Mailbag: Readers decry aim to privatize H.B. library

Huntington Beach Public Library supporters attend a Huntington Beach City Council meeting.
Library supporters attend the Huntington Beach City Council meeting in which council members moved to accept bids for privatizing management of the city’s public library.
(James Carbone)

By voting to explore privatization options for our city’s beloved, award-winning public library, the tone-deaf conservatives on the Huntington Beach City Council have shown once again their true authoritarian colors. Despite receiving over 800 emails in opposition to the move and listening to 100 speakers object to privatization at the City Council meeting, the council voted 4-3 in favor of taking the next steps to outsource our library to profiteers.

Their request-for proposal process is just a formality because the city for the past few months has been quietly exploring a proposal from private, for-profit Maryland-based Library Systems & Services, of which former Huntington Beach Mayor Mike Posey is a sales executive. If this deal is inked, Huntington Beach taxpayers would turn over their money to wealthy out-of-state investors who have no interest in our community.

Our library costs only 1.8% of the city budget. It has a mere 29 employees and is supported by over 1,000 volunteers. Its Friends of the Library group donates over $300,000 for books and services. If a private corporation takes over, there will be no financial transparency. Our stellar library staff and services will be cut. Why would volunteers donate their time to make out-of-state investors rich while our library becomes a hollowed-out hub of a for-profit corporation? It didn’t surprise me that a longtime volunteer told me this week that if the library is privatized, she will stop volunteering and will not step foot inside the building again.


Carol Daus
Huntington Beach

I worked at the Huntington Beach Library for 32 years. From 2010 until 2020 when I retired, I was the senior librarian in charge of the children’s department. I hired the best of the best. I wanted to leave behind a devoted staff who loved the library and the community and would promote the love of reading as much as I did. Now I’m afraid that could all be lost.

Mayor Pro Tem Pat Burns stated when the outsourcing company, most likely LS&S, takes over running the library, the staff will still keep their jobs. What he doesn’t mention is all the employees will be laid off by the city and then rehired by LS&S. They will no longer be city employees, so their contributions to their city pensions will stop as will their city medical benefits. Employees will also suffer significant pay cuts. The LS&S equivalent to our library services assistant earns roughly $16 an hour, according to job listings on the company’s website. Kari Johnson, mentioned in the Daily Pilot article, is an award-winning storyteller and a library services assistant. LS&S librarian salaries seem to range from $22 to $25 an hour. LS&S makes money by paying its employees very low wages. It doesn’t give its full-time employees a pension but a 401K. It is known for having an extremely high staff turnover.

Most, if not all the Huntington Beach library staff will have to seek work elsewhere. As Laura Jenkins said in the article, a privatized library becomes a revolving door of workers. Why would our city, whose library has been awarded as having the best storytime in Orange County two years in a row, has a stellar literacy program and library staff who provide innovative children, teen and adult programs, want to do this to our public library? Council can claim they are saving the city money, but what are they losing in the process? Let’s not be penny wise but pound foolish. People’s livelihoods are at stake.

I also have no idea how the parent review board will work with LS&S, as this company will take over all book ordering decisions. How will H.B. taxpayers feel when the committee starts giving away the new books they reject to cities outside H.B.? Those books will have been purchased with H.B. tax dollars.

Barbara Richardson
Huntington Beach

I was disappointed with the results of the March 5 election. However, I feel that the work of Protect Huntington Beach provided hope for the future of of Huntington Beach. The work provided a higher level of citizen participation than we have seen in previous elections. Hundreds of ordinary citizens came down to the podium meeting after meeting to let the council know they disagreed with what the four conservative members were trying to do. Meeting after meeting we heard a new proposal, many of which were harmful to the city, from changing the invocation, altering the Human Dignity Statement and attacking the library system to settling a lawsuit regarding the air show, to name just a few.

Now on March 19 we again had two items on the agenda regarding the heart of this city, our library, which became a reality when citizens got together with the support of the council at the time. They made sure that we had the best architect and a system that had a well educated staff, community support with Friends of the Library and a library board. When the current council majority looked at the library, they saw a way of cutting costs and began a process that would literally be called “book banning.” On March 19 they voted on whether or not to hire a firm to determine how our library could be privatized. Over 100 speakers from all walks of life, from high school students to senior citizens, were articulate in their reasons why the city should not privatize the library. Several librarians spoke up against the measure. However, as with every council issue, the vote was 4-3, and the measure to study privatzation carried. Also the put forth the rules that the committee will follow when they review children’s books before they are purchased for the library. This was to make sure that our younger children are not exposed to “pornography”! This should be done by our well educated staff as well as the parents. Again, after much discussion, the vote was 4-3. I can only hope that with a continued questioning of what our council is doing, good governance will return. Protect Huntington Beach will not go away and the hundreds who support our work . We love our city and will do all we can to make sure it represents all of us.

