City manager and school superintendent point out what they call grand jury report inaccuracies

By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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Lincoln’s city manager and the school district’s superintendent defended the city’s and district’s operations of the Twelve Bridges Library on Monday. The two men spoke during Monday’s schools committee meeting, a joint meeting between the Western Placer Unified School District and the city of Lincoln that takes place at least every three months. The recent grand jury report on the library contained “a number of inaccuracies,” City Manager Jim Estep said. The grand jury report was released in June and responses to the grand jury from Estep, Sierra College President Willy Duncan, Western Placer Unified School District Superintendent Scott Leaman and interim library director Jon Torkelson are due by Oct. 1. The grand jury report discussed the library’s hours, funding sources and hours of operation. “The Grand Jury, after touring libraries in Placer County, noted that the Carnegie Library in Lincoln was closed. It was also noted that the Twelve Bridges Lincoln Library was open to the public on a very limited schedule and was seriously understaffed,” the grand jury stated. “Further investigation indicated that the library was hampered by severe budget restrictions and was heavily dependent on the Friends of the Lincoln Library for volunteer staffing and program funding.” One of the suggestions made by the grand jury was that the three entities “create an operating budget and itemized revenue and expense report as required by the MOU” and a new MOU “reflecting the current and future of the library site be created by the libraries.” The Twelve Bridges Library is jointly funded by the city, school district and college through a memorandum of understanding (MOU), according to previous News Messenger reports. “The MOU does need to be updated,” Estep said Monday. “The (current) MOU was put together at a time when everything was different and funding was different for everyone. It needs to be more of a living document at this point, where we keep making adjustments as funding becomes available.” During Monday’s meeting, Leaman said that he “will give a response in a timely fashion.” “Jim and I have met with Willy to look through the issues,” Leaman said. “It was a really positive meeting, and specifically from the school district’s point of view, we were looking specifically about whether or not to engage in a new MOU.” Estep also pointed out that the grand jury stating that Torkelson’s “contract was expiring” was not correct. “He is here as a retired annuitant and there is no contract,” Estep said. The grand jury also reported that “budgetary restrictions and poor communication between the agencies were found to be restricting library services.” “Communication between the three of us is more than adequate when it comes to budget hours and staffing,” Estep said. Leaman said the “library wouldn’t be up and running without the three partners.” David Gordon, who serves on the Library Advisory Board, said the three entities “need to talk about communicating from you, to the library and to the public as best you can.” “I think it’s critical because this kind of document goes out to the public and the public has a perspective,” Gordon said. During public comment, Lincoln resident Virginia Cosh asked the committee about gangs and graffiti. “How do you guys exchange information about gangs and how they are defacing property?” Cosh asked. Leaman said that “it’s rare to have gang activity on campus.” “We’ve seen a decrease in gang activity, which is different than tagging,” Leaman said. “We have a policy that any type of graffiti, within 24 hours, we contact the police. Sometimes kids tag and it’s not gang related and we rely on the police to know these things.” If it is “just graffiti,” Estep said, it’s reported and code enforcement looks at it. “If it’s gang related, we take pictures, forward the pictures to police and take it down,” Estep said.