Monday, June 6, 2016

The County Council, in the Library, with the Knife

Time on this is short (like, “they vote tomorrow” short), so I’ll be brief. 

The Cecil County Public Library has only ever reflected positively on this county with its commitment to the community, to literacy for all citizens, and to transparent and responsible financial practices. I hope that, at some point, we can say the same about our county government. That day has not yet arrived.

The library won national recognition last year for being one of the best library systems in the nation. It has also been one of the most patient, and we have needed a larger North East branch for years. Hopefully you have read Frances Bowman’s thorough piece on the issue. Read also this article to see where that discussion now stands with the County Council. Some of the same County Council members who were more than happy to pose for photos with library leadership last year (and bask in the glow of their recognition) now want to turn their backs on promised (and long-overdue) construction funds. 

After reading the article (and, presumably, keeping yourself away from sharp objects because you can’t believe that—yet again—some members of the County Council are playing reckless, last-minute money games), please take action now (like, “tonight” now):
  • Contact Dr. McCarthy (​) and encourage him to be
  • steadfast in his support of the library. Thank you for seeing the big picture, sir.
  • Contact Mrs. Bowlsbey ( and ask her to state her views on this issue--and encourage her to support the library.
  • Contact Mr. Hodge ( and ask him to stop with the snide political commentary directed at Dr. McCarthy (back in February, I predicted that a primary race between two of the council members might result in bad behavior by some of them—Mr. Hodge has apparently decided to start down that road). Also, perhaps you could kindly object to use of the terms “practical” and “frugal” to characterize what is happening in the Council’s budget decision-making. These poor (and again, last-minute) choices are neither practical nor frugal--and then ask him to support the library.
  • Contact Mr. Patchell ( and let him know that many of us (myself included) voted for him to end this kind of approach to county finances, and he should support the library.
  • Contact Mr. Schneckenberger ( and ask him to think with the future of our citizens in mind. His suggested cuts would only appease a narrow political faction in the county. They would not make Cecil County a better place to live or a more attractive destination for home buyers or businesses. He should also post publicly the “research” he claims supports his suggested cuts and explain, in depth, why his ideas are better for county citizens than the original plan over both the long and short term.
The county’s Strategic Plan needs to become what it was intended to be: the guide on how to approach priorities. Pitting public services against each other in this chronic “robbing-Peter-to-pay-Paul” dynamic is irresponsible and unacceptable.

Also, my hope is that, at some point, our officials will reflect on what their decisions say about them as people: if you view cutting taxes as your sole priority, and public schools and libraries are “expenses” instead of “assets” or “civic responsibilities,” are you truly acting as a public servant in these discussions? Is improving literacy education in our county a greedy goal? Perhaps the voices you're listening to are not the better angels of your natures. 

Cecil County will never be the place it could be if the county government continually attempts to fund it according to the way it used to be.

Ask the County Council to support the library.

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