Melina Kennedy released the following statement on the proposed closing of the library branches. Also, she uses the opportunities to call on the Mayor for more transparency.
Combined with Brian Williams' continued pounding of the Mayor on the Water Utility Transfer, it's clear that the two front-running Democrats running for Mayor are demanding answers from Mr. Ballard.
Here is the release from Kennedy:
“Like the people of Indianapolis, today I was relieved that the Mayor finally came to realize how important these six libraries are to their neighborhoods. I was at the meeting on Monday night. In nearly every place I have visited over the past month or so I have been listening to our neighbors plead that we not close these vital neighborhood resources.
I know Indianapolis faces tough fiscal times like every other city in America, and that government needs to re-think its priorities and cut back in some places, just like families are doing every day. But let me be clear. Libraries are not a temporary priority but a permanent one for me. I will fight against closing libraries on my watch when I am mayor.
I understand that not every priority can be met, not every need can be fulfilled, and the next mayor is going to have to make some difficult decisions. But the one thing that can’t be done is to cut the heart right out of our city. And for me, the library system is part of what makes Indianapolis a vibrant city. The neighborhood libraries in Fountain Square, Glendale, Brightwood, West Indianapolis, Flanner House, and Spades Park are some of the most important centers in our community. We cannot close them.
Our public libraries are one of the rare institutions in society where every resident can benefit, from the toddler learning how to read, to the senior who is looking for a good book and good company. And libraries can even play a role in helping improve our economy: Our neighbors go to the library to search for employment opportunities, to find ideas, to enhance their knowledge base. To close libraries is completely counterproductive in the short and long term for our city’s economic well being. We should be finding ways to expand their reach in our neighborhoods, not diminishing them. When I am Mayor we will do just that.
I call on Mayor Ballard to open up the books. I call on the Mayor to explain how it is he has $170 million more than he said he needed to run this city, continues to raise fees and taxes, but until a loud public outcry, he stayed silent about the potential closing of libraries. I call on the Mayor to acknowledge that solving the library problem is at least as important to our community as the negotiations with the Indiana Pacers - not just in the short term, but for the long term.
Our neighbors are hungry for leadership, hungry for assurances that their library will remain open. Let me assure everyone that with me, they will remain open, that they are a permanent priority, not a temporary one.”