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Tuesday, May 15, 2007 | I admire Evan McLaughlin‘s intelligence and pluck in attempting to cast some light on Mayor Sander’s budget proposal. I got so bogged down in the “outputs” as opposed to “outcomes” that it made me downright nostalgic for the days of Spiro Agnew.

But I do understand the word “reduction” which appeared under the library department in the IBA report, I do know that the mayor has publicly stated that there are no cuts to the library budget or services and I do believe that unless you are Humpty Dumpty, you can’t have it both ways. The City Heights Weingart Library Performance Annex is on the chopping block as well as the professional manager position which oversees the operation and programming. Granted we’re pretty much the working poor here in City Heights, and many of us don’t speak English well, although that doesn’t seem to be a detriment to working with the department of independent budget analysis, and we’re not used to people falling all over themselves to bring us parks, adequate public transit, and other nice infrastructure improvements, but we did notice.

Our City Heights Performance Annex, which is an integral part of our library, isn’t broken. The facility is used by community based and community wide organizations to bring our residents the finest quality, compelling and beautiful arts and cultural programs. It must not be “restructured” and placed under the aegis of some other cash-strapped city department in a fiscal shell game that offers little to no savings to the citizenry and will essentially spell the end of our programs. But most of all, there must be a political recognition of the promise made to our community over a decade ago when I sat with other community residents around a table with representatives of the library, the city, Price Entities and City Link during the wrenching, destabilizing redevelopment process in City Heights. Our performance annex came out of those discussions and the participants were adamant that the annex would be operated as an integral part of our library, as opposed to Park and Recreation which does not provide arts and cultural programming. Shame, shame if this promise is not acknowledged and kept.

This whole budget process makes me despair. Imagine if we citizens were patients who were told that we are desperately ill by a specialist — the department of independent analysis. This specialist admits that she isn’t sure what is causing the problem, but she’s going to yank out our spleen because the mayor/insurer says cuts must be made. The specialist doesn’t know what tests to perform afterwards to determine if the operation is successful, but we are assured that we won’t die. And of course it’s the attending physician — the City Council, who is praying that we don’t croak on their watch.

It’s unconscionable that a budget is balanced on the backs of the poorest, most neglected and vulnerable among us — the sick, the elderly, kids, refugees, and that other human beings can say that this is necessary even without knowing the “outcomes,” or is it “outputs,” as if we are some trifling “whatever.”

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