Former Library Trustee Threatens Litigation to Stop Revisions to Material Selection Policy
Post Falls Library
POST FALLS — The Community Library Network (CLN) held a special meeting Thursday, November 2, 2023, to discuss revisions to the Material Selection Policy. During the meeting, it was made known to the public that a letter had been received, which CLN legal counsel, Colton Boyles of Boyles Law, PLLC, believes may pose a threat of imminent litigation.
The CLN board worked through an extensive process of reviewing each section of a lengthy revision draft to their Material Selection Policy. According to Chair Rachelle Ottosen, the intent of the board was to remove loopholes in the current selection policy that allows for harmful material to be procured and placed in collections designated for minors.
Trustee Tom Hanley reminded the board that revising the Material Selection Policy, and ending the procurement of material harmful to minors, was what the voters elected them to do.
When asked why he proposed revisions to the policy, Hanley responded, “I believe protecting children from harmful material to be a high priority, therefore, a pressing reason for the current board to revise the Material Selection Policy. It appears the current policy still allows for obscenity in the children’s section, by using a practice of considering a work “as a whole.” How much filth is enough to squeak by and be considered acceptable? Several sentences, a few chapters, 49 percent?”
The draft the board worked from contained the current Material Selection Policy, with proposed revisions by Hanley, and Trustee Tim Plass. There were countless Points of Order throughout the discussion, as frequent attempts to address different issues occurred, and alternate sections of the draft policy were brought up before those sections were under consideration. The Points of Order were made by multiple trustees in an endeavor to keep discussions on track and germane to the section of policy being reviewed at that specific time.
At the end of three hours, a consensus was reached to send a clean draft of the proposed revisions by Hanley, and Plass, as amended during discussions, to legal counsel, and staff, for review. After conferring with counsel, the board requested the legal analysis of the proposed draft of the Material Selection Policy be orally presented at their next regular meeting, which is scheduled for Thursday, November 16, 2023, at the Post Falls branch.
No current CLN policy was changed at this special meeting. The Material Selection Policy adopted on November 4, 2022, remains in full effect at this time.
After the meeting, a member of the public approached former CLN trustee, Regina McCrea, who attended the entire proceedings, and asked her if she was the person threatening litigation.
McCrea replied in the affirmative, “Yeah, I wrote the letter,” and proceeded to tell the member of the public they could FOIA the letter from the library. McCrea’s letter, which is now open to the public, states she has, “contacted organizations with both the means and the appetite to seek judicial review.”
According to former CLN trustee, Glen Seely, it is poor form for officials, who have recently left their seats, to interfere with, or be too public with criticism of their replacements. “What you are witnessing are sore losers who don’t understand that the vast majority in our community recognize we have limited resources, and do not want their tax dollars spent on books that are harmful for children. We want our libraries to be safe for children again,” Seely stated. “I fully support the current board’s efforts to restrain the out-of-control situation the library has found itself in.”
“What is currently on the shelves of libraries would have been unheard of 15 years ago,” asserted Seely.
Legislative District 2 Representative, Dale Hawkins, believes it is a best practice for former elected officials to give their successors time and space to undertake their duties and responsibilities, and remove themselves from the public eye regarding their former position.
Hawkins, who represents 20 percent of Kootenai County voters, stated, “Those who lose elections should respect the voter’s decision, and gracefully exit the arena. If you really want to say something, run again and win, but don’t interfere. That is the proper way of things.”
Apparently, McCrea and former trustee Judy Meyer, who was also in attendance at the special meeting, do not ascribe to this well-established etiquette and best practices. Both women have been present for the majority of CLN meetings since they lost their re-election campaigns earlier this year to current trustees, Plass, and Hanley. Also, McCrea’s letter to the board has been perceived to hold the threat of litigation should the board exercise their duty to make policy, and has given public comment at regular CLN board meetings on three separate occasions since losing her seat, while Meyer has given public comment once.
The voters spoke decisively in May when they replaced the former trustees with ones who campaigned on cleaning up the children’s section of the library. It remains to be seen if McCrea and Meyer will adhere to best practices, and etiquette, in the future.