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Brentwood Library Board Adopts a Speaker Policy

They haven't had one until now because visitors have been so rare. Councilwoman Maureen Saunders spoke at last week's emergency meeting, and the board president said it went too long.

The Brentwood Library Board now has a policy for visitors to their meetings who would like to speak to the board.

At last week’s emergency meeting to discuss the tax rate, which Alderwoman Maureen Saunders attended, there was no board policy for speakers.

Board President Sheila Lenkman said visitors’ comments were at the end of the agenda, but Saunders said she wanted to speak before the vote.

“Out of courtesy to her, as an alderperson, we decided to let her speak, and that’s when things kind of got crazy,” Lenkman said. “We should have enforced that to five minutes, which is a reasonable time, and unfortunately it went over an hour.”

At the board meeting on Monday, discussing a policy for speakers was on the agenda.

Library Director Vicki Woods came to the meeting with the results of researching speaker policies around the state, and said some boards have had a similar problems, but theirs was different: an alderperson was trying to find information.

Sherman Lee, a past board vice president was at the regular meeting on Monday, and said no one was at fault in the emergency meeting. He called it “the speed of business.”

“Perhaps what happened at the ways and means and at the emergency board meeting was kind of a perfect storm,” he said. “There’s nothing in place, you have no framework, and this came right to the heart of it, and everyone was tense. The good thing is, everyone was passionate about trying to do the right thing for the city.”

Lenkman said the board meetings have never had visitors before, which is why no policy for speakers was in place.

The board talked about speakers signing up a week in advance, having different rules for invited and uninvited speakers, and time limits.

Board Secretary Brian Rothery said they should set a time limit only if they're prepared to enforce it, otherwise it’s like having no rule at all.

He also said it's good to keep guidelines general.

“Have a set policy that tells them when they can speak and how much, give the president the authority to give them the hook if they’re out of line, and away you go,” Rothery said.

At the meeting, the board decided to postpone drafting its own policy, and for the time being adopted the Richmond Heights Library guidelines.

Lenkman said they liked the Richmond Heights policy because “it is simple, easy to read and understand, and if you post it people might actually read it.”

This is the part of that policy having to do with speakers:

"Any member of the public who wishes to speak to the Board is asked to register upon arrival, indicate group affiliation (if speaking on behalf of anyone other than self), and to limit comments and general information to five minutes."

It also states they welcome documentation to support a comment, and that the library director maintains an open door policy.

Also in Patch:

