Well, the City Council appears to have found a way for the Long Beach Public Library to maintain its current level of services, along with funding for a few other important beneficiaries like the El Dorado Nature Center and the Senior Center. Nothing is yet certain--a budget vote is possible at the September 4 meeting--but the way people are talking, it seems like things have been resolved.
The best thing that came out of this scare was the impressive coming together of Long Beach communities in support of these vital elements in what makes Long Beach a great place to live. The letters that were written to the City Council and the Mayor's office, at least the ones I read, were moving, serious and eloquent expressions. I believe the letters and calls were partially responsible for the recommendation to keep the libraries funded.
But another part of this whole thing kind of bothers me. It feels like maybe, and I have no evidence to support this, the city government was posturing a bit. I wonder if the cuts were really going to happen or if the threat was a way to make people recognize that we have a budget crisis, like every other municipality in the US right now. I guess it doesn't matter because it was important for the people to speak out and it was important for the City Council to hear it. There will definitely be future budget uncertainties and there will probably be more threats to library budgets in the next few years unless the economy starts to improve in a hurry. So this may have been good practice for us citizens to learn what it feels like to get together on an issue that is important to us, and hopefully make a difference. However, we cannot afford to be complacent.
Thus it was with great pleasure that I attended the first annual "Goodbye Summer" Pie Eating Contest sponsored by The Little Tart Bakery at the Wednesday Local Harvest Farmer's Market. Even though the current library funding situation may have been stabilized, we carried on with an event that benefited the Long beach Public Library Foundation. The scores of kids and families that came out to participate showed the strength of our conviction in support of libraries, as a community.
Little Tart Bakery co-owners Maria Kisska and Katie Jensen expertly hosted a raucous and hilarious contest, providing scrumptious, yet appropriately sized, pies for the kids to consume. Kids chose vanilla or chocolate. Guess which ran out first? Yes, chocolate. All proceeds from the $6 entry fee will go to the foundation. On hand at the contest was Long Beach Public Library Foundation board member Kay Tortorice, who was delighted with the turn-out. Councilman Gary DeLong also attended and was happy to welcome participants and kick things off.
All in all, the outcome of this week's events has been more than satisfactory. In fact, it has been delicious!