Is Encinitas for sale?

Is everything in our City for sale?  Even our integrity? Why is it that the rich can pay their way onto any building — whether it is a library, community park, or ball field?

Is this not what is partly wrong with Congress today? Lobbyists and people of means can give money and own people as well as places?

I never thought I would see this in Encinitas, but why not?

We are merely a microcosm of  the larger picture of the way government unfortunately operates in this country.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, former president of the United States put it this way: “Government by Organized Money is as dangerous as government by an Organized Mob.”

The Encinitas Library went through a controversial ballot initiative over the site for our library.  The current site was chosen overwhelmingly by 66 percent of the voters.  During the construction phase of the library, tours were available to people who paid $500 each for the privilege.

Over $50,000 was raised, along with many other personal generous donations to help make this library a reality.

The grand opening of the library took place in February, 2008.

The Encinitas Library, the citizens’ library,  is the “Jewel on the Hill” in our city with a 180 degree view of the Pacific Ocean that can be enjoyed by all who visit it.

Our library has become the second most used library in the county.  The building belongs to us, and is staffed by county library employees!

In October 2015, the Encinitas City Council contracted with Green Play consultants of Colorado, who wrote up a “Financial Sustainability” report that basically told the city that a way to make money on our city amenities, was through offering “naming rights.”

You give money and your name goes on a trail, a park, the Community/Senior Center; or in this case, starting with the Encinitas Library.

Why is a city, who tells its residents over and over that we are in great financial shape, contracting with consultants to tell us how to make money by selling our souls?

And that is about what naming rights for money donations amounts to when you sell your identity as a city.

A foundation, has come forward and offered $500,000 (in installments) to go to the “Friends of the Library,” which as a 501C-3, the Friends are obligated to spend on the Library.

This foundation is offering another $1 million (in installments) to go into the city’s General Fund to be used as the City Council chooses, for the naming rights to our library.

I do not believe any name should  appear on the Encinitas Library, except “Encinitas.”

This library is very special.

It belongs to all of us, and does not deserve to have its name changed for any amount of money!

It would be very generous for a donation to be made to the Friends of the Library outright — perhaps a plaque on the Friends area to recognize that contribution.

Why does it have to have a caveat attached that the city must sign an agreement to get the donation through claiming a “naming right?”

I admit that I have a personal and emotional attachment to this library, having put in more than 11 years to have it become a reality — during my four years on the City Council and eight years following, including six years on the Friends Library Board.

I worked with the architect and a group of dedicated citizen volunteers to bring this about.

It had many hoops to jump and obstacles to overcome, but always the citizens of this city were behind it, in support of it, celebrated with joy at its opening, and enjoy its use today.

This library should not be named for anyone else — for any amount of money —  it belongs to the citizens of Encinitas and it should be known as it is now — The Encinitas Library.

Sheila S. Cameron is an  Encinitas resident and former city mayor.

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