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Will Seattle spend $213M so Councilmember Juarez won’t have to return her library books on time?

As a little kid growing up in Ballard and I would often ride my bicycle to the Ballard Library. They had this little courtyard area in the back where they had a fountain and you could sit back there on summer days and read books and listen to cascading water. It was really nice. I liked it a lot.

RELATED: King County Library lost a cutthroat book sorting competition to New York

I mostly read sports books. One day I checked out a biography of Roberto Clemente, the great Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder. I know that this must have been either 1970 or ‘71 because he was still alive when I checked it out. Roberto Clemente, on New Year’s Eve 1972, he was trying to get supplies to earthquake ravaged Nicaragua and his plane went down and he died. I just thought he was a great ball player so I checked out this Roberto Clemente book.

A few weeks later, my mom gets a letter from the library that Dori hasn’t returned the Roberto Clemente book. My mom asked me where it was and I said, “I don’t know.” I freaked out. We scoured the house from top to bottom and I couldn’t find the Roberto Clemente book. My mom’s in a panic. She said, “That means we’re going to have to buy it, we’re going to have to pay to replace it.”

If it was ‘71, which is what I’m guessing, that would be 48 years ago. I remember it to this day because how could I be this irresponsible. How did I lose the Roberto Clemente book? Then my poor mom; we didn’t have two quarters to scratch together. She said, “We’re going to have to pay for the book now, We’re going to have to buy it,” and I felt awful.

I don’t remember what eventually happened. I know my mom didn’t have enough to pay for the book, as she feared, and I know she had to go down to the library and talk to the librarians. But 48 years later, I still remember this feeling that I was really irresponsible. This place that I love was mad at me, my mom’s mad at me…

So let’s compare and contrast that to this Jenny Durkan press conference where she announced that she wants huge, huge property taxes for the Seattle libraries. It’s $213 million dollars, but she phrased it that they just want to extend the old library levy. It’s the little game that all politicians love to play.

The first thing I thought of was of the Roberto Clemente book and how vivid that memory of irresponsibility was.

So why do they need $213 million dollars for the libraries?

“As a city, we are absolutely committed to lifting up communities that have been historically undeserved. We do that throughout all of our work and nowhere is that more important than our library system, which stands for so much about who we are as a community. I’m committed, as mayor, I know the council is committed as well, to making sure that our libraries are open to every resident in the city of Seattle. That’s one reason, in the step for equity, we look across the system — we have to remove as many barriers as possible. So we will be eliminating all of the overdue library fines.”

So you’re raising people’s taxes to pay for the fines of people who have overdue library books? That’s why you’re raising property taxes? So that the people of your city — the responsible taxpayers — can pay for other people’s irresponsible kids?

Debora Juarez, city councilwoman, got up to speak at the press conference and she thanked Durkan for eliminating library fines.

“I also want to say and thank the mayor for waiving the late fees, so I will be first in line for amnesty.”

What?! You’re a Seattle City Councilmember but you can’t return a book on time? You’re responsible for billions in a city budget, but you’re going to be first in line for amnesty?

Let’s raise everybody’s property taxes so Debora Juarez won’t have to return her library books on time.

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