Referendum Demands The Whole Truth About The Library


Years ago, the late Sen. Patrick Moynihan said: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

Making up one’s own “facts” – by editing or manipulating accurate information, or by fabricating information out of whole cloth – has been an especially pernicious problem in government, where it often seems like the bureaucrats and politicians are brazenly trying to mislead the very people they’re supposed to be representing and working for.

In the world of government and politics, truth is usually a scarce commodity.

The recognized benchmark in this country for getting at the truth is the oath by which a person swears to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. To many people these seem to be redundant pledges, but all of them are essential to the task of truth-seeking because they each play a separate but important role.

“The truth” is an accurate factual account of what the witness experienced. “The whole truth” means not leaving out any relevant material facts above and beyond the core “truth.” And “nothing but the truth” means not including any untruths in addition to the whole truth.

A fairly recent article in the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate (“Park Ridge library chief: Fees for DVDs, activities aren’t answer for budget cuts,” June 27) illustrates how the public can be misled when public officials don’t provide the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth – especially when the reporter is unfamiliar with the substance of what he is reporting and doesn’t adequately investigate.

The article basically parrots information released by the Park Ridge Library in the form of two reports intended to demonstrate that charging certain types of user fees would not generate enough net revenue to make it a worthwhile undertaking. The two reports in question – the June 12, 2014 “Library Revenue for DVDs and Video Games” report, and the June 13, 2014 “Fees for Programs” report – contain enough deficiencies that we have identified the more flagrant ones with annotations that should be self-explanatory.

The first report violates the “nothing but the truth” test in several respects. Item C, for example, raises a question of discrimination based on the means/needs of users, even though the Library staff has never attempted to ascertain the means/needs of its patrons. Similarly, Item D suggests a “trickle-down effect” of the Library on Uptown businesses, even though the Library staff has never attempted to quantify the amount of revenue, if any, Library users generate for Uptown merchants ancillary to their Library usage.

The second report, on the other hand, contains several violations of the “whole truth” requirement. Items 1 through 4 fail to mention that the Library’s revenue calculations based on a universe of 182 programs ignores the fact that the Library actually offers over 900 programs, for which it isn’t even considering trying to generate revenue from more than 700 of them. In other words, the report’s attendance and revenue projections are rigged to reflect a mere 20% of the potential program revenue that might be generated if all programs were included.

And, as with the other report, this one asks (at Item 6) whether attendance will decline if any fee at all is charged – without addressing the question of how the Library can justify committing its limited resources to presenting programs so bereft of value that attendees won’t even pay a $1 admission fee.

Another “whole truth” missing from both reports is that the Library Director and a majority of the previous Library Board voiced such strong philosophical objections to charging user fees that they preferred to see the Library dark and shuttered for 14 Sundays this summer rather than charge modest user fees for such things as program attendance and log-ins on the Library’s computers.  And we pointed out in our 04.14.14 and 05.29.14 posts how those summer Sunday closings proposed by the Library’s senior staff were a political, rather than a facility/budget management, decision.

The 62,414 computer log-ins during FY2013-14 would have raised over $60,000 at just $1 per log-in. Even if one-half of those users were to choose to waste their time and gas money driving to the Des Plaines or Niles libraries to avoid paying that $1 fee here in Park Ridge (where the Kinko’s on Northwest Highway charges $18 per hour for computer usage), the remaining 31,207 uses would still have generated enough revenue to have covered the cost of this summer’s Sunday operations and half of next summer’s Sundays.

The same result might have been achieved by charging as little as a $1 admission fee for ALL Library programs, for which attendance hit a five-year record of 30,213 during FY2013-14.

Unfortunately, all that fee revenue information was missing from the Library’s two reports and, therefore, from the H-A story.  And that kept the H-A story from telling its readers the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about user fees and how they could have been used to make the Library more accessible to the community this summer, and better overall.

As the Library gears up for its first referendum in 12 years – this November, to raise property taxes to maintain the current level of Library materials and services, and to restore some materials and services that were cut in recent years for budgetary reasons – taxpayers should demand the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth when considering the information that will be disseminated relative to that referendum.

