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Live Blogging: B-PAC's Library Board Forum at Civic Center

B-PAC's library board forum starts at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at the Civic Center in Morton Grove

B-PAC sponsored its own library candidate forum on Tuesday evening, with a general assembly of residents walking up to the podium to ask questions. Members of PROLibrary, the opposing organization running for library board trustee spots, also held a pub quiz event at the same time, and said they never received timely invitations for the B-PAC forum on Tuesday, which . There will be a library candidate forum, sponsored by Morton Grove Public Library, on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.*

7:00 p.m. The candidate forum kicks off with four candidates on stage: Paul Berg, Catherine Peters, Mark Albers and David Calimag. The members of PROLibrary are not in attendance, though name tags and empty seats are on the stage for Bernadette Fahy, Laura Frisch and Lawrence Levin. 

7:08 p.m. Candidate Peters takes a question about the library lending policy between libraries in Skokie and Niles, saying the relationship is healthy and B-PAC candidates have no intention to decrease the number of books or materials at MGPL.

7:13 p.m. Candidates have taken three questions from the audience. More than 20 people in attendance nibble on cookies and coffee as they listen.

7:15 p.m. Candidate Berg reiterates the desire to bring "fiscal sanity" to the MGPL governing.

7:20 p.m. Berg continues with a discussion about an increase in hired staff at the library since 2004. As for the need to spend money on building infrastructure: "Some money will certainly be spent on infrastructure as long as we keep the current library building," he said.

7:21 p.m. Peters also asks, "Where is the money going?" noting a 40 percent increase in staff and no changes with hours of operation. She said that there is a "two million dollar" account that is listed as "reserved/restricted for culture and recreation" in the Dec. 31 2009 "Village of Morton Grove, Illinois Component Unit - Public Library, Statement of Net Assets and Balance Sheet." 

After the meeting, Peters explained her question in greater detail:

"This is not the account that is used to pay for budgetary items throughout the year, this is separate from that account. Our question is: What culture/recreation project do they have that they are holding two million dollars for, and why did they go to the taxpayers of Morton Grove for an additional $400,000 when they have two million dollars available to them?"

7:23 p.m. Morton Grove resident Patrick Kansoer comes to the podium to talk about the "forensic audit" that B-PAC wants to order if elected. "Is it that the auditor has not been doing a comprehensive audit, or do you believe a forensic audit is in order because there is any wrongdoing?" Albers said, "We're not implying any wrongdoing…but we're going to be watching public money because we want to know what's happened with the money. We want to be transparent."

7:26 p.m. Kansoer takes the podium for a follow-up. As a former library board member he asks, "What is your position on consultants and if you believe current use should continue, explain, or if not, why not?" Peters said that there is a time and a place for consultants. 

7:33 p.m. "The reason it would be important to choose B-PAC or the other side is because B-PAC will not be trying to put in a new building, while PROLibrary will take it up again. The choice people have: Do you want 20 million or 30 million dollars with a new library? It really is the seminal issue of this campaign right now," said Peters.

7:35 p.m. Candidate Calimag speaks up, "Can we afford a library? That will be the question."

7:40 p.m. About 10 more people trickle into the event, so the crowd is now about 30 people in attendance. One man stands up to tell the members of B-PAC, "thank you for running," and asks that if elected, they will commit to civil and open board meetings. 

7:46 p.m. Samina Hussain, Morton Grove resident and District 67 board member, asked about the program attendance at the library, whether people are asked to identify themselves as Morton Grove residents or not. Peters said she would hope that Morton Grove residents would receive high preference for program spots when attendance is completely full. 

7:53 p.m. Hussain asks for candidates to clarify their vision for the role of the library in the 21st century. Berg reads from the B-PAC pamphlet, highlighting the importance of literacy and love of learning. Peters also reiterates that the library is a good place for children to read and do homework. Albers "takes it one step further" to say that B-PAC hopes to improve technology in board rooms to facilitate work with the schools and businesses in the community.

7:56 p.m. "If there are no more questions, anyone can state what's on their mind; feel free," said Albers. Berg notes that he has plenty of yard signs in his car if anyone wants one, and Peters thanks the audience for attending the event. 