  • Brentwood Library Tax Could Have Doubled: Wouldn't Have Been Nickel Increase
  • DeVaughan Appointed to Brentwood Library Board
  • Brentwood Voters Overwhelmingly Approve Library Tax Increase
  • Brentwood Voters to Consider Library Tax Levy Increase
Jim Pozzo September 19, 2012 at 07:43 PM
So the library adopts a speakers' policy after they have a meeting to discuss a tax rate increase that they haven't had since 1985? Seems to me they should have no problem having a long meeting for this occassion, allowing a newly elected official to get clarification on the topic for something that occurrs approx. every 30 years. Question: Did the library board already approve the 30 cents, an increase of 15 cents over current payments and are there minutes of that meeting posted on the library site?
Jim Pozzo September 19, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Jim Pozzo
Brentwood Public Library September 19, 2012 at 09:18 PM
The Library board approved a rate increase of five cents over last year's collected rate. The minutes are on the Library's website: http://brentwood.lib.mo.us/ As an information professional, I welcome questions from the community, patrons, elected officials, whomever--that is what librarians do, provide information. As the Director, it’s one of my duties to field questions about the library so the trustee’s meetings may run as efficiently as possible—they are unpaid volunteers and their time is valuable. I respectfully request that if anybody has questions regarding the Library, to feel free to contact me at 314-963-8633 or vwoods@bplmo.org and I’d be happy to help. Vicki Woods, Library Director
Mr. Completely September 19, 2012 at 10:25 PM
If Saunders wasn't there they would have taken the max tax! As time slides by to the next election in Brentwood you'll see more lame attempts to limit public comments at city meetings. These people operate best in a vacuum without public comment, published agenda, legal minutes. Ya know, they own Brentwood and they don't care for these pesky citizens with questions. The good news is that the Library Board is finished for another decade so they can go back to their Dewey Decimal System.
Jim Schmuke September 19, 2012 at 10:35 PM
Mr. Completely .... well said.
RDBet September 20, 2012 at 01:57 PM
It sounds like the board had the decision on whether to raise it 5 or 15 under control. They needed to put all the information on the table first. It's what rational people do in a process for decision-making. Mrs. Saunders, bless her heart - may have overdid it this time. An hour visit on a library board meeting....please. No wonder the minutes read the way they do... People were probably dozing off and stopped paying attention.
Brass Kitty September 20, 2012 at 02:02 PM
From the official minutes of the LIbrary Board on their website: Ms. Saunders suggested the Library Board could vote to set the tax at the maximum rate of .30 – thus enabling the Board of Alderman to use the excess funds for other city purposes. As this suggestion is outside the purview of this Board, no official stance was taken – although it was pointed out by the Board that voters would be misled of a tax increase was repurposed for use outside the library.
Citi for Honest Governance September 20, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Sorry, this portion of the minutes mischaracterize the entire content of Alderperson Saunders communication. As for the 5 or 15 cents, Vicki Woods made it completely clear in the preceding Monday's Ways & Means committee meeting that the library would take the 15 and run, and that she does not consider herself answerable to any one, particularly not the citizens of Brentwood or the BOA. "The Brentwood Library co-exists with the City, if The City of Brentwood were to close it's doors tomorrow, the Library would continue to exist". However she currently chooses to "spin" her communication, she can let that weigh on her own conscience(if one exists). Shame on you Ms. Woods!
Chuck Finley September 20, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Hey Citi – Someone else (Julie Pozzo) said something similar on a different Patch story (http://maplewood-brentwood.patch.com/articles/brentwood-library-tax-could-have-doubled-wouldn-t-have-been-nickel-increase). Maybe Ash Morgan’s comment was right: someone needs to challenge the library board to change their minutes, because commenting on the Patch doesn’t seem to be working.
Citi for Honest Governance September 20, 2012 at 06:14 PM
I certainly do not condemn the Library Board because I certainly cannot prove or disprove the intent of the Board as a whole. I also cannot speak for Ms. Woods words at the Library Board meeting because I was not in attendance. However, Ms. Woods intent and disdain in her communication was abundantly clear...
Citi for Honest Governance September 20, 2012 at 06:15 PM
In the Ways and Means committee meeting
Hugh West September 20, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Sounds to me like the Library's intent was to do its best to provide good library service for the citizens of Brentwood. Do people really think that trying to raise the rate the library collects is some kind of power grab? No municipal service has ever provided so much direct good to so many people on so few dollars as a public library. Get some perspective and stop acting like this is the department of defense frittering away a quadrillion dollar budget . . .
Mr. Completely September 20, 2012 at 10:36 PM
So.....was there a .15 library tax that was already approved years ago by voters however never levied, and siting on the books ripe for the collecting? If so what was the point of the .05 ballot initiative? I've asked this question repeatedly, no answer.
Hugh West September 20, 2012 at 11:46 PM
Mr. Completely--do you know anything about the Hancock Amendment, and how adversely it distorts a public service's ability to collect funds for operation? Please, educate yourself in at least the rudiments of Missouri's crazed taxing structure, and then come back and start asking questions.
Citi for Honest Governance September 20, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Hugh West I couldn't agree more that I believe the good majority of citizens trust that the Library Board's intent was honorable, and only to best provide good library service for the citizens of Brentwood...myself included. However, at the Ways & Means committee meeting Ms. West's conduct was anything but honorable, rather indignant & self-righteous. I also believe that we all would prefer to be treated respectfully, and conduct ourselves with some sense of decorum. I choose to believe that Ms. West is a good person, who simply erred in her judgement that night. I hope our entire community can continue to maintain healthy respect for one another, and move forward in a positive and transparent manner.
Citi for Honest Governance September 21, 2012 at 12:03 AM
Mr. Completely You are correct in that the Library tax had a ceiling approved of .25 in 1985. However, based on the Hancock Amendment(which is very convoluted to say the least) the tax self adjusts based upon the rise and/or fall of property values...Which went down bringing the tax from .25, to an adjusted rate .16 over the years. The .5 or $125,000 increase was definitely warranted. However the increase of roughly 100%, .15, or $400,000 was not in the spirit of the tax increase. At the end, I believe it the Library Board did precisely the right thing, and I applaud them for it. However, if not for Alderpersons Saunders and Leahy, I cannot be certain this would have been clarified. I applaud the Library Bd for their final action, and also Alderpersons Saunders and Leahy for their professional persistence.