Because, as Thomas Jefferson understood: “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.”

To read or post comments, click on title.

15 comments so far


Thanks for providing the links to Ms. Van De Carr’s memos. As I read those memos, I became more and more irate. In the private sector, a senior manager would be fired for producing reports of this (poor) quality.

Regarding the Sunday closures – in the private sector when a manager is confronted with a reduced or frozen budget, he/she prioritizes the projects, programs, etc. and funds the higher priorities and postpones or cancels the lower priorities. According to the usage metrics, Sunday hours are a high priority to the users of the library. Making a decision to close on Sundays would seem to be a violation of Ms. Van De Carr’s (and the board members who voted for it) fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers. A manager in the private sector would be fired for defunding the high priorities in order to preserve lower priorities. I hope that this is taken into account when Ms. Van De Carr’s annual review or performance appraisal is done.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In fairness to Ms. Van De Carr, her recommendation to close summer Sundays was endorsed by the then-majority of the Library Board, whose members apparently shared her management philosophy and priorities – unlike the new Board majority, at least when it comes to the Sunday closings.

Closing the Library makes it worthless for that day. I don’t see how that decision ever made sense to anybody, if serving the public is what the Library staff is supposed to be about.

Kudos to the Library Board for coming to their senses and reopening on Sundays!

Also from the H-A, the referendum itself:

“Shall the annual library tax for maintenance and operation of the Park Ridge Public Library be increased from .150 percent to .368 percent for the levy years 2014 through 2017? For the 2013 levy year, the city used its home rule power to levy a tax equal to .290 percent. Therefore, for the 2014 levy year, the .368 percent rate would result in approximately $20.76 of additional tax for every $100,000 in property value equating to $87.58 of additional tax for a single-family resident with a fair market value of $421,800.”

Are Dick Barton and Mel Thillens busy printing up yard signs and car magnets that say “it’s only $87 per year”?

Yes to Libraries, No to Higher Taxes.

EDITOR’S NOTE: To our knowledge no group of private individuals has stepped up to run a referendum campaign for the Library. Maybe that’s another sign of community priorities. Or not.

Monitoring the Library’s Facebook page. They are announcing everything under the sun, EXCEPT the fact they are reopening on Sundays. Things that make you go, “huh?”

EDITOR’S NOTE: But the re-opening Sunday July 27 is announced on the Library’s website.

This only reinforces Mel’s problem. Will he support more funds for the library, not support it or (my bet) say nothing?

If he says nothing or is against it, it only further demonstrates he spends taxpayer dollars so long as it is something HE wants.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The most important point you seem to be missing is unrelated to “Mel’s problem” – or to Mel, for that matter. It’s that a vote for Moylan is a vote to preserve a majority of Dems in the Illinois House and, therefore, to keep Mike Madigan in control as Speaker.

If you’re okay with Madigan remaining in control of this state for another two years, just say so. But don’t play this “it’s about Mel” charade, because it’s only about Mel if it’s about the Park District – and Mel hasn’t announced whether he’s even running for re-election to that position in April 2015.

I feel better now. I was thinking maybe they were still playing games.

Still, you would think the news would have made it to its social media site by now.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Social media isn’t a concern of ours, and Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t need our support to get richer.


I am not at all missing that point. I have never missed that point…..even before you began mentioning it at every possible moment.

That does not mean that I will ignore or stop pointing out the complete hypocrisy of Moylan’s opponent.

The election for this seat is nothing but crap. If you are a progressive they will tell you that you have to vote for Moylan, even though he voted yes on SB1, which (as you pointed out) they never even read and which will prove to be overturned in courts. If you are a conservative they will tell you that you have to vote for Thillens, even though he has been anything but “conservative” related to the pools and the park land.

Either way, hold your nose and vote!!!!

EDITOR’S NOTE: No, you still DON’T get it.

This isn’t about “progressive” v. “conservative,” or about “liberal,” or “reactionary,” or “socialist,” or even “Scientologist.” This isn’t about Thillens’ and the Park Board’s screw ups and boondoggles with “pools and the park land.” This is about the evils of poltical CORRUPTION as practiced by the Democrat-controlled Illinois House – dominated by Speaker Madigan, the Prince of Darkness – for 30 of the last 32 years.

