Regarding the proposed move of the Renton public library, I invite Renton residents to sign the library initiative petition to put the proposed move on the ballot in April. Everyone, even the Council, benefits from putting the matter to vote. I expect decisions that affect citizens and their community place to be put on the ballot and debated in a fair and transparent manner. I do not argue that moving the library would be a bad idea per se, but I contend the method.
I dislike the centralized method by which the city council voted in favor of moving the Cedar River library. I find it patronizing of the city to hold public hearings and surveys under the pretense of listening to voters, but effectively using said sessions to persuade voters in the likelihood that the initiative petition puts the library move on the ballot. Overall I expect governance to lead with responsible inquiry and to at least be consistent with its claims for fiscal responsibility during a recession. I expected elected officials to keep their campaign promise to listen. If Renton wants to stay ahead of the curve, then it must change its governing style to value voter voice. I expect city leaders to normalize constituents as leaders, too, and not just residents contained in buildings whose property taxes comprise revenue streams. The people ought to influence the nature of their Community Space. When a select few make decisions that ignore public "input," then of what merit can any civic leader complain about a lack of voter confidence and involvement?
I encourage residents to sign the initiative petition to put the matter to the voters. Let the voters decide. To the Council: If you're going to market to constituents, then at least let them guide your market research. Consider the benefit of diverse views, where citizen push back can save you from making a rushed and faulty decision. For instance, are you without a doubt confident that moving the library four blocks will "revitalize" downtown? If you're confident in the move, then why not put it to ballot? We've a vested interest in valuing democratic principles because ideally people will support the decisions that they contribute. Otherwise governing with a centralized style risks forcing citizens to comply with, and pay for, the decisions of a few.
On a related note I expect watchdog journalism from the Renton Reporter. Quality journalism does not resort to persuasion by exclusion, but writes accurately and fairly about matters especially with which the paper disagrees. I expected to see a paragraph about the library initiative petition in Wednesday's section about the city hosted hearings. It's news that at the timing of this letter over 6740 residents signed the Initiative Petition of the Citizens for the Preservation of Renton's Cedar River Library. Even if the Renton Reporter is a pro-government paper as it seems to be, then it's still surprising to exclude mentioning the petition, for the City allows residents to put initiatives and referendums to ballot via petitions per its code. In all I expect more responsible and courageous journalism and governance that speaks to themes of empowerment and citizen voice instead of using the power of the press and obfuscated governance to persuade constituents of the merits of its own opinions. Learn more about the Library Initiative Petition at http://rentonlibrary.com/
Thank you for reading,
Dena Rosko lives in Renton and works as a communication consultant, narrative health researcher, photoblogger, and writer.