Tonight’s city council agenda includes a vote on the naming of the new library opening soon in North Long Beach. We have two concerns regarding this vote.
First, the city’s libraries are community assets, not the ownership of a particular city council district. Just as the Aquarium belongs to all of Long Beach, so do libraries, parks, community centers, etc. The district in which a community asset is located is irrelevant. We need fewer fences. There must be no semblance of borders in our city.
Second, we are more interested in the process than whose name is placed on the library’s entrance. Ninth District Councilmember Rex Richardson recommended to the city council that the library be named after the nation’s First Lady, Michelle Obama. Councilmembers approved. How could they not for fear of being criticized? After the vote, Richardson then took the recommendation to the community for input.
It seems to us the process was backwards. First, go to the community – and not just the district’s residents – and ask for input from all citizens. Maybe all councilmembers should ask for input? Then, possibly, develop a short list of options for discussion and further input before the full city council.
Tonight’s vote will set a precedent that might create problems down the road. The city council’s time tonight may be better spent establishing a process for the naming of all community facilities. We would like to see the city council appoint a current city commission to oversee the process, conduct hearings and ensure that all residents have an opportunity to provide input.
Doesn’t that seem reasonable?