Saturday, April 10, 2010

Jones blasts library board at Ballantyne meeting

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library board should never have proposed closing half its branches last month, County Manager Harry Jones said today at a community meeting.

Instead, Jones said, the board should have been able to foresee from the start that a better solution would be the one it eventually passed, which keeps all libraries open for reduced hours with some layoffs to cope with a $2 million county budget cut.

"It was a decision they could have made initially without having to subject the community to the angst that they did," Jones told the Ballantyne Breakfast Club this morning.

Jones went on to criticize the library board over how it responded to public outcry after announcing its first plan to close 12 of the system's 24 branches and lay off 148 employees.

Jones said the board should not have told citizens to direct their complaints to the county board of commissioners when it was the library board that drew up the plan.

"They did not own the decision," Jones said.

Other highlights from the meeting, which was attended by city, county and CMS officials:

- Jones said the county is in danger of losing its top triple-A credit rating over its debt level and he is not recommending selling bonds for new construction projects in the next fiscal year beginning in July.

- Charlotte city councilman Michael Barnes said the city is not facing a budget crisis like the county, and said the city wants to ask voters this fall to approve bonds for transportation, roads and affordable housing.

- CMS Chief Operating Officer Hugh Hattabaugh defended the decision to adopt an earlier bell schedule for Hawk Ridge Elementary this coming fall, saying it will save the system $70,000 to $100,000.

- Doug Miller

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

And this ignorant scum Harry Jones has the right to critisize them for not being able to forsee something? Why didn't he "forsee" the 95 million dollar County shortfall? Why didn't his lackey, budget director, mouth piece Hyoung Yi "forsee" the 95 million dollar shortfall? I despise, absolutely despise, the fact that this dirty liar continues to hold his job. Where's Conservative Bill James on this? Where's Bill James when we need him most. Pouring over STD rates no doubt. Bill James is as gutless as the rest of the Commission to call a spade a spade.

Anonymous said...

After the fact Harry is covering his butt. Why didn't he state this upfront? FIRED HIM!!

Nope said...

Is this the same idiot that has missed the shortfalls by almost $170Million total for two years in a row? He received a bonus last year..is it going to be bigger this year because he's pucked up two years in a row. He needs to check himself into one of the learning community offices in CMS---at least he'd be in box with dimmer bulbs. Between himself and Gorman, the gene pool is in trouble.

Karen said...

The Board knew exactly what they were doing when they announced the closings of the library. They never intended to close the libraries, they wanted the angst and outcry and the public to step forward with their money. It's called spinning and as always the media fell right into it and ate it up. The shorting of hours/days was the intent the whold time.

Anonymous said...

"Jones said the county is in danger of losing its top triple-A credit rating over its debt level and he is not recommending selling bonds for new construction projects in the next fiscal year beginning in July."

Did Jones have ear plugs on when Bill James tried to pound this into the democrat-dominated Commissioners' heads, over and over and over? Now they discover this vulnerability?

I guess all the cards are maxed out.

Nope said...

It was a sham from the beginning. They wanted a public outcry and adopted a stupid plan that could have been done better by a fifth grader. It is an ever increasing ploy to set us up for a tax increase. Interesting that (I'm damn mad)Harry wasn't upset when Rodney Monroe's daughter was hired, Judge Yvonne Mims Evans daughter was hired, and tadah Mayor Foxx's wife was hired by DSS in March of 2009 for a $100K job that was posted less than a day. I bet that $75 per person buffer looks good to Jones right now. Govco/Paygo at its finest. To heck with the bond rating...don't borrow up to your eye balls.

Anonymous said...

ask the staff members who took a 5, 10 or 20% pay cut and the ones who lost their jobs if it was sham.

if you READ the meeting notes, you would know that the board made the decision on quality vs. quantity.

you may have your branches but there are no more services left.

this city needs to re-evaluate its priorities. the library is only one of 5 FIVE star library systems in America...who in their RIGHT mind would chose to destroy it.

tell Harry to give back his bonus so you can have programming. and check your facts...the county gives the library 85+% of its funding - so who is at fault for the budget?

any plan the libraries have is a vote by proxy by the county. they give the money and appoint the board.

Anonymous said...

Harry Jones foresight extends no further than the length of his nose. Any professional government manager, especially of a locality the size of Mecklenburg, should have used budget forecasts to begin cutbacks at least one or two years back. But, NOOOO, not Harry ... either because he's incompetent or didn't want the sour the Commissioners' view of budget conditions then because it might have cost him his big, undeserved bonus. To borrow an old, and perhaps not politically correct phrase in this instance, for County Manager to criticize the Library Board for lack of foresight, is "the pot calling the kettle black"!

Anonymous said...

THE LYING THIEVES, NEVER FOR ONE NANOSECOND, INTENDED TO CLOSE ONE D--BRANCH. ANYONE WHO SAYS OTHERWISE IS A LIAR OR AN IDIOT.RUSE,FARCE,DOWNRIGHT LIES,THE CROOKS WANTED A TAX INCREASE!

telamon said...

"Jones said the board should not have told citizens to direct their complaints to the county board of commissioners when it was the library board that drew up the plan."

This is the smoking gun that proves that me, and many other commenters, were right all along. This was about politics from the beginning.

Anonymous said...

Why can't people civilly make their comments without calling names and being so ugly? And we call ourselves the 'christian' south???

Anonymous said...

