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After cutting $3 million from the library budget, DeKalb County commissioners are shocked -- shocked I tell ya! -- that neighborhood branches have to close.

On March 1, the DeKalb (GA) County Board of Commissioners rejected a tax hike and voted to cut $33.6 million from this year’s budget, including $3 million (22 percent) from the Public Library system. After learning from an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the neighborhood branch would close, the commissioners got all upset. They had no idea that slashing the budget would result in closing some branches and limiting hours at others.


Sekondi Landry, age 12 and a daily user of the facilities, started a petition to keep Scott Candler Library open. Landry, who was born with one arm, said he wanted to be like his "granddaddy," who grew up marching for civil rights.

Interim County Library Director Alison Weissinger said there is no option: on April 1, the library on McAfee Road will close and many of the other 22 county branches will see reductions in hours.

We have to move forward. Unless they give us more money,
I don’t know what else we can do.

The books and materials budget, which was $2.4 million in 2008, has been cut to $100,000 this year.

* Because of the cuts, the library system lost 50 staff positions (down to 240).

* Because of the cuts, no new books will be purchased.

* Because of the cuts, many newspaper and magazine subscriptions will be canceled.

* Because of the cuts, hours will be reduced at many branches, including cutting Sunday hours at the Wesley Chapel, Chamblee and Tucker branches. Four other smaller libraries -- Brookhaven, Embry Hills, Gresham and Lithonia-Davidson -- will now be closed on Fridays and Saturdays.

The commissioners are really upset. They don't think this branch should be closed.

“The budget committee did not recommend closing the [Candler] library and I think it’s a mistake,” Commissioner Larry Johnson said. “This is a high unemployment area and this is a resource for them to try and find some employment. If you want to close for 10 months, what are these folks going to do?”

Gosh, maybe the commissioners should have thought about these folks before slashing "unnecessary" items from the county budget.

But the Teabaggers were very proud of this victory in DeKalb, as noted by AJC conservative columnist, Kyle Wingnut Wingfield:

Taxpayers are a larger voting bloc, but before the tea party they were an amorphous — and therefore voiceless — group. Now that they are organized, they are electing people like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker who are willing to side with taxpayers over the unions — and people like the commissioners in Georgia’s DeKalb County who this week voted for layoffs rather than higher taxes.

It's not just the libraries; it's the courts, tax collections, schools, police academy. And each time, the commissioners have reacted with surprise and chagrin that cuts in services are being made -- "We didn't mean for this to happen!"

I hope the backlash against the Tea Party is swift and fatal.

Originally posted to sboucher on Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 08:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Kos Georgia and Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter.

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