Commentary
10:11 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Today is Election Day

You may not know this, but today is Election Day in many places in Michigan. There are primary elections for municipal offices in a wide scattering of communities.  In Sharon Township in Washtenaw County, there’s an effort to recall a couple local officials over a bad hiring decision some residents think they made.

And you owe it to yourself to find out what’s on the ballot where you live, and then go to the polls and vote.  Most people who are eligible won’t do that today, so your vote will have more influence than it would in some elections.

Local elections sometimes have more impact on our lives that elections that get more press. And if you live in the Oakland County suburb of Troy, today’s election will have the biggest impact of all.

Last year Troy, a mostly affluent, white-collar suburb, voted to abolish its library. Granted, the ballot proposal was somewhat confusing, but that is what they did. Now, they have one last chance.

There's a proposal on the ballot that would fund the library for the next five years. It is not terribly expensive. If you live in Troy and own a home valued at $200,000, the library millage would cost you about seventy dollars a year. If you rent, you pay nothing.

If the proposal to fund the library is turned down again, that‘s it. The library closes on Friday, and Troy‘s eighty-one thousand people will be without library services. These days, if you have a library card in one city you can normally also use other libraries in the county.

But if Troy abolishes its library, other communities won‘t allow its residents to use their services either. Those who understand property values know that not having a library is going to cost Troy residents big-time, far more than $70 dollars a year.

The chair of Troy‘s economic development committee told the Oakland Press that quality of life issues, not just low taxes, are key ingredients for businesses deciding where to locate. He added, “the lack of a library would place Troy at a significant disadvantage when it comes to attracting and retaining businesses.”

The Chamber of Commerce has come out strongly in favor of the library millage. This should be a no-brainer. But you never know.

Times are hard, and there are who think libraries are no longer needed, in an age where we have amazon dot com and Google. The Troy library, by the way, was dedicated in 1971.

 Lots of us baby boomers grew up learning about science and science fiction from the great Isaac Asimov. When they opened the library, the children’s librarian asked him to write a letter to the children of Troy, and the famous writer did just that.

He wrote, “Dear boys and girls, congratulations on the new library, because it isn’t just a library. It is a spaceship that will take you to the farthest reaches of the universe, a time machine that will take you to the far past and the far future, a teacher that knows more than any human being, a friend that will amuse and console you, and most of all, a gateway to a better and happier and more useful life.”

Sounds worth $70 dollars a year to me.