A judge ruled Tuesday that Philadelphia's mayor cannot close 11 public library branches to save money because an ordinance requires City Council approve such actions.
Common Pleas Judge Idee Fox heard more than a day of testimony before finding that the mayor is bound by a 1988 ordinance that prohibits him from closing any city-owned building without City Council's approval.
The libraries had been slated to close Thursday, but two lawsuits were filed and Mayor Michael Nutter was booed repeatedly about his decision during a news conference Monday.
He said the cash-strapped city could save about $8 million a year by closing 20 percent of its 54 library branches. The mayor had said the shuttered facilities could reopen with help from private financial partners. ...
In response to the library cuts, Nutter said he expected books, computers and other materials to stay at the envisioned public-private "knowledge centers." But he could not say if the facilities would be staffed by librarians.
American Library Association president Jim Rettig said libraries work best as publicly funded entities with trained staff. "It makes as much sense to privatize your libraries as it does to privatize your police force," Rettig said.
Whoa. What has usually been the case with privatization is that the taxpayers actually end up paying more and getting less. Eliminating good, professional jobs in the worst parts of your city is only going to add to the economic problems. This seems like a terrible idea and I hope the library advocates are able to stop it.