7:57 p.m. The panel of candidates receives audience applause before adjourning.

*Clarification: Context was added for recent events on library candidate forums.

Elaine Pascual March 23, 2011 at 03:00 PM
I am looking forward to attending the Library Board Candidates Forum sponsored by the Morton Grove Public Library on Thursday, March 24th at 7:30 pm in the MGPL's Baxter Room. See http://www.webrary.org/inside/forum20110324.pdf for details. This forum will be moderated by a volunteer from the Union League of Chicago. All eight candidates have been invited to this forum and agreed on both the date and the moderator.
Casey Faust March 23, 2011 at 03:13 PM
According to the article above only about 7 or 8 questions were asked in a one hour meeting that I didn't even know existed until 11 hour before it happened. Where did that come from? I have seen notices of the Thursday meeting but not the Tuesday.
Casey Faust March 23, 2011 at 03:17 PM
Alex, please read clearly. Elaine was VERY clear in what was stated and you are being very rude and the one spreading false statements. She said that all eight candidates have agreed to the time and moderator.
Casey Faust March 23, 2011 at 03:41 PM
She didn't say anything misleading, and I am speaking for myself here. Some comments on this debate have been lowered to the level of disrespect. I am not fending for Elaine or anyone else. I am a reader and a responder and if I see a rude post, I will call it out no matter who wrote it. It is very clear in Elaine's post what was agreed upon. Y0u seem to be reading much more into it. And now you are being rude to me. Uncalled for! Let us please stick to the facts and leave the unnecessary name calling and personal comments of this adult conversation. Please.
Elaine Pascual March 23, 2011 at 03:44 PM
Thank you, Alex. I am an adult and can speak for myself. However, I did not find a need to correct your error because it was already corrected by someone else. I never mentioned the word "rude" in any of my postings. Casey is also an adult whom I have never met and is not speaking FOR me.
Alex Windsor March 23, 2011 at 03:52 PM
Thank you Elaine. I respect you for being a strong advocate for your position and the candidates whom you support. I wanted to make it clear that your opposition did not agree to attend the debate (although they did admit to being invited and who could moderate). A quote in the patch story link I included may clarify things: Mark Albers, a B-PAC candidate, said that the organization does not consider the library a neutral site for such an event. "Basically it’s a government entity controlled by the current library board and supporters who want to keep those other candidates in office," he said. "This debate should be between candidates. We never agreed to do a debate at the library"
Tony Kovacs March 23, 2011 at 04:30 PM
Basically BPAC misses an opportunity to discuss their positions to a broad audience by not attending the forum at the library. Neutral site is semantics-if you have a strong case-the site does not matter!
Elaine Pascual March 23, 2011 at 05:12 PM
Alex, I stand by my original statement regarding the 3/24 forum, "All eight candidates have been invited to this forum and agreed on both the date and the moderator." Could the same be said of the 3/22 forum?
Casey Faust March 23, 2011 at 05:26 PM
I really hope all eight candidates will be there There will be a good audience I think that just want straight forward answers. I look forward to hearing both sides and real statistics and numbers and reasons for each candidates public statement. I have read all the information that has been available but there is an awful lot of grey comments with no clear solutions or facts being revealed.
C. Quinn March 23, 2011 at 06:04 PM
As a less 'tenured' resident of Morton Grove (we moved here 4 yrs ago), I'm extremely disheartened to see that the BPAC group appears to be running parallel and yet more opaque vs the overall election campaign. There's a strong need for a public forum, not one created with short lead time, and little public communication. In addition, the idea that the B-PAC group does not view the library as a neutral zone, then how do they view themselves as potentially effective if they were to be elected? Any candidate group that already views their responsibility as a negative environment should be bridging those differences, not being divisive. I expect my public officials to manage effectively, deliver results, and design for the future. For all the wrong reasons, I'm clearly engaged now, and will be attending the forum to learn more. My kids adore the library and its services, and I love my kids, so I will seek to learn and vote for who will deliver against my goals of a public official.
David Levin March 23, 2011 at 06:10 PM