And this is about Moylan being a guaranteed vote for Speaker Madigan, and Thillens likely not.


EDITOR’S NOTE: How original. Do you have that on a t-shirt, too?

Why does the library offer over 900 programs? Does that include movies as well as lectures, stories for kids, etc.? I agree with your point that if it has any value at all you should be able to charge for it, but it does not sound like Ms. Van De Carr or the Board majority sees it that way.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Because getting people in the door of the Library by giving away something for free is the easiest way for Staff to increase patron numbers and argue that the Library is an even more valuable asset that deserves even more taxpayer dollars. That’s the same reason Staff is content to base the Library’s attendance figures on simple ins-and-outs: how many times the door clickers count somebody entering and exiting the Library.

Staff doesn’t care that such attendance figures are almost worthless because they don’t track the ins-and-outs of UNIQUE individuals. Consequently, if ONE PERSON shows up at 9:00 a.m., goes outside for a smoke break at 10:00, goes across the street for coffee at 11:00, leaves for lunch at 12:30, goes out for another smoke break at 2:00, goes out for coffee or a lemonade at 4:00, and then leaves for the day at 5:00, he/she is counted the same as if SIX individuals visited the Library that day.

Which is why the Library reports 35,000-40,000 “visits” each month on its bar graph report (it used to call them “visitors” – as in UNIQUE people – until this editor complained about that being misleading), although it still attempts to mislead the public with its “Daily Statistics” report in which it uses the term “# people using the Library.”

Originality is overrated. If the perfect comparison already exists why reinvent the wheel??

EDITOR’S NOTE: Apparently so is stupidity.

What…no comments by Laura Enright either about this post or about the latest news that the Library will be reopening for the remainder of the summer Sundays? No “thank you” from her to the new library board for giving her and her fellow PT library employees their Sunday hours back? Do all those cats have her tongue?

I guess this an aside to all that came before in the above comments but it would appear that there is need for new leadership for the library. We’re now being told that the library entrance is in need of repair as well as flood lights which of course will come out of our pockets in some way or form and the cost of those repairs can be added to the roof that was so dramatically understated. The roof that sheds snow and ice over patrons as they drive or walk through the parking lot in the winter time, The same roof that nobody at the library had the sense to inquire about the possibility of installing ice hook or heat tape on the roof or in gutters. Not to smart.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Whether the problems with the steps and/or the flood light installations were the product of faulty or non-existent inspections by City officials is not yet known. The roof design and replacement, including the estimates and bidding, were the responsibility of the Library’s “new” (3-year old) architect of record: Green + Associates. This editor was the sole vote against Green + Associates.

I guess this an aside to all that came before in the above comments but it would appear that there is a need for new leadership for the library.

We’re now being told that the library entrance is in need of repair as well as the flood lights at that entrance, which flooded, which of course will come out of our pockets in some way or another. But what the heck the stairs and lights are seven years old so obviously that must be the reason for the needed repairs because it obviously couldn’t be the fault of city or the library board.

So the cost of those repairs can be added to the roof repair costs,that were so dramatically understated,although that cost was applicable to a prior year. The same roof that sheds snow and ice over patrons as they drive or walk through the parking lot in the winter time and which is just waiting to cause a major lawsuit that the city will be hard put to defend, The same roof that nobody at the library had the sense to inquire about the possibility of installing ice hooks or heat tape on the roof or in gutters to alleviate or eliminate the problem. But what the heck the stairs and lights are seven years old so obviously that must be the reason for the needed repairs because it obviously couldn’t be the fault of city or the library board.

But somehow it’s just not fair to charge patrons for computer time or dvd’s and so on and so forth. What’s wrong with users of the services offered paying for those services? The park board has no problem with it.

O fare thee well.

EDITOR’S NOTE: See EN to your previous similar post.

The lawsuit you fear, however, would appear unlikely, given the lack of any such lawsuit over the past 50 years when the basic configuration of the roof and features were the same as the current version.

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