An unofficial statement regarding Clearview Library social media comments

Hello, I am a member of the Clearview Library Board of Trustees, BUT DO NOT SPEAK FOR THE BOARD. However, I would like to provide context regarding some of the points raised in this post and invite you or any member of our community to dialog with board members through direct contact. Please keep in mind that the Library Board of Trustees does not have input into program content or subjects.

Regarding the GLOW program, the library district’s partnership with SPLASH has been suspended for the time being while it is re-evaluated and reassessed. The G.L.O.W program will continue under the direction of the library district’s teen librarian.

As you have spent a copious amount of time reviewing board and staff emails, I would encourage you to also apply that level of diligence to read the Library’s “Financial Spending” section on its website, along with the budget, and financial statements found in the Board packets. I’d also invite you to review the “Future Projects” section and read “A Plan for the Future,” the short-and long-range facilities plan that begins to address the current needs of the district over the next 10 years. In the plan, you’ll find that through multiple surveys, community meetings, and listening sessions, more than 3,500 comments were received, with 1 of every 4 comments focused on space and facilities. In 2017 and 2018, the voters sent a clear message to the library district that any facility expansion would have to be done utilizing current funds, and through the fiduciary stewardship of recent library boards, they found a way to expand facilities and accommodate growth, all while living within the means of current funding sources.

As for the program policy, it is currently being evaluated and revised to account for the great feedback we’ve received. As I have previously stated, I have suggested that the policy explicitly states that parents/guardians are permitted to accompany their children to any programs. However, their child must be attending that event to enable parent/guardian accompaniment.

It is not my place to respond to criticisms of past or present library employees or contractors, except to say that Attorney Garcia is upholding compliance with Colorado Library Law, specifically the library user’s right to privacy regarding materials and services.

I’ve seen people ask “what can we do?” – please directly engage your Library Board members. Over the last few weeks, we have received numerous and heartfelt emails, phone calls, and I’ve had productive personal discussions surrounding these matters. I appreciate everyone’s perspective, especially those who would like to approach this conversation with a willingness for fruitful dialog. You can reach me at 970.372.0738 or jeromey.balderrama@clearviewlibrary.org
I do not respond to Facebook comment threads, but welcome any direct engagement or personal conversations.

An Unofficial Statement Re: Clearview Library Program Policy Changes

An Unofficial Statement Re: Clearview Library Program Policy Changes

Hello, I am a member of the Clearview Library Board of Trustees, BUT DO NOT SPEAK FOR THE BOARD. However, I would like to provide some context regarding the proposed Program Policy changes that are being considered.

First off, I encourage you to separate this policy from this or any particular program, and as with any policy, is a general principle that applies to ALL programs, regardless of their content or intention. Also, please keep in mind that the Library Board of Trustees does not have input into program content or subjects.

As a parent of two children under 10, we all want to keep our children safe and ensure that the Clearview Library is a safe place for them. As a parent, I do care about programming and make my personal choices on which programs they can attend. At the same time, I would be extremely concerned to know that any unattached adult could walk off the street, join a program meant for minors, photograph, and record videos of them for their purposes. For every parent with good intentions (e.g. preemptively observing a program), there are unfortunately adults in our community that have nefarious or predatory intentions. This policy change addresses that particular loophole, ensuring that contact with outside adults is limited in a program designated for minors.

Update 25 Apr 6:30pm: After conferring with community members and receiving excellent feedback, two points should be clarified:
1) The version included in the Library Board’s Packet for the April meeting, is a draft version, that has been provided to the Board for initial feedback.
2) The draft Program Policy Document could better clarify the attendance of parents in their child’s programs. I plan to suggest to the board a clarification that parents/guardians are permitted to accompany their children to any programs. However, their child must be in attendance at that event to enable parent/guardian attendance.

The Clearview Library employees undergo criminal background checks, as well as any volunteers that work with minors. When working with kids, the volunteers are supervised by the library’s excellent staff members. This mirrors similar policies found at schools. Performing such diligence against adults who drop into events is not feasible, therefore this policy change was drafted to ensure our library remains a safe place for our community’s children.

