THURBER: Watchdogs force library to remove pro-levy message from website

By   /   October 31, 2012  /   Comments Off on THURBER: Watchdogs force library to remove pro-levy message from website

By Maggie Thurber | Special to Ohio Watchdog

BOTH SIDES: The Northwest Ohio Conservative Coalition helped to ensure that opponents and supporters of a tax increase were heard.

It all started when several Toledoans involved with the Northwest Ohio Conservative Coalition noticed a Vote for Issue 23 pop-up on the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library website.

The ad had two options: one to continue to the regular library website and the other for more information about the levy. The “more information” page made the case for passing the library’s request for a 2.9 mill levy, a renewal of an existing 2 mills plus an additional 0.9 mills — a 45 percent increase in income.

They also noted that the Supporters of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library Facebook page urged residents to pick up pro-levy signs at all library branches.

So they asked for equal access to put their anti-levy message as a pop-up on the webpage and distribute their anti-levy signs in the branches.

After checking with their attorneys, the library responded by removed its pro-levy pop-up and webpage.

“We have modified our electronic communications regarding Issue 23,” Susan Gibney, manager of the library’s marketing department, wrote in an email to the group. “We have consulted with our legal counsel in making these modifications. Once you review the library information on our Web site, you will see that we are in compliance.”

That wasn’t all. Not only were the NWOCC anti-levy signs allowed to be distributed in the branches, but any group wanting to use the public building for doing so was granted the same access.

“Our managers are aware that they will make space available in our lobbies for any other levy or anti-levy yard signs,” Gibney wrote.

John Mc Avoy, an NWOCC board member, said, “Our opposition to the new taxation does not mean we oppose the organizations or entities making the requests, but that we oppose their decision to seek new or additional income at this time, given the state of the economy.”

Now, thanks to the efforts of this watchdog group, residents in Lucas County will find both sides of the issue when they go into the public library buildings paid for with public dollars.