|(July 24, 2019, 3:40 p.m.) -- A proposal first brought to the City Council on June 10 by 2nd dist. Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce to rename LB's Main Library the "Billie Jean King Main Library" received unanimous (8-0) Council approval on July 23.
Although the Council's vote was unanimous, a number of prominent community voices opposed the action. Although all opponents praised Ms. King (born and raised in LB) for her athletic and gender-equality accomplishments, they noted that LB has already named a Rec Park tennis center; some ssaid she has no previous visible record of support for libraries or literacy efforts. Several opponents criticized the barely five week Council-steered process as insufficient to allow serious community discussion.
Supporters of the renaming cited Ms. King's support for Title IX (1972 federal law prohibiting gender discrimination in federally funded education programs or activities) in addition to her broader gender equality legacy. Some said Ms. King was a personal inspiration to them, their children and grandchildren.
At the July 23 Council meeting, twenty-two members of the public spoke, their time cut to 90 seconds each by Mayor Garcia, all of whom had waited nearly two hours to be heard. The Council meeting began with a roughly one hour presentation by Mayor Garcia, marking the Council's final meeting in its soon-to-be demolished City Hall by associating himself and LB's incumbents with the accomplishments of former Mayors and Councilmembers, several of whom attended.)
Among those speaking in favor of retaining the Main Library's current name was former LB Harbor Commissioner amd Garcia-awarded "key to the city" recipient Carmen Perez (first in line to speak.) Ms. Perez stressed that she wasn't speaking against Ms. King ("How could anyone do that?" she noted) but said the Main Library belongs to the City of LB and should bear our [city's] name. "Why strip her [the library] of that now? Ms. Perez said. When Ms. Perez reached the 90 second mark, Mayor Garcia said her time had expired. Ms. Perez replied "Are you kidding?" Mayor Garcia said all speakers would have 90 seconds and called for the next speaker.
[Scroll down for further.]
In total, 15 speakers spoke in support (including several with LB school/university sports ties, including Dan Gooch (former LB Golf Comm'n member) and Andy Fee, CSULB Dir of Athletics (letter read on his behalf). Representatives of LB's LGBTQ Center also spoke in support.
Among those in opposition were former 3rd dist. Councilwoman Renee Simon, who (as she has previously) suggested including "Long Beach" in the new name; she proposed the "Billie Jean King Long Beach Main Library." Another speaker said if it the main library is to be renamed, it should be for someone like former LB librarian Blanche Collins (with a long record of LB library accomplishments), arguing LB's main library shouldn't be renamed "like a big campaign show." Corliss Lee, an avid tennis player (and 2018 5th dist. City Council candidate) said she failed to see how Ms. King's accomplishments connect to the library, and said it shouldbe named for someone with a profound record of literacy efforts. Ms. Lee criticized the renaming process as rushed.
Most speakers in opposition favored leaving LB's Main Library name as it is with no change.
Among Council comments, no Councilmember(s) supported what most opponents sought: leaving the LB's Main Library name as it Councilwoman Suzie Price said she met a day earlier with Councilwoman Pearce and shared concerns. Councilwoman Price said she would like to see the name "Long Beach" included in the renaming (as suggested by former Councilwoman Simon) and said if there was additional discussion, she hoped whatever name the Council picked had "Long Beach" in it...but Price stopped short of making a substitute motion to do so [and Pearce didn't offer to do so.] Councilwoman Stacy Mungo said she considerd it important to maintain "Long Beach" in the name but also didn't make a substitute motion do so.
Councilman Daryl Supernaw wanted to know if there'd be a taxpayer cost involved. Mayor Garcia said he'd help library non-profits raise any sums needed to pay any costs involved. That satisifed Supernaw.
And the Council vote was 8-0 (1st dist. vacant.)
Immediately following the Council vote, Mayor Garcia played a video showing President Obama awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Ms. King.
During Council discussion earlier in the meeting, Mayor Garcia said Ms. King is the only LB individual ever awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is accurate, but called it the "highest civilian honor any civilian could be honoreed with in our country" which isn't quite true. The Presidential Medal of Freedom (awardees chosen by the President) and the Congressional Gold Medal (chosen by Congress) are the nation's two highest civilian honors (generally considered on a par with each other.) Ms. King has the former but not yet the latter.
In early 2018, Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D, LB-west OC) was among 20 House co-sponsors of a bill by Cong. Joseph Crowley (D, NY) to grant Ms. King the Congressional Gold Medal "in recognition of her contribution to the Nation and her courageous and groundbreaking leadership advancing equal rights for women and the LGBT community in athletics, education, and our society." (LBREPORT.com believes Ms. King now has residences in New York and Chicago.) The 2018 propossal was reported in QVoiceNews.com at this link.
The then-Republican majority House leadership sent HR 5001 (full text here to a House Committee where it went nowhere.
In November 2018, Democrats gained a House majority. Thus far, there's been no effort of which we're aware to date to move a similar bill.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Recommend LBREPORT.com to your Facebook friends:
Follow LBReport.com with:
Contact us: mail@LBReport.com
Hardwood Floor Specialists
Call (562) 422-2800 or (714) 836-7050