Minutes of the Regular Meeting of May 3, 2007

            (As amended and approved at the regular meeting of Thursday, June 7, 2007).

The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, May 3, 2007, in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.

President Higueras called the meeting to order at 4:38 pm.

Commissioners present:  Bautista, Coulter, Gomez, Higueras and Munson.

Absent:  Commissioner Chin (excused)

Commissioner Kane arrived at 4:41 pm.

President Higueras announced that Item No. 4 (Renewal of Library Preservations Fund) would be heard prior to the approval of the Minutes because of a possible loss of quorum.


An anonymous citizen said there were several issues regarding the previous closed session on March 2.  He said that many inflammatory comments were made at his expense.

Peter Warfield said there is a misleading name on this agenda for Item 4 Renewal of Library Preservation Fund. He said this is misleading because if it is not an exact duplication from Prop E in 1994, then it isn’t necessarily a renewal of the Library Preservation Fund.  He said this is an entirely new measure designed to look like a renewal of the Library Preservation Fund.

Betty Parcel from Visitacion Valley offered a correction to the April 5 minutes under the item for public comment to change the remarks by Russel Morine to read:  “Russel Morine, resident and small business owner in Visitacion Valley, spoke supporting consideration of the re-use of the supermarket building which was purchased by the city with the intention of demolition and construction of a new Visitacion Valley branch library on the site”.




City Librarian Luis Herrera explained that this item is requesting the Commission to adopt a resolution endorsing and recommending to the Board of Supervisors a measure for the November 7 ballot, replacing the Proposition E Library Preservation Fund with a new Library Preservation Fund for a proposed term of fifteen years.  He said it will authorize the City to issue debt repaid by the Library Preservation Fund.  He said Charter amendments for the November 7, 2007 ballot must be introduced by the Board of Supervisors by May 21.

Luis Herrera further explained that Library staff anticipates that Supervisor Peskin will sponsor the measure and at least six Supervisors must vote in favor to place it on the ballot.  He said the proposal also has the support of Mayor Newsom and once the measure is on the ballot it would only require a majority vote to be approved.  If approved, it would replace Proposition E.  He said that the Branch Library Improvement Program (BLIP) is currently facing a funding shortfall estimated between $44 and $52 million and library staff has been working with the Mayor’s Office, the Board of Supervisors, and the Capital Planning Committee to develop a strategy to close the gap.  He also said, in addition to funding solutions acted on by the Library Commission, it is recommended that in order to complete all of the neighborhood libraries that a portion of the Library Preservation Fund property tax be used to secure and repay debt financing.  Prop E has been instrumental in stabilizing the Library’s funding and it has very specific requirements.  It requires that funding be no lower than the budget for 92-93 FY.  It also requires that the main library and 26 branches be open for a specific number of hours.  He stated that Prop E will expire in 2009 if it is not renewed.  He explained that it is critical that the Library retain the dedicated funding and at the same time have the flexibility to complete the branch libraries.  He described the differences between the original Prop E and the proposed ballot measure as shown in his cover memo to the Commission.  


An anonymous citizen said that there are many down sides to this proposal, but the one virtue with this is in place, if the Friends and Foundation don’t raise $16 million, this might be the way to get rid of the Friends and Foundation.


Peter Warfield said he is concerned that the amended section was only available to the Commission at this meeting.  He requested that that language be read into the record at the meeting today.  He said the name of the proposal is very misleading and this is a totally new proposal from Prop E.   He said this will fund and shore up the deficit that currently exists for the Branch Library Improvement Program (BLIP) without accountability.  He asked that the Library Commission not pass this proposal.


Francesca Gessner, Deputy City Attorney said that copies of the language change that the previous speaker referred to are available to the public at the back of the room.


Sue Cauthen, Library Citizens Advisory Committee (LCAC), speaking for herself, said she was concerned about the rush to move this forward.  She said that the BLIP does need to be continued and that is important, but   the LCAC needs time to review this.  She is concerned that this might be a blank check for the Library.


Nancy Farese.  Chair of the Board, Friends of the San Francisco Public Library (Friends), said that after extensive research and due diligence analysis, The Friends maintain that this is the best solution to finishing the projects the Library began in 2000 and recommended support of the charter amendment.


