Award in 2007 for her book "The Higher Power of Lucky," wrote in support of the measure.
The library's budget is only 2% of the total city budget. In the past two years, the library force has been reduced by 28%. The book budget has shrunk to $1.70 per capita, versus a national average of $4.20. This is shameful. Measure L can change it.
Measure L will progressively increase the library's share of existing city revenues. Within four years, it will increase the library's charter-required funding from the current 0.0175% to a maximum of 0.0300% of each $100 of assessed tax value on property within the city.
The measure doesn't call for a tax increase. It calls for a change in city priorities, a change in how we allocate the funds Los Angeles already collects. That change of priorities is crucial. The city's leaders have shown that they cannot be trusted to weigh the worth of our library appropriately as they grapple with L.A.'s deficits. Their unwillingness to give the library its fair share means that the voters must step in.
There's more from the Times on Measure L in this story by Kate Linthicum. What do you think? How will you vote on Measure L?
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: Chinatown Branch Library in 2010. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / L.A. Times