Mr. Kansoer---your statement that I am involved in any campaign effort is completely false. I have no role with any campaign and nothing to do with the election efforts of any candidates. Perhaps you are confusing me with Dan Hoffman, who is serving as the campaign coordinator for the incumbent candidates. The Candidate Forum - taking place at the MGPL tomorrow night at 7:30pm - is being conducted at the library as a public service, consistent with the library's mission to educate and inform Morton Grove residents on topics that impact their lives. All 8 library trustee candidates were invited to attend the Forum at the same time and provided with identical information related to the moderator and format of the event - both of which is being provided free of charge by the Union League Club of Chicago. For more information as to the library's appropriateness as a venue for the Candidate Forum, I invite you to read the following article: http://mortongrove.patch.com/articles/library-board-candidates-spar-on-forum-location
David Levin March 23, 2011 at 06:43 PM
It's also important to note that the communications Mr. Kansoer references above - between the library and all 8 independent candidates for library trustee - does not represent "negotiations between the parties." It represents communication between the 8 candidates and the MGPL as an institution which I, as the current board president, am called on to represent. The venue, moderator, and format were not open to negotiation or input by any of the 8 candidates. A choice of 5 available dates, however, was given; with candidates asked to respond to the library as to the dates that worked best with their schedules. March 24th was indicated as the date available for all. A copy of these communications was provided to the local media and all are welcome to review them. Tables, chairs, and equal time will be provided for all library trustee candidates who attend tomorrow night's Candidate Forum. All candidates are invited and encouraged to attend.
Pat Craig March 23, 2011 at 07:39 PM
My apologies to Mr. Levin for misstating his political position. I now understand after his explanation that it was his, (as representative of the library), decision to choose the venue and the moderators and that neither the BPAC candidates not the incumbent candidates with whom he currently serves had any input or say as to venue or moderator. Again, my apology for misunderstanding his, and the library's intentions in this matter.
Alex Windsor March 23, 2011 at 08:33 PM
So let me get this straight - the current President of the Library Board is deciding the "when's and where's" about a debate for an election of candidates in opposition to those being managed politically by the current Library Secretary and past President that he serves on the board with? Might these all be the same current directors running who are advocating building a new facility for $20 million as seen in the official newsletter of the Library last December? Couldn't be the same newsletter printed and distributed at public expense which claimed it was cheaper to spend $20 mil for a new place instead of $4 mil to repair an old one? Would it be this the same President, Secretary and Board that had caused an increase of taxes by $100,000 over what the entire village requested; just to maintain one facility, knowing the village board was powerless to deny this action? We still haven't heard enough about that $2 mil in the kitty for a recreation fund as they took more money out of our pockets? No, this couldn't all be true, could it? It must be a really bad dream that we'll all wake up from soon, perhaps on the morning of April 6th.
Alex Windsor March 24, 2011 at 02:44 PM
I just noticed this series of letters initiated by Board President Levin inquiring about a forum on this string. It seems Candidate Larry Levin's question posed earlier about why President Levin was contacted about a forum and not the candidates was answered (don't you guys talk at all - you sit right next to each other at Board Meetings right?). The question remains, why is the President of the Board (and Secretary for that matter) taking any role in a political campaign that he will benefit from by maintaining the status quo on the Board (the same Board that has raised taxes while sitting on a two million dollar reserve fund and advocated spending twenty million dollars on a new building)? Interesting reading about how the President of the current board doesn't like to be told no or respond to concerns by other candidates and clearly feels he has the right to use the library as a campaign headquarters for his political party. OK PROLibrary supporters, blast away at me all you want, but your candidates' words and deeds are truly ringing hollow in the ears of many people in Morton Grove today. Oh, I noticed you had a fund raiser this week, in Skokie. Are their citizens now voting and paying taxes in Morton Grove like the lady who wrote in the Champion today. Really nice way to help our local Morton Grove economy guys! http://mortongrove.patch.com/articles/live-blogging-library-board-forum-at-civic-center#pdf-5379944
Catherine Peters March 24, 2011 at 08:21 PM
B-PAC never agreed on the venue, and from the beginning refused to take part in the forum if it was to be held at the Library, a space totally controlled by the current board, four of whom are running for re-election. The Union League was invited by David Levin, President of the Board. Additional rules for the forum were added by Director Ben Shapiro. In short, B-PAC does not recognize the forum, sponsored and controlled totally by our opposition, as a legitimate forum and has never had any plans to attend it.
