Reflections On Fairness And Funding Of Our Public Library

Yesterday two of us advocates for a ballot measure that would provide continuing funding for our local Pomona Public Library had an encounter with our opposition. We didn’t intend for it to be an encounter; we hoped it would be a meeting. It turns out that an out of town organization, the Citrus Valley Realtors’ Association, is nearly certain to oppose the only means on the table to keep our library open. It is true that several of their members live and/or have businesses in Pomona. But most do not and their headquarters in the nearby City of Glendora. While they were unresponsive to our emails, we knew they were meeting and desired to discuss the issue, perhaps even be allowed to address their broad briefly before the meeting. Our hope was to dissuade them from opposing our efforts with the considerable financial strength of their organization.
We were met at the door by their Government Affairs Director who more or less politely informed us that their meeting were closed. This did not surprise us. Yes, I do know his name but this is not about him. As they say, he only works there. That said, he did seem to enjoy his job. I asked if we could briefly address the meeting before it started. Perhaps the Government Affairs Director didn’t understand my question; perhaps he did. In any case, we were subjected to a filibuster on “fairness.” His basic issue, stated repeated, sometimes at a couple of dbs above conversational level, and often while we were trying to respond, was that because some of the properties to be taxed (only $38.00 per year) were owned by members of his association and clients of the members of his association who did not live in Pomona it was unfair for those members and clients to be excluded from voting on the measure. No, he was not against a tax to fund the library. It was just the way we were doing it. At least that is what he told us.
I tried to interject, with many interruptions, that the ship on how we would fund the library had sailed and noted that his organization did not offer any alternative suggestions before the sailing. But now that the ship had sailed any opposition could sink the library and that losing the library would surely result in at least some lowering of property values negatively affecting homeowners, like the two of us, and that of some of his association’s members and their clients. The whole notion fell on deaf hears. The way we were doing it he said is “unfair” to those property owners who live outside our city and that therefore, library or not, the measure should be opposed. Weirdly, it seemed that he thought the even the two of us should oppose it for that reason. My colleague tried and, because of the ongoing filibuster, largely failed to get in a few words on the relative nature of “fairness.” Realizing that this was getting us nowhere, we thank him for his time and left.
Here’s the issue: the only funding mechanism available between now and when the library well surely be closed is the one on the November ballot, Measure X. The only question of fairness remaining for the members of the Citrus Valley Realtors’ Association and particularly those few who live or work in Pomona is, is it fair to deprive the kids and the adults of Pomona of a great public library simply to assuage the moral sensitivities of the absentee landlords they represented.