While all eyes were focused on Tuesday night's presidential primaries, lots of other state and local elections were happening. And while the Koch brothers have decided, so far, to sit out the presidential nomination process, they had their grubby golden fingers all over the place. Like in the referendum for a new public library building in Plainfield, Illinois. Here's what the referendum was about:
The library is currently an anchor for downtown and is a much-loved and heavily used part of the community. They are asking for a 20-year bond and a small increase in property taxes. The end result will be a brand new library that is three times larger than the current library, still in downtown, and will feature new technology, public meeting spaces, classrooms, and more space for books DVDs and other materials for the community.
The Plainfield Library came up with this after years of focus groups, surveys, and public town meetings. The leadership of the library worked closely with community leaders and stakeholders to create a comprehensive plan that would give them cutting edge library services in ways that the community values. This is good old American democracy in action, a public institution needs an update, the community gets involved, a shared vision is formed, people move forward. That is how America is supposed to work.
So of course the Kochs’ most invasive arm, Americans for Prosperity, had to step in, because FREEDOM!!! They never met a tax increase for the public good they didn't have to destroy, like the Columbus Zoo funding referendum a few years ago. They killed that—and they helped kill the Plainfield Library, too.
They ran anti-library robo calls (seriously, anti-library!) and they won. Not only will Plainfield not get the new library building, but "a 20 percent cut to services and programs will be needed to keep the existing building functional in the long term." So the Kochs have truly won. No new building, and the current one will suck 20 percent more, proving even local government doesn't work (unless it's funded).
Don't ever forget this: There is no level to which the Kochs will not sink and they most certainly want to change the face of America, from the local public library on up. Jane Mayer, who wrote the book on these guys, says it best: "Where the influence of money goes so much further, and what people who are interested in this need to take a look at, is the lower levels: the state and even local elections. […] It's a comprehensive system to change America. So presidential politics certainly is the splashiest arena, but it's not actually the place where they have the most influence."