Catherine Peters March 24, 2011 at 08:24 PM
The meeting was posted on the board in the lobby of the Civic Center for two weeks. Dozens of notices were posted in public spaces of Morton Grove. All of the media was aware of the meeting. The meeting was mentioned numerous times by the members of B-PAC. The three candidates received two invitations to the forum.
Catherine Peters March 24, 2011 at 08:26 PM
In order to have a forum, three things need to be agreed upon.....the time, the moderator, and the venue. Without all three, there is no meeting of the minds. In short, there is no agreement to have a forum. B-PAC has never agreed to the terms insisted upon by the library and will not be forced or bullied into accepting them.
Brent D. March 24, 2011 at 08:57 PM
What I don't udnerstand is why would a physical loction would be a problem?? If you have d substance and passion about specific topics and want to share it with your supporters, perhaps have an opportunity to sway the undecided ones, then you shouldn't care at what building the debate will take place. If you belive that you are running on truth and facts then why hide behind silly smoke curtins. I for once am still undecided and will be attending tonight's meeting. I really want to make an informed decision before I cast my vote. I would think that having more opportuntities to share your vision would benefit your campaing efforts. Pointing fingers that this group didnt agree or that etc.., it is just bunch of silly micky mouse politics. Step up and be a biger person, show up the forum and tells us why are you so passionate about the needed change, don't hide behind baseless excusses. Based on the conduct that has been displayed on this forum none of you deserve our votes!
C. Quinn March 24, 2011 at 09:42 PM
As the library as the institution, I understand that there was no negotiation by either slate of candidates to change the venue, moderator or process. That only dates were open for discussion based on availability. Ms. Peters, you can make insinuations all you want, but I have to believe the intent is dead on. I have to ask the broad question that I sure hope each candidate can answer truthfully: how will the future elected board ever work together? If the B-PAC slate considers the library as a battleground, what will ever happen when you all have to work with the balance of the library board? I'm already concerned that the negativity, the 'death by a thousand paper cuts' in legal challenges as I read them, and demographic posturing will cause loss of current library volunteers and support, which are critical for personnel and managing services. Everyone needs to think about how you would work together, because, let's be honest, there's an equally high likelihood that parts of these polarizing platforms will become our new board. The future of the library is what is under question and up for a vote-do we have leaders who have passion and a vision for it? Avoiding it because you view it as a hostile environment does not bode well. So, please, take a moment and think about what you as an individual would do as an elected official working with others who have diverse opinions. That's where the work needs to be done-so please, step up.
Dan Goldberg March 24, 2011 at 09:56 PM
In looking at the correspondence from the first invitation by the Library Board President and all the rest that followed, it seems like one side was pressuring the other then disregarded their input. A date/time, location and moderator were selected for the forum when that side they didn't get the answer they wanted from the other. Printing up a flyer and posting it on the Library's site seemed a bit premature because in legal terms, there really was no agreement. But take a look at the letters for yourself in case my interpretation is wrong. Personally, it seems like one side was being bullied and chose to stick up for their principles. There's something not quite kosher when the arrangements are being made by your opposition, on your home turf and are utilizing a moderator of your own choosing. If I were them, I would continue to take my case to the voters directly and avoid the whole debate issue all together (they rarely sway anyone and are attended by supporters of one side or the other if you really think about it). Sadly, I'm not sure many people around town really care enough one way or the other, but I do hope enough people come out to vote to bring this discussion to a conclusion, what ever that may be. http://mortongrove.patch.com/articles/live-blogging-library-board-forum-at-civic-center#pdf-5379944
Brent D. March 24, 2011 at 10:52 PM
I still view these tactics as silly rethorics and innuendos. It is really sad to see that the entire focus of what this campaign should be about has been replaced (at least at this forum) by angry, demeaning finger pointing. How are we suppose to trust any of these candidates when they display this behavior. Being an advocate of any instutiation requires ability to be flexibile, able to stay objective and understand when you have to compromise in the intstrest of all. Viewing Library as an unjustice and hostile enviromnent sounds like any immature excuse to me.

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