Anne Wintrob, Friends’ Director of Communications and Advocacy, speaking on behalf of Executive Director Donna Bero, who is out of town, said the Friends are confident that this is the best possible option and urged the Commission to proceed expediently and decisively.  She said the Charter Amendment has received endorsements from members of the Board of Supervisors, State Assembly members Mark Leno and Fiona Ma, as well as State Senators Leland Yee and Carole Migden.  She said Donna Bero is in Washington, D.C. and has received enthusiasm from our national representatives as well.


Ben Rosenfield, City Administrator’s Office, explained the change in language to the Charter amendment.  The new language is a protection that says that the Library Commission recommends a revenue bond amount.  He said the Board of Supervisors and Mayor under the Charter are the ones that authorize that issuance. This is a protection that says the Board of Supervisors and Mayor cannot issue an amount greater than the amount recommended by the Library Commission.  He also explained that a revenue bond is backed by existing property tax revenue not an increase in property tax which would require a 2/3 vote.


Commissioner Coulter asked the Deputy City Attorney if she was comfortable with the language describing the item on the agenda. 


Francesca Gessner, Deputy City Attorney said she was comfortable with the language on the agenda.


Commissioner Coulter asked for further clarification regarding the possible use of these funds in the proposed Charter Amendment.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, explained that the priorities remain the collections, the service and the hours and they are listed as priorities.  This would also allow additional debt to complete the Branch Library Improvement Program (BLIP) but not at the expense of the other priorities.  The language in the amendment is to maintain, operate and construct and it would not affect the fundraising responsibility of the Friends.


Commissioner Coulter gave further background on Prop E and the role of the Friends at that time.  He said it was amazing that if this is adopted it would now be placed on the ballot by the Board of Supervisors with the support of the Mayor and that that is a credit to the work done by the Friends and the staff.  He said he is looking forward to supporting it.


Luis Herrera also spoke regarding the background on Prop E and said that this is a collaborative effort with many other City Departments.  He explained the requirement for public meetings in each of the Supervisorial Districts.


President Higueras said that the Library is fortunate to have an excellent staff, a fabulous partnership with the Friends, enormous support from the community and the users and of course with the Mayor and Supervisors.  He said he is very happy to support this Charter Amendment. 


Commissioner Bautista said that since many homes under Prop 13 are now being sold this will provide an increase in the property tax.


Commissioner Munson said that he supports the amendment but requested clarification on the set aside.


Ben Rosenfield, City Administrator’s Office explained that this will earmark a portion of property tax and would not be an increase in property tax level.


Commissioner Munson spoke further regarding his support of this process and the type of funding.


President Higueras read the Resolution into the record.


Mayor Gavin Newsom spoke regarding his support of the Resolution and said that we are currently undergoing a very ambitious Branch Library Improvement Program which will insure that the neighborhoods are fully engaged and empowered through their presence.   He said the General Fund has been supportive in the past, but, of course, there are many other obligations for the General Fund, so this action, if adopted, will provide a strategic way in the form of revenue bonds to support the Library.  He said that this is what he supports and believes in and while he understands that some people are opposed to the idea of set asides in general, he doesn’t think many people are opposed to the idea of set asides for libraries and that is why this is so complex.  He said that this will be taken to the voters in order to add an additional branch library, to look at increasing additional library hours, and to look at the districts as a way to do more outreach.  He said this is good public policy and satisfies the wishes of the vast majority of San Franciscans.  He said he wants to thank the team that has worked so hard to put this together and is thankful for the Commission’s leadership on this.


Motion: by Commissioner Bautista, seconded by Commissioner Munson, to adopt a Resolution urging the Board of Supervisors to submit a ballot measure to renew the Library Preservation Fund for fifteen years and authorize the City to issue debt secured by the Fund in substantially similar form to the proposed language attached hereto.  


Action:   AYES 6 – 0 (Bautista, Coulter, Higueras, Kane, Gomez and Munson)

Explanatory Documents:  Cover Memo, Resolution, Charter Amendment Language



An anonymous citizen said that his name was used in the minutes on page 3 and requested that that be changed.  He also said his comments under public comment relating to digital librarians replacing bricks and mortars’ libraries were the vision of a former City Librarian.  In addition, he said that his comments on page four were not properly reflected in the minutes.

Peter Warfield agreed that the anonymous citizen’s name should not be used in the minutes.  He also said his comments on page 5 regarding extended library service hours were more specific and strongly stated than shown in the minutes.  He said that more neutral phrasing such as said would more appropriate rather than editorializing.

Motion:  By Commissioner Bautista, seconded by Commissioner Munson to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of March 15, 2007, as amended to correct the spelling of Commissioner Kane’s name on the bottom of page 3; to take out the anonymous speaker’s name also on page 3; and to change the description of Peter Warfield’s comments on page 5 to use the word,”said” instead of other descriptive words.


Action:  AYES 6-0: (Bautista, Coulter, Higueras, Kane, Gomez and Munson)


Commissioner Gomez left the meeting at 6:24 pm.

An anonymous citizen said under the item for public comment, he did not speak regarding the historical power of the library; but about the power to create aristocracy.  He said his comments under Agenda Item #5 are completely a misdirection of his remarks.  He said Peter Warfield’s statement on the same item was misrepresented and that his point was that the Commission’s rationalizations on the point of discussion were preposterous.

Peter Warfield said that his comments on Item #5 were well expressed by the previous speaker.  He said he also made a comment about whether he would have to pay the Commission Secretary who had provided him with assistance, if she hadn’t already been officially hired.  He said that the Deputy City Attorney had said that the procedural error had occurred as an oversight, but since the anonymous citizen had stood up and gestured he said that he didn’t believe it was an oversight.


Motion:  By Commissioner Bautista, seconded by Commissioner Munson to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of April 5, 2007, as amended under Public Comment to change the remarks by Russel Morine to read:  “Russel Morine, resident and small business owner in Visitacion Valley, spoke supporting consideration of the re-use of the supermarket building which was purchased by the city with the intention of demolition and construction of a new Visitacion Valley branch library on the site” and to change the remarks by Peter Warfield under Agenda Item #5 to read:  “Peter Warfield characterized the process of the appointment as preposterous.”

Action:  AYES 6-0: (Bautista, Coulter, Higueras, Kane, and Munson)


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said that at the March meeting several Commissioners asked that an independent review be done of the Branch Library Improvement Program.  Since that meeting he has met with a number of City Departments and has drafted a memo to the City Controller asking for such a review and explained the scope of the review.

Peg Stevenson, Director City Services Audit Division, Controller’s Office, explained the role of her Division and said that they have experience in looking at bond spending programs.  She explained that the work will start immediately and will have a report around mid-June.

Edgar Lopez, Department of Public Works, spoke regarding escalating construction costs and said they were issuing a Request For Qualifications (RFQ) to consultants who can do cost estimating and scheduling.  He said they were also inviting contractors who have bid before to bid on these projects and they are emphasizing the importance and prestige of the projects at the pre-construction meetings.

Luis Herrera explained the schedule for the budget hearings at the Board of Supervisors.  He also talked about upcoming events and exhibits.

An anonymous citizen said that he has a copy of the City Librarian’s memo dated March 22, 2007, but that he is a little shocked that Peg Stevenson agreed with the memo because her memo 10 days earlier on March 12, said that the audit would delay the program and also discloses that the Friends and Foundation have also initiated their own audit.  He asked that the Commission look at what an audit is supposed to include.

Peter Warfield said that the question of the scope of the audit is something the Commission should have more input on.  He said that the scope could use some close examination.  He said that the branches with the highest earthquake rating were to be done first and 7 years later some of them have not been completed.

Pat Stevenson said there would be a written statement of scope and objectives.

She said there is a lot of flexibility on the issues that are reviewed.  They will look at things like timing, scale, escalation of construction costs, and delays.

Commissioner Kane said it would be good to look at the financials and past management practices to make sure we move forward in the best possible way.

Pat Stevenson said that the audit will include both financial and performance elements and will be more focused on the performance elements.  She said that the scope of work would be the same in an audit or review.  She said they are classifying it as a review.

Commissioner Bautista said that the way our bonds have been issued have always been above board and clearly explained.


Anne Wintroub spoke regarding the Library Laureates’ Dinner a few weeks ago, the theme was the Summer of Love and it was a wonderful event.  She said on July 28 and 29 Friends will be co-hosting with the San Francisco Public Library, the Mayor’s Office and Poet Laureate Jack Hirschman, the San Francisco International Poetry Festival and she said she hopes everyone will attend.

An anonymous citizen said that he is concerned about the public comment fund being used to ridicule him in public.  He said that the funds being raised for the naming of the Bernal Branch are funds which would be raised anyway.  

Peter Warfield said the new Charter Amendment has been prepared with the participation of the Friends and he asked what that role was.  He also said the Charter amendment does mention the Friends’ fundraising for furniture and equipment so he asked if this means a change in role of the Friends.  He said he had not heard any reports on the accounting for the funds raised and said that that might be something useful for the Friends to report.

Commissioner Bautista said that the Friends and Foundation publish their earnings and contributions every year and maybe the Friends could leave their brochure with that information in the back at Commission meetings for the public.

Commissioner Munson said he agrees with Commissioner Bautista and that the Friends have been very helpful and raised a lot of money for the Library and that the Commission is grateful.


Chet Roaman, representative of the Mission Branch Library to CNL, said he has been a member of CNL for over 7 years and that the CNL began over a decade ago in a community effort to fight against downgrading or closing neighborhood branches.  He said they have been very effective and he explained that they are an advisory board to the library.  He said they meet monthly and that they have been involved on community events at the branches.  CNL was the first sounding board for the extended hours plan.  He said that they have created the BLIP handbook which is a step by step tool delineating the sequence and the complexity of the renovation process for the members of CNL to use as a guide.  He said members of CNL also serve on the individual Friends Capital Improvement campaigns.  He said that CNL has recently started staff appreciation lunches at the branches immediately before they reopen.  They serve the entire staff lunch in the library acknowledging their efforts and cheering them on.  He said they have also identified the need for site specific information for each branch and are working on a brochure with separate designs for each branch.  He said the brochures will be available when the branches reopen.  He invited the Commission members to attend the CNL meetings on the last Thursday of the month at 4:00 pm in the Latino Hispanic room.

Peter Warfield said it was good to hear this report and he requested copies of the handbook be made available to the public.

Commissioner Bautista asked if the specific branch brochures would be available online.

Chet Roaman said once the branch is open the brochures will be available in the individual branch.

President Higueras said the CNL has done really important work in advising the library and they should be commended along with Mr. Roaman for his fine work


Andrea Grimes, Special Collections Librarian and officer of the Library Chapter of Local 1021, said there were new guidelines on limitations on items that can be brought into the library and that this will help to insure the safety and security of patrons and library staff.  She also said that the health benefits for temporary workers will go into effect in July.  She thanked the Library Administration for supporting this and said it has been a long time coming.

Peter Warfield said that he has supported union objectives in the past and he has supported a good working environment and good conditions including benefits for the staff.  He also said it was important that staff also feel and believe that they have those things and for that he thanked the Commission as well.

An anonymous citizen said that if there has been a change to the rules about admitting patrons to the library he was not aware of that change.  He said that he does support any measures that will improve security for patrons and staff but he does question whether it is true so he would like more information about the impact that this may cause patrons. 

Commissioner Bautista said she was glad that the Commission had passed the health coverage issue.

Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said he wanted to clarify the ongoing discussions on policies impacting public safety and said that these will be brought to the Commission when they are complete and will require Commission action on any actual policy changes.  

Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said that the guidelines that Andrea Grimes referred to were not a change in policy but actually a clarification of how staff implements existing policy.


There was no new business introduced.



There was no public comment on this item.

MOTION: by Commissioner Bautista, seconded by Commissioner Munson, to adjourn the regular meeting of Thursday, May 3, 2007. 

ACTION:  AYES: 5-0.  (Bautista, Coulter, Higueras, Kane, and Munson)

The regular meeting of May 3, 2007, of the San Francisco Public Library Commission adjourned at 6:57 PM.

Sue Blackman

Commission Secretary

Please note:  Copies of commission minutes and handouts are available in the office of the secretary of the San Francisco Public Library Commission, 6th floor, Main Library, 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102-4733.

Explanatory documents:  Copies of listed explanatory documents are available as follows:  (1) from the commission secretary/custodian of records, 6th floor, Main Library; (2) in the rear of Koret Auditorium immediately prior to, and during, the meeting; and (3), to the extent possible, on the Public Library’s website  Additional materials not listed as explanatory documents on this agenda, if any, that are distributed to library commissioners prior to or during the meeting in connection with any agenda item will be available to the public for inspection and copying in accordance with Government Code Section 54954.1 and Sunshine Ordinance Sections 67.9, 67.28(b), and 67.28(d).