Reporter's Notebook: Library trustees to meet June 21 as fingerpointing continues

As city and state budget decisions loom, a meeting of the Boston Public Library’s board of trustees is set for June 21. The 3 p.m. gathering will be in the Copley Square branch’s orientation room.

City Councillor At-Large Felix Arroyo said it’s expected to be the meeting he’s been pressing for. At a City Council hearing on the BPL budget, Arroyo had asked Boston Public Library President Amy Ryan to re-convene BPL’s trustees, who were not expected to meet again until September after a May annual meeting. The request came after state lawmakers attended the hearing and complained they were getting a noncommittal response when offering state aid to keep four libraries slated for closure open.

Library trustees voted in April to close four branches, including one in Lower Mills. They cited the economy and a “vision” to modernize and strengthen the library system.

Meanwhile, the finger-pointing between the Menino administration and members of the Legislature’s Boston delegation of Beacon Hill continues.

“They have to restore all that they’ve cut first,” Mayor Thomas Menino said when asked about the library closures at a Dorchester event last week. “It’s our library system. They made the decision to cut our budget, but they want us to carry the burden...”

State lawmakers, who argue talk about the BPL budget gap is a “smokescreen” and the planned closings have little to do with money. They say they have offered to plug the budget gap, but have not received solid assurances from library officials that the money would be used to keep the libraries open.

And last week, the state Board of Library Commissioners waded into the debate over amendments to the state budget aimed at preventing four library closures in Boston.

In a memo to lawmakers, chairman George Comeau and the commissioners said they were “deeply concerned” with the amendments. The amendments, attached in both the House and Senate versions of the budget but being worked out in a conference committee, demand that the Boston Public Library system keep all branches open, or else money will be withheld.

“This language, intended to preserve Boston branch libraries, will likely have unintended negative consequences for libraries and patrons statewide,” the library commissioners wrote of the amendments.

Echoing a similar memo from BPL officials during the legislative debates over the budget, library commissioners argued that the amendments would limit access to the libraries.

If the BPL doesn’t receive state aid, it would not be required to lend materials to other libraries or serve residents in other communities, the commissioners said. The memo states that 34 percent of Boston library card holders live outside of Boston.

“The MBLC greatly appreciates the Legislators’ efforts to keep libraries funded and open so that our residents can access vital services, but the budget language referred to above could have a wider negative impact that would limit patron access across the state,” they wrote.

Patrick gun bill to get do-over
The House voted 111-32 Tuesday to send Gov. Deval Patrick’s gun bill back to the Judiciary Committee, which through a possibly botched vote appeared to initially kill the legislation.
State Rep. Eugene O’Flaherty told colleagues that there had been a “misunderstanding in communication” over the committee’s vote last week, while his Senate co-chair Cynthia Creem has maintained that the House did not take into account two senators who voted in favor of the bill. O’Flaherty, who also voted in favor of the bill, defended his side of the committee, saying, “We know how to count in the House Judiciary Committee.”

As a wave of gun violence hit the city, Patrick criticized lawmakers for not moving more quickly on the bill, saying it was left to languish in committee. House Speaker Robert DeLeo has pledged that the bill will receive a floor debate.

According to a State House News Service tally of the committee vote, nearly half of the 17-member committee had voted to take no immediate position on the bill. State Sen. Jack Hart and Marie St. Fleur, a state representative until last week, voted in favor of the legislation.

Under the governor’s bill, violators who purchase more than one gun per month would face a maximum fine of $1,000 or a 2.5-year jail sentence on a first offense, and a maximum $5,000 fine or five years in state prison on a subsequent offense. The bill bars the possession of a machine gun except by instructors, collectors or law enforcement officers. Possession of a firearm, rifle or shotgun during the commission of a misdemeanor would be punished by imprisonment in state prison for up to 10 years, in a house of correction for up to 2.5 years or a $5,000 fine.

(Un)endorsement corner: Glodis nod costs Fifth Suffolk candidate
A bright yellow mailer is hitting some households across Massachusetts, touting 8,000 supporters from the Bay State’s cities and towns for Worcester County Sheriff Guy Glodis, a Democrat running for auditor.

Listed among his backers in Dorchester are Democratic State Committee members John Doogan and Barry Lawton, who is waging a campaign for the open Fifth Suffolk House seat.

But Lawton’s endorsement of Glodis, who has drawn fire from liberal activists for sometimes “crude and rude” behavior, has in part cost him a local endorsement.

Judy Meredith, a longtime Ward 15 Democratic Committee activist and former committee chair, told the Reporter she was pulling her support for Lawton partly because of the Glodis endorsement. (Meredith is backing former Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Suzanne Bump, also a Democrat. The field is rounded out by Democrat Mike Like and Republicans Mary Connaughton and Kamal Jain.)
For his part, Lawton said he decided to back Glodis before Bump got into the race.

Others in the Boston area supporting Glodis include state Sen. Jack Hart, state Reps. Marty Walsh and Brian Wallace, Congressman Stephen Lynch, and City Councillor At-Large John Connolly.

Though Glodis should have checked the mailer one more time before sending it off to the printer: Among several errors was the listing of state Sen. Stephen Buoniconti as a pol from West Roxbury. He represents West Springfield.

Local Bump backers include Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry and City Councillor Maureen Feeney. Rep. Fox (D-Roxbury) and City Councilor Robert Consalvo, who represents parts of Hyde Park and Mattapan, are also supporting Bump.

State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Jamaica Plain) is among those supporting Lake.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Material from State House News Service was used in this report. Check out updates to Boston’s political scene at The Lit Drop, located at dotnews.com/litdrop.