Here’s the link to Friday’s Editor’s Roundtable I was on with Ricky Young, the government editor for the Union-Tribune.

If you listen, you might be able to tell I’m enjoying this debate about the schoobrary.

Let’s go over a couple of things.

Reader Bonnie commented, in the post below:

You say it’s not the project, but the deception that irks you, so I wish you would not denigrate the concept and give it that mocking nickname. Somebody deserves credit for the creativity of the school-in-a-library plan; these days it is important to think outside the box. What I don’t understand is why the original plan couldn’t simply be scaled down. For example, is a large auditorium a necessity? Your tone on this topic is a turnoff.

Schoobrary? Mocking? No…

I never said that I wasn’t upset with this particular project. I meant a library in general when I wrote that I wouldn’t get this fired up if San Diego voters agreed to a special tax to fund a new central library. What irks me is that they don’t dare put up a special tax like that to a vote. So they want to spend money, they just don’t want to raise it.

So they went out to come up with the schoobrary idea. It’s ridiculous and I plan on mocking it relentlessly.

“Somebody deserves credit for the creativity of the school-in-a-library plan…”

Yes, please, I’d love to know who came up with this thing.

I think it’s time we come to review the Five Undeniable Truths About the Schoobrary, or FUTAS:

1) A high school downtown is not needed. There already are three: San Diego High School, Cortez Hill Academy, and yes, an alternative one: Garfield High School.

2) An elementary school is needed downtown. But an elementary school can’t be built on top of a library. So apparently that makes it not worth spending money on.

3) The city is out of money. The mayor likes to say that no general fund dollars will be spent on the downtown library. That’s true. But $80 million in downtown redevelopment tax dollars will be and those can be used for many many needs that the general fund is paying for. We can’t be the only ones who think it’s rather insane for him to be simultaneously advocating the closure of branch libraries while tooting this project’s rusty horn.

4) The school district is out of money. It, did, however, just receive a bundle of money to build things. But does that mean it should build things it doesn’t need?

5) The fundraisers for the new library have come up severely short of their goals and they would pretty clearly be willing to turn the project into anything imaginable to get revenue for it.

My tone on this topic is, indeed, a turnoff. On the radio Friday, host Gloria Penner said I would infuriate the “bibliophiles” in her audience.

So here’s a quick message to bibliophiles out there: I’m one of you. I’m one of those people who smells the inside of books and always buys or checks out more books than I could ever consume.

But if you read a lot, you appreciate logic and facts. Things like: “If you want to build something, you need money to do it.” And: “If you have money to build something, you should build something you need.”

Just because we bibliophiles love books, love libraries and love schools doesn’t mean we should combine all of them. I love gazpacho, French toast and brownies. I’m not sure that I should combine those things.

We have to look at the resources the city has and the needs it has neglected.

On that note, I want to see if there isn’t a compromise. I had heard some time ago that people were talking about a City-Hall-a-Brary. And I do see the need for a new City Hall. The city leases so many offices outside the current office complex, it makes sense to put them under one roof. And the current City Hall is rather — hmm, how do you say it — decrepit, dangerous and embarrassing.

So why not find a way to put the library nicely designed at the bottom of a new City Hall? Heck, we need a new elementary school downtown so you could put a new school in the same complex. There is plenty of land in this area.

The original downtown library plan included an auditorium. We could combine that with council chambers to make one super-auditorium. Plus, there had been talk about leasing out office space to others on the top floors of the library.

Councilman Carl DeMaio had flirted with the idea of a City-Hall-a-Brary too. An unflinching critic of both the new City Hall concept and the library, I thought he might be dabbling.

But alas, he’s not. A call to his office confirmed that he is definitely not supportive of this. Erica Mendelson, his communications director, said they’d be coming out with a report explaining why.

But he’s not God. Is this a possible compromise we could discuss? Or should I stick with the mocking?


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