Closing half-of-our-libraries is one of the most egregious insults Miami has ever faced. Many are in low-income areas which will really affect poor adults who rely on the library system for online access. According to the U.S. Census, almost half of Latin and Black households don't have internet access at home. Eighty-three percent of Miami-Dade is either Latino or Black. Is the mayor really so unaware as to not realize the importance of libraries? Libraries are also invaluable to children. This should feel and seem like common sense. And there has been an outcry from the public, and in the press, and it's working, and must continue, for it's critical to raise awareness of the importance of not-closing-libraries from as many platforms as possible. To the mayor's credit, he revised his budget plan to save six of the 22 libraries scheduled to close; although it will ultimately come down to an October vote, it appears they're working on it.
It's of course easy to kick-the-mayor, and the County Commissioners, who are probably more culpable than the mayor. But elected officials need to know closing libraries is unacceptable, yet in a reasonable tone, with balanced outrage and a need for an acceptable solution. Bringing up past botch-ups, like the Marlins-stadium fiasco, will prove counterproductive, as will bemoaning the salaries of elected officials and city workers. The reality here is officials have until October to figure it out. As of now, no libraries are closed. There will be seven Town Hall public hearings from now until the final budget vote; the mayor's not running, so let's engage him.
Let's keep applying the heat, but with an eye on solutions, not blame or anger.
What can they do? Besides from raising property taxes, what else can they do? Ask them. Can they tax hotels or car rental companies? Gasoline? Cigarettes? Didn't the Miami Dolphins just spend millions of dollars trying to get a roof for their stadium? Part of that plan did not include public funds. Can we use that for a blue print? Is it within the power of the Commissioners and mayor? Does a special election need to be called? Let's collectively think of solutions and all work together because we should not close one single library, in fact we should be opening more.
If you want your voice heard without attending a Town Hall:
This debate is just starting, Miami.