Community Group Sues To Oppose Privatization Of Escondido City Library
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Credit: Matt Hoffman/KPBS
Opponents of a move by the city of Escondido to outsource its library functions to save money announced Tuesday that they have filed a lawsuit contending that the action violated state law.
In a complaint filed on behalf of plaintiffs Roy and Mary Garrett, lawyer Alan Geraci wrote that the state education code requires a public library to be managed by a board of trustees.
They are supporters of a group called Save Our Escondido Library Coalition, who wants to keep the library's employees on the city's payroll.
In this case, the Escondido City Council voted 4-1 in October to enter into a management contract with Maryland-based Library System and Services LLC even though the library's trustees rejected the idea, according to the attorney.
"The city of Escondido has broken the law," Geraci said. "By forcing privatization of our library, the City Council failed the community, failed the library workers and failed to follow the law.
City officials have estimated that privatizing the library will save the city $400,000 annually. They did not immediately respond to an inquiry about the lawsuit.
Escondido is the first community in San Diego County to privatize its library, located at 239 S. Kalmia St.
San Diego, Chula Vista and Oceanside run their own libraries, while the county offers 33 branches in other cities and unincorporated areas.
Among other things, the Vista Superior Court lawsuit asked for the City Council action to be rescinded, and that a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction be issued to stop the city from acting on the contract.
Roy Garrett, along with his wife, a 46-year Escondido resident and library supporter, said the City Council majority voted in the face of "virtually universal" opposition.
"Now the city manager, the mayor and City Council majority have broken faith with all the Escondido residents, taxpayers, volunteers, library employees and donors who created and nurtured this heart of our city, our 100-year-old public library, and turned it into a profit center for a corporation," he said.
In a statement to KPBS, Escondido City Attorney Michael McGuiness said "(T)he Library Board, which has assigned itself an advisory role with the City, will play an integral role in the oversight of the library and will likely be more involved in decision-making than ever before ... The City will aggressively defend the action and potentially seek sanctions for this frivolous lawsuit."
The contract with LS&S stipulates that the company has to extend an offer of employment to each current library employee.
It was reported last year that Escondido officials have also been looking into building a new and larger library at Grape Day Park, which would be expanded. Some opponents of the outsourcing plan contended that it could derail the project.
Opponents of a move by the city of Escondido to outsource its library functions to save money announced Tuesday that they've filed a lawsuit contending that the action violated state law.
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