Why is no one reporting the fact that the County has told the library to plan to cut it's budget by 50% in FY11, from $35m to $17m? If you all truly think that no libraries were ever going to close, think again! 120 jobs were already lost, and more will be lost in July under this scenerio. Mecklenburg County is the wealthiest in NC, and gutting their 5-star library system is a disgrace!

Anonymous said...

A classic case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Anonymous said...

Mecklenburg County went on wild revenue projections and never once thought the false economy would end. The library system was over built...24 facilities. With budget cuts and fewer libraries maybe the cuts would not have to be so deep. A potential 50% reduction appears excessive. However, every school in Mecklenburg County has a library/media center. I know the high schools have computers available in the media center. The home school folks stand to loose big time but such is the price of autonomy. Harry Jones and his dopes are the ones to blame for this knee jerk reaction. Bet DSS doesn't take 25% hit. All about priorities.

Anonymous said...

Hey Harry, How about you donate that $37,800 BONUS that you got a few months ago to the Library.

Anonymous said...

Stop placing blame in the wrong places.

The mishandling of the library's affairs and the missteps of the Library Trustees and the misinformation regarding the County Commissioners were ALL THE DOING OF LIBRARY DIRECTOR CHARLES BROWN and his immediate staff.

Library Trustees don't know enough to name half the branches. County Commissioners are connected only in the sense of writing the check for these buffoons.

Stop placing blame where it doesn't belong and FIRE CHARLES BROWN and his direct reports.

Ghoul said...

And now Michael Barnes wants the city to put more bonds on the ballot. Why don't they call bonds what thy really are, a future tax increase.

Anonymous said...

Angst?? I was ready to throw a party thinking we had a group of politicians with the backbone to carve into a social service. Party postponed..

Anonymous said...

You know what they say projections are exactly just that. Some are well thought out. Some are pulled from the rear end. The ones from the rear end, the taxpayer suffers.

Anonymous said...

If this doesn't end his career, what will? Maybe a case of sexual harassment.

Anonymous said...

Can we get the jobs back? NO!!!! This is being used as an excuse to exact revenge on the employees who made the system 5-Star...not the pols nor the so-called leadership!

I pray for law suits to bring this out in public!
By the way Jones is correct, though negligent...

Anonymous said...

The only reason Harry Jones hasn't been fired, or given a vot of "no confidence" by this board of commisioners is because he's a negro. They'd have fired a white man by now, and the first one to bring it up would have been Bill James. Bill James, our Conservative hero would have hung a white County Manager out to dry but good by now. Where's Bill James? Where's Bill James when we need him? Studying STD rates no doubt.

Anonymous said...

Is this the same incredibly inept Jones that accepted FULL BLAME for the DSS debacle? WHY is this oaf still employed? Who does he have dirt on? Harry Jones should have been fired MONTHS ago, but is still employed and actually got a BONUS for his "perofrmance" last year!!!! I curse the TOTALLY gutless commission for allowing this continue. FIRE JONES IMMEDIATELY!!!!

Anonymous said...

The whole event may have been poorly orchestrated, poorly handled and poorly communicated to both the public and library staff, but the recent events at the library were not a ploy to raise taxes. It was (and remains) a genuine budget crisis. 120 people were let go, and those that stayed behind have salary cuts, after already going 2 years with no cost-of-living raises, furlough days and the end of matching contributions to employees 401k plans. Most library staff do not work for the library because they want to get rich off the taxpayer. They do it, and they remain here, because they believe in libraries as institutions and because they believe in the community that uses them. Ultimately it may be true that what you have here is Harry Jones and the Commissioners and Library leadership butting heads in a game of politics. This does not change the fact, though, that 120 people lost their jobs, library services were cut, hours were reduced, and this only gets us through June 30th, when we are being told by Harry Jones and the commissioners to expect a 50% reduction in our funding. Closing 12 library branches will, at that point, not be a choice. The library board could have perhaps come up with a better plan, but people should keep in mind that the county requested $2 million be returned to them from the library's budget, and fast, and the board and library administration had to react quickly, and assumed people would want full services at the libraries even if it meant fewer libraries. They mis-judged what the public wanted, yes. The public wants libraries close to them, but staffed with fewer people and with less services. Fair enough. But the budget crisis is real, and the situation the library is facing is real, and anybody who thinks it was a ploy to get the county to raise taxes... I'd like them to look my colleagues in the face who lost their jobs and say that. Harry Jones? No comment.

Booger said...

Anonymous 2:20PM,

You've recited the history well but I don't see a point in your long post.

The fact remains that the people and the staff at the library have lost confidence in the leadership. Harry Jones has his critics but the day to day operations of the library and every decision in this entire episode falls on Charles Brown and his core staff.

So Harry Jones isn't to blame. The Board of Commissioners aren't to blame. Library Trustees are kept (and largely choose to remain) in the dark. The library has a director who is supposed to take responsibility.

Most people won't blame the leadership for the loss of funds but the handling of everything from that point forward has been unprofessional and if that means consequences for 120 staff then there ought to be consequences among the elite as well.

Anonymous said...

A vote for Jim Pendergraph will keep Harry Jones in office! REMEMBER that come May 4th at the Primary's!

Anonymous said...

Tell us, why didn't the other billion or so municipalities and cities, counties "see this coming"? Because NOBODY did. Perhaps that's why there is a NATIONAL recession.

BTW, I'm a libertarian.

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