Mr. Completely September 21, 2012 at 01:38 AM
Yea, real helpful Hugh West, genius. I asked for some help, you gave me B.S. Please answer my question. If there was an option to take more tax than the amount on the ballot, then what was the point of the ballot? I'm asuming by your post that you have all the answers so I'll stand by.........
Geoff Peterson September 21, 2012 at 11:49 PM
It may be that the ruckus over the Library may never die down, but it could be much worse. At least Brentwood is not the Hillbrow Public Library in Johannesburg: http://imgur.com/pppxL
TOOWARM September 22, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Sounds like the Library Director has been trained in the Pat Kelly School of Arrogance.. let me guess.. this Position is appointed by the Mayor??
Roy Hinkley September 22, 2012 at 05:22 PM
TOOWARM: Clearly you don't understand that the State Attorney General ruled that libraries are legally separate from municipal governments (Geoff Peterson included it in one of his comments, http://ago.mo.gov/opinions/1972/20-72.htm). John Danforth wrote "It is the opinion of this office that the governing boards of county, city-county and municipal libraries are vested with the administrative authority of such libraries and are not under the direction of the officers or governing bodies of such cities or counties." Think about it: it's similar to the School District being legally separate from the City, with separate Boards and separate taxing authority. Mayor Kelly could no more appoint the Library Director than he could appoint the Brentwood High School Principal. Nor could School Superintendent Faulkner appoint the Library Director. So if you want to guess, make it an educated guess. You could try examining an issue and studying the facts instead of using smear tactics. You could go to the library and do your research, or better yet, meet the staff and the Library Director Woods yourself and see for yourself that she is far from arrogant. But that would require effort. And intelligence.
Mr. Completely September 22, 2012 at 05:28 PM
OK I'm on the edge of my chair; who does appoint the library board members Mr. Hinkley? Share your knowledge with the humble masses. I'm assuming like any legal board they then nominate and elect their officers? Mr. West, I'm still waiting fo an answer to my question above; if there was already a tax in place that had been previously approved by ballot and never assessed, what was the point of the recent .05 ballot item?
Roy Hinkley September 24, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Mr. Completely, I don't know the details of how Brentwood Library and City works. I just know that most of the accusations in the Patch comments are trying to use the Library in yet another attempt to smear the city, and the biggest misunderstanding is that the Library is a department of the City. That's a basic fact people skip over too quickly. And that's what the Ashcroft quote clarifies. As for how Brentwood Library and City works? What I do know is that the Library provides very good services and is a benefit to the entire Brentwood community. If the City did something fishy to the Library, I trust that auditors would find and report it. If the Library was missing funds, they would report it. If I thought I smelled smoke I would look for a fire, but I've found life is less stressful if I assume not everyone is out to con everyone all the time. But you obviously feel like you have many unanswered questions. Why do you expect crazy, anonymous, emotion-over-logic Patch commenters to have the answers? Brentwood is a small town, not like New York City or something. Just go directly to the sources, like City Hall, Library Director Vicki Woods and/or the Library Board. If I understood the original article correctly, the Library Board has a very reasonable Visitors Policy...
Sheila September 26, 2012 at 02:27 PM
The City of Brentwood's website is incorrect. By the law of the state of Missouri, the Mayor of Brentwood does appoint the library board, but he appoints all nine of us. How does he do this? Simple... we volunteer to do it. We step forward and indicate our willingness to actually do something for the community in which we live in. Then, by the dictates of that state law, he makes a proclamation at the next Board of Alderman meeting that appoints us to the board. That is the end of it... he does not attend our meetings, sleep with us or influence us in any way. We do not get paid anything for our service. Who are we? We are your neighbors. We are moms and dads, some working and some retired, male and female. We count among us a lawyer, a CPA, several businesspeople, a teacher,and a real estate agent. There is no city Alderman actually on our Board. One is appointed to us as a liaison, as a courtesy, to keep the lines of communication open between the city and the library. The liaison can show up at library meetings or not... nothing is set in writing regarding that. Currently, Lee Wynn is our appointed liaison. Sheila Lenkman Brentwood Library Board President
Sheila September 26, 2012 at 02:29 PM
The Library Board is responsible for hiring a Library director. Two years ago I was part of a four member sub committee which conducted a series of interviews that took two weeks and about 12 hours of our time. We did this, without pay, to ensure that our library had the best Director we could find. We stand behind Vicki Woods. If you have a question, or problem with the Brentwood Library, it's Board, or it's Director, please attend our monthly meetings and voice your opinion. This Patch article and it's accompanying comments are not the whole story by any means. Thank you Sheila Lenkman Brentwood Library Board President
Sheila September 26, 2012 at 06:43 PM
By the law of the state of Missouri, the Mayor of Brentwood does appoint the library board, all nine of us. How does he do this? Simple... we volunteer to do it. We step forward and indicate our willingness to actually do something for the community in which we live in. Then, by the dictates of that state law, he makes a proclamation at the next Board of Alderman meeting that appoints us to the board. That is the end of it... he does not attend our meetings or influence us in any way. We do not get paid anything for our service. Who are we? We are your neighbors. We are moms and dads, some working and some retired, male and female. We count among us a lawyer, a CPA, several businesspeople, a teacher,and a real estate agent. There is no city Alderman actually on our Board. One is appointed to us as a liaison, as a courtesy, to keep the lines of communication open between the city and the library. The liaison can show up at library meetings or not... nothing is set in writing regarding that. Currently, Lee Wynn is our appointed liaison. Sheila Lenkman Brentwood Library Board President"
Mr. Completely September 26, 2012 at 07:02 PM
That loud echo that you have heard throughout this thread is alderman Wynn, the liaison, expressing his opinion.

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