Shirley Dettloff
former mayor
Huntington Beach

“Here they go again,” to quote a saying from the right-wing’s former favorite son, President Ronald Reagan. I say former because the new favorite is a certain ex-president who is currently under 88 state and federal indictments on suspicion of trying to overthrow the 2020 election. Now after voters just last week failed to checkmate their plans, the conservatives on the Huntington Beach City Council want to do what they most love to do after they cuts taxes for the wealthy: privatization.

Privatize a library? Why not? Conservatives would privatize a tree if they think they could wring a profit out of its sap. Speaking of sap, this is a sappy idea, but it won’t stop there. H.B., you had your chance to start turning back these autocratic conservatives, but apparently you didn’t bother to come out to vote last week. Here in Costa Mesa, we got fed up with conservative overreach a few years back, so we turned out to vote and sent the zealots packing before they could do any more damage to our moderate city. I now look back at some of the things they tried to do in C.M., and they seem rather quaint compared to today’s right-wing H.B. council.

Next up in November is the general and presidential election, which includes all of Congress and a Senate seat here in California, but even larger things will be at stake in this next election. Abortion and contraception rights, voting rights, LGBTQ+ rights, healthcare, Social Security, Medicare and all of our other rights are under assault by theocrats and would-be fascists seeking to change forever our American way of life.

Please don’t sit idle and allow it to happen. Conservatives even have a playbook for this cycle, ready to enforce if they win, and they’re calling it Project 2025. If what they are planning doesn’t terrify you, or you think they’ll never be able to pull it off, think again. Germans thought the system could restrain Nazism and looked what happened. Now to be clear, I’m not saying the worst horrors of Nazi Germany await us. I view it more directly to how Viktor Orban has slowly transformed democratic, formerly Communist Hungary into once again having its democracy reduced to an autocracy with strongman rule, democratic rights abolished and the media and the justice system now fully stacked with pliant sycophants, and Orban permanently ensconced in power. It can happen here as well if we don’t exercise our greatest power, our right to vote.

This is “Not A Drill” friends, this is deadly serious, and I don’t say that as a cliche. People will die under the policies MAGA wants to bring to this nation, and our way of life will drastically change. They are even pining for a second civil war in America, as if it would be no big deal, and of course, one they win this time. I for one do not want to see what that looks like, and I hope you do not either.

Mike Aguilar
Costa Mesa

Let’s talk about bad driving

A typical letter in the Daily Pilot responds to an article in the paper . Once in a while a letter is based on another letter . B. Friedland from Costa Mesa had a letter published in Sunday’s issue (Time for some trash talk, Mailbag, March 17) having to do with trash at his local gym’s parking garage and people’s disregard for just about everything.

That got me to thinking about the same subject (people’s behavior) in relation to how people have been driving in the last few years. Statistics show that pedestrian deaths due to being hit by cars are at the highest level in 41 years, up 77% since 2010. People for whatever reasons are driving faster and more distracted than ever before, presenting dangers to people walking, joggers, skateboarders and those on bikes. Aside from people breaking speed limits on neighborhood streets and those same people texting while driving, I’ve observed people who make right turns on red lights without even slowing down, let alone stopping, people who tailgate for no apparent reason and who make turns sans using their turn signals.

Up until about two weeks ago I was going to physical therapy sessions due to having knee surgery six months ago with the sessions ending due to the knee doing well. I had to drive north on the 55 freeway for about 3 miles before turning off. In those short 3 miles I observed at least three cars also heading north in the fast lane going at an estimated speed of close to 90 mph with apparently not a care in the world as they sped by me. Last Saturday I went to a family outing in Fullerton and drove the 55, 22 and 57 freeways and witnessed at least eight of those warp-speed drivers passing me like I was standing still, and I drive a Corvette.

The last line in B. Friedland’s letter went like this: “Why do they feel it is OK? How selfish and narcissistic do you have to be to do that?” Friedland’s letter had to do with trash, whereas my observations and remarks deal with people’s driving habits that end up with someone possibly dying. So again, why do they do that, and is there a way to curtail their deadly behavior on the road?

Bill Spitalnick
Newport Beach