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Writers support library-funding Measure L as police union opposes

February 10, 2011 |  1:41 pm

Science fiction writer Ray Bradbury, the Writers Guild of America and an array of well-known authors and others publicly announced their support for Measure L on Thursday. Measure L, which will be on the March 8 municipal ballot in Los Angeles, is designed to carve out a greater share of city funds to support public libraries.

The announcement comes the same day that the L.A. Police Department's union, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, has said it will oppose the measure.

Authors who publicly endorsed the measure include bestselling crime writers Michael Connelly and Joseph Wambaugh, Middle East specialist Reza Aslan, Janet Fitch ("White Oleander"), Maxine Hong Kingston, Pico Iyer, Mona Simpson, "A Prairie Home Companion"'s Garrison Keillor, literary icon Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Poet Laureates Kay Ryan and Robert Hass.

Writers and libraries have seen strong support for the measure from the city government. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosia, L.A. City Controller Wendy Gruel, and all 15 members of the City Council have endorsed Measure L.

Our sibling blog L.A. Now explains the police union's opposition, writing, "League President Paul M. Weber said in a statement that the measure was 'ballot-box budgeting' that would 'create more problems than it solves' by diverting a greater share of the city’s property tax revenue to libraries without creating a stream of money to replace it."  

Rather than increasing taxes, Measure L would adjust how tax dollars are allocated. If passed, it would increase the Library’s Charter‐required funding within four years from the current .0175% up to a maximum of .0300% of each $100 of assessed tax value on property within the city. This would enable libraries, which are now open just five days a week, to return to a six- or seven-day schedule.

Other supporters of Measure L include the Los Angeles Business Council, the AFL-CIO, PEN Center USA, radio and television host Tavis Smiley, legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky, filmmaker Gary Ross and former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan. If I'm reading the list correctly, also making a personal -- but not professional -- endorsement is current Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Ray Bradbury at the L.A. Times Festival of books in 2002. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times