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    Protect Oakland Library Funding

    By Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Councilmember At-Large–

    The Oakland City Council will hear options for a library funding Measure. One of the options is from the Mayor/Administration, which will have no funding allocation protections. The other option, which I support, includes revised language to add additional protections for library funds, should the measure pass. This revised option is supported by community advocates and the Life Enrichment Committee.

    When the original draft Library Ballot Measure was presented to the Life Enrichment Committee on January 9, 2018, members of the public urged that the Committee revise the measure to protect any funding from being diverted, and to ensure that the needed improvements in library services would be provided.

    At the Committee meeting, I made a motion to revise the language to protect these funds, to include: 1) Maintenance of effort of funding (protect funding for the stated purpose, not to be cut); 2) Support our students—make sure our youth have access to needed libraries at hours and locations that are available to them; 3) Equity in use of funds; 4) Extend hours and days libraries are open and full-time/permanent work.

    I am urging that the public support, and the Council adopt, a version that protects library services and funding levels. As we work together to help protect and strengthen our libraries, I encourage us to include key steps to ensure that our community is well served. We must provide adequate support to our students, to ensure that youth have access to libraries at times and locations that help them be able to succeed, complete their homework, and that services are open when our youth can use them.

    We should additionally include protection for library funding, known as a “maintenance of effort” provision, in the upcoming Measure, to make sure that funds are used for the intended purpose, rather than to replace cuts from elsewhere. Our public and community advocates have asked for these protections, and voters should have a right to know that money they vote for will be used as intended.

    Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan was elected in 2008 to serve as Oakland’s citywide Councilmember; she was re-elected in 2016. She also serves on the Board of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), and as the Chair of the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC).