Minutes of the Regular Meeting of December 3, 2009


As approved at the regular Commission meeting of January 21, 2010


The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, December 3, 2009, in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.


The meeting was called to order at 4:38 pm.


Commissioners present: Del Portillo, Kane, Lee and Munson


Commissioner excused: Ono


President Gomez arrived at 4:40 pm.


Commissioner Chin arrived at 5:25 pm




An anonymous citizen said former Commissioner Coulter broke in new Library Commissioners and there is a difference between those Commissioners and the newer Commissioners.  He said he used a technique of disenfranchising the public.


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said he was happy to see a new microphone for the public.  He said in June the Library Commission silenced a member of the public, which the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force (SOTF) found not only illegal but a willful violation of the law.  He said the SOTF voted unanimously on Tuesday to send the violation to the Ethics Commission for enforcement.  He said the SOTF also added an additional violation for failure to appear at meetings of the Task Force itself.  He said he is concerned about the Commission’s inaction on the item.


Sue Cauthen said she is the person who was prevented from offering public comment at the June 4 meeting.  She said she was shouted and screamed at.  She said she asked for a meeting with the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Commission and never heard back.  She said it is important that the public be treated with respect and politeness.  She said she is sorry the Commission has not addressed this issue.      




Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian said the first report would be on the impact of the FY 09-10 Budget by recent revenue estimates provided by the Controller’s Office in mid-November.  


John Doidge, Chief Financial Officer, said property taxes are significantly less than proposed in the current budget.  He said the impact on the Library from the General Fund was projected at $42,240,000 and the estimate is now $41,510,000 so that is a $730,000 shortfall.  He said the Library Property Tax Set-Aside was projected to be $37,384,000 and is now estimated to be $35,992,000 or a shortfall of $1,392,000.  He said that projects a total of $2,122,000 shortfall for the current fiscal year. 


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said the goal is to close the shortfall gap by June while preserving the Library’s current service levels.  She said they will be identifying operational efficiencies; maintaining a select number of vacancies that have been frozen; reducing collection spending in select areas; and tracking the revenue situation.  She said they will present more information to the Commission in January when the first discussion about the 2010/11 fiscal year budget will occur.  She said the Library has made Public Safety a priority in the last few years in working to develop partnerships with other city agencies in order to insure a safe and welcome environment in our libraries.


Kathy Lawhun, Chief of Main, said SF First is the San Francisco Fully Integrated Recovery Services Team, which is a Department of Public Health (DPH)/ SFPL Collaboration, which includes the Homeless Outreach Team or HOT.  She said in July – December, 2008 there were 2 SF HOT Case Managers stationed part time at the Main with outreach teams on perimeter early mornings and evenings.  She said from January – June 2009 there was 1 Social Worker full time at the Main and 2 Health and Safety Associations part time stationed in restrooms.  She said there were outreach teams on perimeter early mornings and evenings.  She said there has been a reduction in the number and severity of incidents within the Main.  She said there has been increased satisfaction of staff on how incidents in the Main are being handled.  She gave social worker statistics for patrons assisted.


Brian Bannon, Chief of Branches, said there are three projects they want to report on today including the Main Green Bench the Noe Valley Garden and the Mission Garden,.


Roberto Lombardi, Facilities Director, described the green bench project on the Fulton Street near Larkin.  He said they are trying to improve the area and showed some proposals for the project and the types of plants that may be used.


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said one of the reasons for doing the green bench project is related to the Library’s public safety plan.  She said this area becomes a large gathering place.  She said one of the goals is to break up the bench and to encourage smaller groups or individuals to use the bench.  She said it is also quite lovely.


Brian Bannon, Chief of Branches, said the outdoor space at the Noe Valley Branch had fallen into disrepair and some members of the community approached the Library with the idea to tie into some of the Green programs and to revitalize the garden.  He showed some photographs of the work being done on the garden. 


Lia Hillman, Potrero Branch Manager and Interim Children’s Room Manager at the Mission Branch Library, showed photographs of the Mission Branch Garden.  She said they were able to build a 40’ planter bed.  She said the objective was to build a teaching garden accessible to all ages.  


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said it appears that the motivation under the City Librarian’s report is to group items together that should be handled separately.  He said the budget report represents an enormous number of policy issues about how the reserve is going to be handled. 


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said it would be more appropriate if these items were heard separately.  He said the revenue reduction is a problem and meanwhile the bond program is going along with scope expansions, while staff and books appear to be getting the ax.

He said he understands those are separate funds that aren’t necessarily transferrable.  He said some of the greening projects sound nice but there was no public participation on the Main Green Bench.


Commission Discussion 


Commissioner Lee said he appreciates the way the City Librarian’s report is given.  He asked about the public safety plan and the number of repeaters.


Kathy Lawhun, Chief of Main said during 2008-09 there was 42 incidents of reported drug use and she said by the end of the year it had gone from about 6 a month to about 3. 


Commissioner Kane asked about possible layoffs in the Library and the Library’s reserve.


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said the Library is not anticipating any layoffs but a number of vacancies have been frozen.  She said if we are asked to cut positions next year we should be able to do it through vacancies.  She said the reserve is approximately $12.5 million.


Commissioner Kane said for next year’s budget he will be looking very closely at the library’s priorities and making sure we focus on our core library services like hours and keeping librarians fully employed.


Commissioner Munson said the budget issue is just an update and there will be further information provided in January.


Commissioner Del Portillo asked if the library has been affected by bumping of employees.  She said training for the bumped employees is very specific and there should be funds allocated for training.


Jill Bourne said three positions have been effected and they are city wide positions.


President Gomez asked about the training for staff on the public safety issues.


Kathy Lawhun, Chief of Main, said the training was done for a small number because it’s most effective for small groups and those that attended will then train the additional staff.  She said there was also training in the Koret where the movie The Soloist was shown and there was a discussion afterward.


President Gomez said staff safety is very important




Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said the key recommendation of the City Controller’s audit findings of the Branch Library Improvement Program (BLIP) was to develop a detailed Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Public Works and the Library regarding the management of the BLIP.  She said the MOU was signed in June, 2008.  She said the first update on the MOU was provided to the Commission in November 2008.  She said the memo included in the Commissioner’s packets and at the back of the room outlines the changes made since the 2008 meeting.


Edgar Lopez, representing the Department of Public Works (DPW), gave a presentation on the overall performance of the MOU; the budget, scope and schedule; roles and responsibilities; project coordination and opportunities to improve.  He said this has been a great partnership with the Library and it has been successful because of the hard work of the BLIP management team.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said one of the aspects of the MOU is supposed to be clearer lines of responsibility.  He said the report says we are sending greater authority to the field managers for efficiency measures.  He said that was one of the issues highlighted by the West Portal branch audit. He said he is very suspicious of this idea.


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Munson said this is a big improvement and the Commission has been very supportive of this process.


Commissioner Lee said this is a major improvement.  He said closing the projects within three months is important and every time you extend it, it adds to additional soft costs.  He said there should be a deadline for that.  He asked who is responsible for the furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E).


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said that as part of the MOU there is a Technical Advisory Team that identifies the FF&E.  She said the FF&E is paid for by the Friends of the Library and they have a staff person who places the orders, but the FF&E package is approved by the library and BLIP team.  


Edgar Lopez, Department of Public Works, said having more detailed information will make it easier for DPW to understand the expectations of the Library and they continue to work on that through the MOU.


Jill Bourne said DPW and the Library worked on the MOU together.  She said there is much more transparency since the MOU was implemented.


Commissioner Chin said she was concerned about the number of change orders.


Edgar Lopez said change orders are in different categories including unforeseen conditions, code changes, directives by the library, and errors and omissions.




There was no labor union report.




Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said he submitted citizen summaries to these minutes on November 2.  He said they are not included in the minutes.  He said Section 67.16 of the Sunshine Ordinance provides that citizen summaries will be included in the minutes.  He said his comments under public comment did not clearly reflect his comments.  He said on page 3 his comments were not complete. 


Commission Discussion


Sue Blackman, Commission Secretary, said she did not think she received the citizen summaries and will go back and check.  She said she would include them with the approved minutes if she has them.


Commissioner Munson said on page three the anonymous citizen said that the audit was requested by the CGOBAC. He said it should be corrected to reflect that the Library Commission had requested the audit.  He also said on page one of the anonymous citizen’s comments the word aristocracy should be changed to democracy.