While I hope you come to Thursday’s meeting and make your voice heard, the structure of these meetings isn’t conducive to a dialog, where questions can be asked and constructive conversations can take place. As such, I would invite you to reach out to me or any other Library Trustee directly. I’m more than happy to answer questions, hear your viewpoint, and work together to improve our community. I can be reached at jeromey.balderrama@clearviewlibrary.org or by phone at 970.372.0738. Like you, I am a hard-working American, as well as a newly single parent, so my phone time before Thursday may be limited, but will try to return as many messages as I can. If you would like to discuss this face-to-face, contact me to make arrangements.

Reflections on attending the DQSH Protest

Reflections on attending the DQSH Protest

Last Saturday I attended the Clearview Library Drag Queen Story Hour as a counter-protester. This was my first time ever making a political sign and exercising my First Amendment rights in this way, and was quite an interesting experience.

The story hour itself was a registration-required event, and had filled up in the prior week. Apparently there was a 200 person waiting list (the largest room in the library had a max occupancy of 80). Outside were about 100 people in the designated “free speech zone” – an area 30 feet from the entrance to permit library patrons and story hour participants to arrive. Of the 100, it was about a 1/3 to 2/3 split between protesters against the event and supporters/counter-protesters.

Protesters seemed to fall into two large camps: people protesting on religious/moral grounds, with signs citing biblical verses and various religious and moral messages about corrupting children, as well as conservatives there that were “fighting the Left”. It was questionable as to whether some of the protesters were part of the Alt-Right, but some of the protesters seemed to be part of some larger conservative-based movement.

As for the supporters, there were also 2 segments: those drawing attention to the LGBTQ issues, counter-protesting the intolerance, as well as those generally supporting the library, freedom of speech, and general opposition to the protesters. I would count myself among the latter group, but my nuanced position seemed to confuse people on both sides at some point.

When I got there at 9:45, it wasn’t clear where people were standing, so I just stood on the corner and held up my signs. A lot of people who would later stand with the “against” protesters told me they liked my signs and were conversing with me. Apparently, some event supporters yelled obscenities at me as well, but I didn’t hear them. Then when the lines became apparent and I saw someone I knew, I went and stood next to her, at which point I had a bunch of supporters come up and apologize to me. A lot of the protesters suddenly had problems with my signs. As the morning progressed, a few supporters from the back came up to me and said they liked my signs.

The protests were mostly civil, both sides chanting back and forth. There were a few minor confrontations, but the police did an excellent job making their presence known without interfering or infringing the free speech rights of everyone. Truth be told, I think both sides had some chants and actions that were bad looks. Protests are a blunt instrument, and when you remove nuance, you give way to stereotypes to take hold. You could see the protesters demonize the supporters as religious heretics that were enabling child endangerment, while the supporters generalized the protesters as religious nuts and Alt-Right hate groups.

I didn’t take part in any of the chants and mainly stood silently unless someone directly yelled at me about my sign, at which point I would engage back with them. One of the protesters that engaged with me finally said he couldn’t disagree with my points, so that was kinda cool. At the end of the event when the supporters disbanded, I walked back to my car past the police chief who shook my hand, then by a few of the “Don’t tread on me” protesters. I told them to have a good day and they said: “you too”.

In the end, I think this was a worthwhile event for our community. Diverse programming was offered at the library unimpeded, and there was a lively conversation about culture, morals, and freedom outside of the library. I realize that people may feel uncomfortable about social disruption, but protests (and counter protests) and demonstration are integral parts of our American heritage. Just because conversations don’t happen in the public square doesn’t mean that they’re not taking place, these events just enable communities to bring these views into the light for all to see.

More on the Windsor Library Mill Levy

I wanted to share some more thoughts that I composed on the NextDoor discussion regarding the Clearview Library District Mill Levy proposal. People brought up some great points about whether we need to build the new library now and why the library can’t finance it out of the current taxes they receive.

I’ll be the first to say that I don’t understand how Libraries are funded, but let’s assume that a portion of their funding of their $2.6m operating budget comes from our taxes, and that revenue may have increased over the years due to additional growth. Even then, we’re still talking about operational budget.

