Email to the Editor: Observing the Library Annexation Issue from 30,000 Feet

Rich Elfers pulls back for a different perspective on the idea of self-sufficiency as it relates to management of the Enumclaw library.

Surprised over the furor of the King County Library System annexation vote? I have been. As chair of the pro-statement committee I’ve been in the heat of the battle to annex the Library.  But this week, I decided to remove myself from the fray for a short time and hover at 30,000 feet to see this issue from a more detached point of view.

Why is this a big issue? Why does (not) controlling our own library rouse so many deep emotions? Did we make such a big fuss over Starbucks coming to town? After all we’re not controlling our own coffee consumption.  Why no emotion over that?  How about Safeway or QFC or Walgreens to name a few multinational corporations that now take up space in our town?

Is it because of giving over the fire department to Fire District 28? Or is it a deeper issue? Is it the illusion of control that we who live in a small rural town believe we can avoid the changes that are happening all around us in our nation and the world?  Is it due to the illusion of self-sufficiency that we who don’t live in big cities hold?

I ask these questions because when I first came to Enumclaw to live on a 10-acre farm south of town in 1978, I came in part because I wanted to be able to grow my own food and raise my own meat—to be self-sufficient.  After I shoveled manure and fixed barbed-wire fences for a while I began to think: Where does the barbed wire come from, or the fence posts, or the grain I fed my cattle with during the winter? They’re all imported into Enumclaw from somewhere else!

Being self-sufficient is really an illusion because we are so dependent on so many things outside of our city or even our region or our nation—Think gasoline. 

That’s when as I mentally hover at 30,000 feet above Enumclaw I find myself being bemused by the furor and the fear that has been generated by the upcoming vote on library annexation. Is it really such a big deal to be incorporated into KCLS? If we aren’t upset that we don’t control our Starbucks coffee or the food we eat from Safeway and QFC, why do we get so upset about having KCLS control our library?

Richard Elfers/Chair
Pro-statement Committee

Chance LaFleur April 06, 2012 at 03:03 PM
I read this letter and feel almost saddened by its comments. I don't know if I have heard something, just so... "not-Enumclaw". I was born and grew up in this town and know its people to be resourceful, caring, and over all concerned for what goes on in our city. To tell such a great group of people that we can't "avoid" the changes going on around us, is in my opinion, absurd. Just because KCLS operates several libraries, does not mean that it is the best answer for Enumclaw. I know Enumclaw to be proud of what we can provide for ourselves, and I don't believe we need KCLS to keep our library open. Also, to compare our library to a private business is just way to left field for me. Starbucks cannot levy a tax against your home to support their operations. And I don't know about others "not controlling our own coffee consumption", but last time I checked, there was not a transfer agreement transferring everyone's coffee or grocery purchases from smaller local operators to those national brands. While I am not against any of the businesses mentioned, I just don't see the comparison. So, to everyone, get out there, get the facts you need to make your decision, and vote on what you want to happen to our library. Give it to KCLS, or not. It is up to everyone to decide as a town, and I don't think we need a "30,000 foot" look, we're all in this together, right in the thick of it. Vote with your heart and mind, not someone else's comments.
ItchieFeet April 07, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Rich, I can't believe you are so way off base on this statement. Just what in the world does Safeway, QFC and Starbucks have to do with what is part of the history of Enumclaw? Enumclaw in the very recent past has given up control of their Fire Department which has been a part of the town for a lot of years. They did not utter one word about giving up their hospital that they had supported for years and then after being told the new supporters would not change the name they gave up that piece of identification too, all without protest. Now they want to give up the library without even making an effort to support it in the community where it was founded. Where are the "people" of Enumclaw? Keep going like this and it will soon no longer exist. If we are to have a library in Enumclaw then what we pay should keep it in Enumclaw. It is part of the history of Enumclaw.
Nick April 12, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Is voting against annexation a symptom of the "culture of fear" in Enumclaw, Rich? The library is NOT a PRIVATE BUSINESS. It is a PUBLICLY funded institution owned by the taxpayers of the city of Enumclaw. We don't control our local PRIVATE businesses because we don't live in the old Soviet Union. So quit posting your straw man arguments. Secondly, your inane rambling about the changing world and self reliance is rather peculiar. This vote is about giving up local control of the library to the whims of the King County Library System. If the people of Enumclaw are fine with giving control to unelected bureaucrats with taxing power, please by all means vote to give control to them. And just in case you forgot to mention, this will increase taxes on people living in the City of Enumclaw. Why on earth should we be considering to vote to increase taxes during a recession? The city council voted to keep the taxes at their current rate even if the annexation passes. If we have to raise taxes for the library, I would rather have it raised locally which is MUCH easier to reduce in the long term. Mr. Elfers, you are so flippant about people in Enumclaw being angry about losing control and sovereignty over their city, why is that? Why is it that we were only given two options (according to you of course) to either close the library or give control to the KCLS, when other options were on the table? I am now reminded of why I did not want to vote for you last year...
Alison Haywood April 24, 2012 at 07:22 AM
"Why on earth should we be considering to vote to increase taxes during a recession?" Because that's what you DO during a recession. You don't increase taxes when the economy's doing well.


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