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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Liberty Lake council upholds mayor’s veto on library ordinance

The veto of a controversial library policy in Liberty Lake stands.

The Liberty Lake City Council on Tuesday failed to override Mayor Cris Kaminskas’ veto of an ordinance that would have given the council the power to approve or reject library policies.

The council, on a 4-3 vote, approved the controversial ordinance May 16 following months of debate among councilors and input from residents. The issue stemmed from a debate about whether certain books in the library are appropriate for children.

Less than a week later, Kaminskas vetoed the ordinance, calling it short-sighted, and suggested the council change the ordinance so that neither the council nor the mayor can revise or initiate any new library policies. Instead, the council should give feedback to the library board on any proposed policy changes with the intent to come to an agreement, she said in her veto statement.

Five councilors needed to vote in favor of the override, but Tuesday’s motion only garnered four – Chris Cargill, Phil Folyer, Jed Spencer and Wendy Van Orman. The same four councilors voted last month to pass the ordinance, while councilors Annie Kurtz, Tom Sahlberg and Dan Dunne voted against it and against Tuesday’s override.

Sahlberg said he supported the mayor’s veto because it’s what residents wanted, and that the ordinance in place for two decades has worked.

Cargill, Folyer and Spencer took issue with some of the wording in Kaminskas’ veto statement.

“I can’t imagine why we would be so afraid of an extra form of transparency and oversight, especially when it accomplishes the very thing that we were told was so important, and that is preventing the council from banning books,” Cargill said.

The vetoed ordinance said the council or mayor would not initiate a book ban, and the council would confirm or reject any books banned by the board.

Cargill said it seemed the only recourse was to dismiss some of the library board members.

Until there is more oversight, Cargill said he will not vote to approve any mayoral appointments nor any budget requests from the library. He said he will be “very skeptical” of proposals that come from the executive branch.

“I wish I didn’t have to take these steps, but I think a major trust has been broken,” Cargill said.

Kaminskas told The Spokesman-Review Thursday she hopes the council picks a councilor from each side of the issue and engages with a library board member so they can bring a solution back to the full council that everyone can accept.

“I do see there is a path forward, but it’s up to the council to really start that process,” she said.