I don’t know how your household works, but if you’re a homeowner, chances are that you didn’t purchase your house outright with 100% cash. If my family was expected to save for the complete value of our home using only my operational budget, it would take a lot longer than 30 years for me to buy my home – and by the time I could afford it, my kids would be grown and we’d be too old to manage a house the size that we needed back when our family was young.

Good thing we have mortgages, where the bank takes a chance on us and assumes I can make incremental payments out of our operational budget for the next 30 years, making a return on their investment through interest.  We’re able to benefit because we can buy the house that fits our needs now (although I’d recommend buying the house you need 5-10 years from now, if you can afford it – but that’s another post).

While the Mill Levy is not a mortgage loan, it enables the financing to construct needed facilities now, rather than 20 years from now, 10 years too late. Rather than getting interest payments, the community benefits by being able to use the new modern facilities now, rather than having to wait 20 years (imagine if the bank said they’d forgo interest in exchange for being able to regularly use your home).

People raise valid points when they examine current needs and weigh them against priorities, wondering if we should wait until the need becomes more evident. However, we’ve already seen how this played out in how we’ve deferred I-25 and I-70 improvements – and now look at how terrible traffic has become. I wish I could go back in time 10 years and convince younger me to fervently push for an Interstate train, or at least more northern lane expansion between Johnstown and Fort Collins. Now it almost seems like too-little, too late.

One last thing to consider: that proposed area of land, once on the outskirts of Windsor, is really the last opportunity for us to have a centrally-located library. The current location is land-locked, and the architecture doesn’t support vertical expansion, without starting anew. We have an opportunity now to choose what’s going on that proposed plot of land. It’s prime real estate, and something is going to be built on it – are you sure you’ll be happier with what’s built there over a library?

Windsor’s Library Mill Levy

The Clearview Library District in my town of Windsor has recently announced that they’re seeking a Mill Levy increase in this November’s ballot. As you can imagine, this has generated a significant amount of discussion and debate within the community, reflected in sites like NextDoor. I wanted to my thoughts I recently posted on that site, in response to people who were considering voting against this measure because of dissatisfaction with how the library is run, or it’s current conflict with their own needs.

I would really encourage people to not make this mill levy a referendum on your current view of the library or its management, but rather what you want Windsor to stand for, as well as the roles libraries have in providing access to knowledge, resources and serving as a community space.

It’s easy to forget just how many resources are offered by libraries, I didn’t realize the value until I had kids of my own. With two girls under 5, it’s important for them to have space for them to interact with other kids, have stories read to them, and to be able to discover new books and learning tools. We do our best to enforce proper library etiquette, but kids at play are not always quiet. it’s become apparent that space has become an issue and that town growth has outpaced the current capacity.  To those that are upset by the children: what alternative do you have aside from more space or a better design?

I hate to break it to you, but Windsor is going to continue to grow. We can either put our heads in the sand and complain, or acknowledge the growth and take a civic role in shaping our community.  Citizens – namely children – are going to need places to gather. You can choose whether it’s going to be at a welcoming place that has the space to accommodate them, or be forced to choose somewhere else that invites trouble.

The Mill Levy isn’t about what’s going on right now, it’s about what’s going to happen in the next decade. You can either play checkers with your ballot, or play chess and think a few moves ahead  – I’m sure you can use the library to help up your game.

Since then, a healthy debate has formed in the discussion of this topic. While people obviously disagree, it does sound like many do believe we’re in need of a new library, but question whether a Mill Levy is the appropriate fund-raising avenue.  There were questions as to whether a Sales Tax increase would be a more fair taxation. I actually got clarification on the taxation issue, learning that the Library District isn’t supported by the city/town municipality and thus does not have access to sales tax revenue. It’s actually considered a state entity and like many public schools, can only receive funding through Mill Levy increases.

Fair points have been raised as to whether Mill Levy’s punish small businesses by requiring their owners to pay twice, with the commercial assessment being far greater than personal property.  I do agree that there should be a debate and exploration as to whether Mill Levy’s taxation on businesses should be re-examined, but also must acknowledge that all citizens – not just business owners – carry the burden of taxation.  It’s not like this is a cigarette tax or sin tax, it’s affirming that the entire community is committing to something that will better our town.  We shouldn’t avoid building the house just because we only have hammers in our toolbox, but let’s see if we can refine our tools.