On the Agenda
This showed up on the agenda with no explanation or description, a common tactic President Robert Judge has used when he anticipates an item will be unpopular with the public. However, our research indicates that President Judge may be in violation of LA Open Meetings Law R.S. 42:19 (bb), which states, "Each item on the agenda shall be listed separately and described with reasonable specificity. Before the public body may take any action on an item, the presiding officer or his designee shall read aloud the description of the item except as otherwise provided in Subitem(dd) of this Item."
We won't know, of course, what Mr. Judge has in store for this particular item, but whatever it is, public comments should mention the fact that his description DID NOT give the public "reasonable specificity." Without any explanation beyond a title, there is no way members of the community could possibly be expected to inform themselves about the issues at hand or prepare in any meaningful way for the meeting.
A. Library Book Discards - This is a regularly scheduled part of library business. Some board members (Stephanie Armbruster, in particular) have asked many questions about this process in the past few meetings; i.e. why the books are discarded, how they are chosen, what is done with them afterward, etc. It's quite possible she, or another board member, will do the same again.
B. Setting Millage Rates - This month the Parish Council will be voting to set the millage rates for the upcoming year. The Board of Control votes on recommendations to give the Council regarding those rates. They will be voting based on information given to them from library administration. The documents for this discussion can be found HERE and HERE.
C.Out of Parish Card Policy/Bayouland - This is a re-vote of an earlier vote from March, 2022 which was invalidated when it was discovered that the Board had passed agenda items without having the required minimum number of "yes" votes. It institutes a policy for residents of other parishes within the Bayouland Reciprocal Borrowing Agreement, requiring them to pay $20 per year (previously free) in order to get a library card, unless they work or go to school in Lafayette Parish. This is out of step with most of the other libraries in the Bayouland Consortium, has not been shown to raise significant (or really any) revenue for budget purposes, and was met with overwhelming public opposition when it was last up for discussion.
D. NE Committee Report - This is a vote on the recommendation from the Northeast Library Committee, which voted last month to recommend that the Board begin the process of going forward with one of the RFP's which had been submitted through the public process begun this spring. The committee voted to recommend the site near the under-construction Infinity College, across from Northside High School on Louisiana Avenue. The Board may choose to accept the Committee's recommendation, and move ahead with the process, or reject the Committee's recommendation, at which time the RFP process may start over again.
Comments From the Public On Any Matter Not On This Agenda
The big matter at hand this month is obviously the ban on displays put in place at the end of May by library Director Danny Gillane. As reported in The Acadiana Advocate, Board Member James Thomas attempted to have the issue added to this month's agenda, only to be turned down by President Robert Judge. This is in direct violation of the Board's own bylaws, which clearly states in Article 4, Section 3 that "Board members shall also have the right to place matters on the agenda and should notify the Director of additional agenda items or agenda changes at least one day prior to the scheduled meeting."
Our ask this month with regard to the displays is two-fold. First, a mention that what President Judge did was WRONG according to his own governing bylaws, and second, asking Director Gillane once again to please rescind the ban. Libraries are COMMUNITY resources, and should therefore reflect and highlight all members of the community.
I won't go into a lot of detail here about the display ban itself, as we've covered it pretty extensively in other places. You can read our official statement HERE, as well as our coverage of the initial policy announcement and fallout HERE. Right on our homepage you'll also see links to much of the extensive media coverage we've been tracking, as well as a listing of statements we've gotten from civic leaders and organizations condemning this ban.