Date: July 26, 2011
To: CLA Membership
From: Paymaneh Maghsoudi, CLA President
Re: AB 438 Williams Update
A Letter to CLA Membership
AB 438 Update
As you know, CLA has been actively and closely monitoring AB-438 (Williams)
through its legislative journey. Several months ago, the CLA Board adopted a “Watch” position on the bill at the recommendation of the Legislative and Advocacy Committee and CLA lobbyists Mike Dillon and Christina Dillon DiCaro.
As originally introduced, AB-438 sought to require voter approval for the withdrawal of a city or library district from its county free library system if that withdrawing entity would then be managed and operated by a private contractor. The bill has strong support from the Labor Federation and SEIU—the union representing many library employees. The Chamber and California’s League of Cities strongly oppose this bill along with several other bills that would affect how cities manage their municipal affairs.
Since the introduction of the bill on February 14th, the CLA Legislation and Advocacy Committee and the Board have had several robust discussions. CLA absolutely believes that, under most circumstances, public libraries are a critical community resource that should be just that: public. Nevertheless, we also note that limiting local government’s ability to manage resources during the current challenging economic climate is almost certain to result in the reduction or elimination of library services. While many CLA members work for city governments that are actively opposing the bill, many CLA members are also members of SEIU or other local unions. We also recognize that employees of LSSI—the only private provider of library services in the U.S.—are CLA members.
Mike Dillon and Christina Dillon DiCaro, our tireless lobbyists, have worked diligently on our behalf to communicate the reasons for our “Watch” position to our colleagues and supporters on both sides of the bill, to monitor changes, and to provide information to legislators, committee consultants, and staff. In short, CLA has had a significant presence in the State Capitol relative to this issue, even though we maintain a “Watch” position.
The bill has been amended significantly in subsequent discussions and hearings (and more changes are likely. CLA, our lobbyists, the CLA Legislative Committee and the CLA Board will continue to monitor all changes relative to the legislation and will apprise the membership of the latest developments.
Therefore, the CLA Board affirms its “watch” position in acknowledgement of and respect for the diverse opinions of the CLA membership relative to AB-438 (Williams).