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Liberty Lake mayor vetos ordinance giving city council oversight on library policies

Mayor Cris Kaminskas vetoed the ordinance and said neither the city council nor the mayor will initiate book restrictions or restrict access to library material.

LIBERTY LAKE, Wash. — The mayor of Liberty Lake vetoed a city council ordinance that would give the council the power to accept or reject library policies.

Mayor Cris Kaminskas said neither the city council nor the mayor will initiate book restrictions or restrict access to library material. In a statement, she said the new ordinance sets the city council and library board up for "a never-ending cycle of submittals and rejections."

Liberty Lake's city council voted 4-3 on May 16 to give themselves the final say regarding library board policies, including collection development. The ordinance said the city council will not initiate any book bans but will have the final say if the library proposes a book ban.

Kaminskas said the way the ordinance is written does not allow for discussion about the board's policies. Instead, she believes the ordinance will only result in a series of submittals and rejections until the board submits something the council approves of.

"The four Councilmembers who voted to implement these changes have a total of approximately 16 years of experience on City Council and none have degrees or professional experience in libraries or in education," Kaminskas wrote in a statement. "On the other hand, the Library Board of Trustees has over 96 years of professional experience in libraries and education."

Among the board members, Kaminskas said they hold masters degrees in library sciences, special education, curriculum and instruction, early childhood education, educational leadership and a school library endorsement.

One of the board members is also an attorney in the library industry.

"The board is made up of educated and trained professionals; Let them do what they were appointed to do," Kaminskas said. "All members were confirmed by council; that is the Council oversight."

The mayor suggested that neither the city council nor the mayor will initiate a book ban at the library. If the board decides to remove any material, the decision will go to city council, who will then either uphold or reject the board's proposal.

With regard to the new clause that requires each council member to individually approve or reject all library policies dating back to Feb. 21, the mayor suggested that any proposed changes to any library policies will be given to the council during quarterly reports.

Then, the council will review and discuss the proposed changes before providing feedback to the board with the intent of coming to an agreement.

"What disappoints me the most about the last seven months is the lack of regard for citizen input," Kaminskas said. "Councilmembers can’t have their cake and eat it too – if you want citizen feedback, you need to listen to it. Don’t pick and choose what you hear."

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