Commissioner Del Portillo said that Commissioner Munson’s comments would be reflected in the minutes of this meeting.


Motion:  By Commissioner Munson seconded by Commissioner Chin to approve the minutes of October 15, 2009 with a correction to the last word of the first sentence under public comment by the anonymous citizen to read democracy. 


Action:  AYES 6-0: (Chin, Del Portillo, Gomez, Kane, Lee, and Munson).




Public Comment


There was no public comment on this item.


Motion:  By Commissioner Del Portllio, seconded by Commissioner Munson to adjourn the regular meeting of December 3, 2009. 


Action:  AYES 6-0: (Chin, Del Portillo, Gomez, Kane, Lee, and Munson).


The meeting adjourned at 6:03 pm.


Sue Blackman

Commission Secretary


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).

These summary statements are provided by the speaker:  Their contents are neither generated by, nor subject to approval or verification of accuracy by, the San Francisco Public Library Commission.

Library Commission Meeting of December 3, 2009.


Item 1: General Public Comment


Anonymous Citizen: There is a schism between those who were or weren’t broken in by Commissioner Coulter that I should explain.


I overheard a monologue delivered to Mr. Munson that I considered an attempt to provoke me, but which I realized was his break-in-a-new-commissioner speech.  It was a stream of hate and contempt that I hope you can barely imagine, with the library staff characterized as “Trotskyite librarian’s screaming in my face.” 


These stories you tell yourself to objectify people and cut off human sympathy are just obvious cheap tricks to disenfranchise people.


Even library commissioners would object to such tactics by the Defense Department, but it is really Haliburton Oil or the Friends & Foundation that needs to suppress the truth and support the fantasy that you are “positive” and “good people.”


How would you feel if Haliburton Oil put $5 in a kitty for every anti-war protester and had a party with it?


Item 2: City Librarian’s Report


Anonymous Citizen: Stop the hate, stop the ignorance – don’t give money to the Friends & Foundation.


Welcome to the new Chief Financial Officer.  I hope the responsiveness issues will be solved.


Perhaps minimizing public comment is the motivation for grouping these policy issues that should be handled separately, particularly the budget.


We never thought we would be in this position with both the General Fund and the property tax set-aside going down.  It was thought that the influence of Prop. 13, with appraisals happening upon the sale of a property, the drop of property values would never reverse that regressive effect.  Well it has.


With respect to the safety report, we got a nice report on intervention statistics and staff satisfaction.  But lowering of incidents was only referred to in a general way and no reference at all to public satisfaction.  Since you represent the public that ought to be a concern.


Item 3: Memorandum of Understanding between Library and Department of Public Works Regarding Branch Library Improvement Program


Anonymous Citizen:  Stop the hate, stop the ignorance – don’t give money to the Friends & Foundation. 


The devil is in the details and I have not familiarized myself with many of the details.


This memorandum references several attachments, but the documents are loose throughout the packet.  I did eventually find them, but it would be more functional for everyone concerned if the attachments were actually attached.


One of the features of the memorandum of understanding was supposed to be clearer lines of responsibility.  The oral report stated that some authority was being decentralized for reasons of efficiency.  But, undocumented changes were highlighted as serious problems in the West Portal audit.  I would be suspicious of decentralizing authority in favor of ad hoc lack of oversight which has led to so many past problems.  This may be going in the wrong direction.


I will be studying this further, as I am sure you will.


Item 4: Approval of the Minutes (October 15, 2009)


Anonymous Citizen:  Stop the hate, stop the ignorance – don’t give money to the Friends & Foundation. 


My citizen summaries went to the secretary on November 2.  More than a month later on they are not here.


I wish I could say that I was shocked that my citizen summaries were omitted from the minutes.  In fact, I am shocked that they were included recently.  The secretary was hired to be tougher that Mr. Housh and he wouldn’t include the summaries.


The commission itself is answerable to the legal requirement, Sunshine Ordinance §67.16, that summaries, if provided, will be included in the minutes. 


The anonymous citizen is quoted as saying that aristocrats prefer aristocracy, but the point of the comment was the opposite; that some aristocrats prefer democracy, because democracy benefits the entire society. 


On the audit, I discussed the assault on accountability of using “boilerplate” as an excuse – which is omitted entirely.