Our fight to stop the Privatization Beast from preying upon our public libraries celebrated another victory as the California State Senate passed AB 438 (Williams) on Sept. 9. This legislation requires basic protections for taxpayers and library patrons when library services are being considered for privatization.
AB 438 will now move to the Governor’s desk for his signature – the final step required to become law.
“AB 438 is essential in that it requires full transparency and public participation when a city is considering privatizing its public libraries,” said Gina Quesenberry, El Monte Community Library Manger (Los Angeles County). “In these difficult financial times we can’t afford to have another situation like that of Santa Clarita in which privatizing didn’t save money, but actually ended up costing taxpayers an extra $12 million.”
The vote by the Senate came shortly after SEIU members and library supporters held a press conference in Sacramento and visited legislators to convey the importance of AB 438. They presented legislators and the Governor the names of 71,000 individuals – who had signed online petitions supporting the bill.
The financial pressures created by the state’s stubborn recession have created an opening for corporations to persuade cash-strapped cities to privatize essential public services like libraries. Often, however, communities learn too late about unanticipated costs and reduced services. AB 438 holds private corporations accountable to the public for achieving savings and for maintaining library quality.
AB 438 safeguards include:
• Increased public notice requirements for increased public participation.
• A fair cost analysis must be completed.
• Proven savings to the taxpayers.
• Competitive bidding process.
• Contractor must have proven qualifications.
• Employees cannot be displaced.
Please call Governor Brown at (916) 445-2841 and ask him to sign AB 438 and ensure public library standards and transparency for all California residents.