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LIBRARIES: Watch authoritarians in action

| May 26, 2024 1:00 AM

For decades library trustee roles were nonpartisan. Yet over this last year, the Community Library Network majority trustees have shown themselves to be extremist. That the end justifies the means is evident in how the majority treats fellow trustees, library staff, the press and the public.

Opinion pieces by Rachelle Ottosen, Tom Hanley and Tim Plass regularly use words like trash, filth, nasty and lying to describe ideas they don’t like. Chair Ottosen uses Soviet terms to describe this newspaper, has sheriff’s deputies remove citizens from public meetings, and labels library user input “propaganda.”  

Trustee Plass has argued with the district’s lawyer about almost every point for months. He recently argued against governmental accounting rules with the outside accountant making the annual presentation of CLN’s audited financial statements. These are tactics used by authoritarians.    

In a new book about disinformation, author Barbara McQuade writes “under the rule of law, process is paramount…abusing the rule of law is one of the ways leaders disguise their efforts to undermine the will of the people.”

When I moved to North Idaho in 1992, I thought the community belonged to all of us. That concept had inspired countless people before I arrived, and more since, to bring into being many projects for the benefit of all. While the idea may seem naïve now, where are we without it? 

Is it OK for library trustees to freely impose their wills while they discount citizen, expert or staff views? Is it really OK if our community belongs only to some of us now?

PAT RAFFEE

Post Falls