Wednesday, May 9, 2007

99. The Library Tax

This morning's top story on page A1 above the fold is the movement to enact a Library Tax for the Louisville Free Public Library system. A link to the story appears below. Several weeks back, we discussed this issue by way of an entry which re-copied the work of "Moderate Man" written in another blog, that of Paul Hosse's called Another Opinion. There are links below to both my entry on Moderate Man's comments as well as Hosse's blog entry with Moderate Man's comments called "Big Steps."

The proposal for a Library Tax and the resulting work from its receipts are big steps indeed and ones that should be taken. In fact, they are just the beginning of many that should be taken if Louisville is to ascend to the heights to which the mayor of Louisville-Jefferson Metro thinks we have already ascended. We haven't. Back in the 1980s, we made some strides with the help of state government - despite Senator Benny Ray Bailey's tutu comments - in building the Kentucky Center along W. Main Street, filling in the big hole that had occupied the northeast corner of 6th and Main for years. That was the second beginning of the revitalization downtown along Main, the first coming some fifteen years earlier when the late hotellier Mr. Schneider, working with mayors Schmied and Burke built the Galt House at 4th and River to complement the new Riverfront/Belevedere. (Some might argue that Schneider's buildings and decor, coupled with the placement of I-64 along the river wasn't progress and that point is well taken, and with regard to I-64's placement is strongly agreed).

Nonetheless the progress has continued here and there over the years, getting another big boost from former mayor Dave Armstrong, whose administration served as yet a third beginning, jumpstarting the movement of not just offices and entertainment to downtown, but people living in residences along the river, Main, Market, and other downtown thoroughfares. There has not been enough recognition of the great amount of work Mayor Armstrong did in the four short years of his mayoral term, from 1999 to 2002. The end of the long renaissance for the land now known as the Waterfront Park is in sight as the approaches for the Big Four Bridge are taking shape, and a high-end residential development is arising along the land once known as Thruston Park (land upon which some title issues linger but the forge ahead is indeed forging ahead, title issues notwithstanding). Passage of this proposal carries us even further along the path of conversion to a world class city.

Libraries and schools are very strong barometers for companies and people looking to make their homes along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. But, as with all things, someone must pay the bills. Since 1978, fewer and fewer of us have been paying the bills as anti-tax proponents have held forth, manipulating both politicians and voters into believing they could have something for nothing in a government. Now is the time to reject that sort of thinking and turn our attention toward our public amenities. One of the most important, if not the most important, is a library system. It is a road down which we have travelled before, only to be turned back by voters opposed to additional taxes. These same voters are opposed to most any progress which may cost them a dollar or two a week, progress which helps the whole community and not just themselves. It is a dollar or two well worth investing in Louisville's future. But, as always, the naysayers are out. Faye Ellerkamp has already passed judgment on the proposal saying her group of tax opponents will oppose this one as well. No particular reason was given other than the tax itself. This type of thinking came into vogue during the Me generation overseen by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. The time to think of Us again, as opposed to Me, has come.

I wholeheartedly endorse the new proposal and I am hopeful the community will as well. It is time to move Louisville's library system into the 21st century and on par with other cities of our class.


1 comment:

Nick Stump said...

I spent half my childhood in a small library in Hindman, Kentucky. My librarian was James Still, a very well respected writer in the 40's, (River of Earth) and in his day considered on par with and a friend of William Faulkner. Still never sought fame as a writer, preferring to live out in the country at a small cabin on Wolf Pen Branch. I don't believe, at the time, 50 people in Knott Country were really aware of what a great treasure we had in Mr. Still. He quietly lived his life and was always there to help guide an inquisitive child's thirst for books.

As time went on Mr. Still had more recognition and I was glad to see that. The last time I saw him was when I was playing music at the Hindman Settlement School. I went up to him, told him who I was, expecting him to remember me as the young student who had pestered him to death for 9 years. He asked me if it was my band that was playing. I said it was, and he looked at me and said, "Well, you're too damned loud." So much for fond remembrances.

The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.