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What service will Kenai let go next?

Posted: June 8, 2012 - 9:04am

Last week I attended the art opening at the Kenai visitors center and was shocked to discover that our visitors center is now the Kenai Chamber of Commerce. It appears that the City of Kenai is ridding itself of some important and desirable services. First the recreation center went to the Boys and Girls Club. Now the visitors center has gone to the Chamber of Commerce. What will be next? Readers, be alert. The library may be next.

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daddbear
2
Points
daddbear 06/08/12 - 04:16 pm
0
0
Services from Kenai

Are we really losing services or is Kenai just trying to keep up with the times and letting private industry do it? We used to be able to do more things but when the population and the economy went down, we just have to do what we have to do to keep up with the Jones's.

JOAT
487
Points
JOAT 06/09/12 - 07:08 am
1
1
OMG!!! Are you serious?!?

This is laughable. Was Ralph really "Shocked" to discover that the visitor center is now the Chamber? I wonder if he was "shocked" when ownership of Little Ski Mo or the Peninsula Center Mall changed hands. Was there any change in the services offered to make this "shocking"?

The Chamber taking the visitor center under it's management is a good step. Just like the B&G club taking over the rec center. Neither one of those ventures is a function of government. We need to trim the fat at all levels. I say, let's keep on cutting and get the services that should be a function of private industry back in the hands of private industry!

Ralph brings up a good point; I'm trying to figure out a reason why the library should be a function of government. As I see it, the library is a little used resource in our electronic information age. What are there, about 16 people left who still read books printed on paper? Welcome to the Kindle-Age. The kids don't need a public library since they have one in each of their schools. (Technically meaning that the local government is supporting at least 15 separate libraries in our Tri-Cities community... wow, that's a lot of copies of the same few books!) The community is probably being denied the existence of a good book store due to the over-population of government run libraries. So maybe we should take a look at cutting some library fat off the public coffers. Perhaps a single public library for the entire region that is enhanced with an increased user fee structure? After all, why should people get to have free access to the intellectual work of all those authors anyway? Shouldn't a book rental be more like a video rental where the "borrower" pays for the use of another's property for a period of time?

kksalm
227
Points
kksalm 06/10/12 - 10:01 am
1
0
Welcome to the Kindle age?

Why should people have access?
Government run libraries? Think of all that wasted money that could be better spent in some place other than here!
I think I'll continue to be a contributor and friend of the library in spite of your opinion. It's a wonderful environment for readers especially for young people that I notice are always engaged in their joy of freedom to read.
Have a nice day.

JOAT
487
Points
JOAT 06/10/12 - 06:13 pm
1
2
If the government doesn't do it, it won't be done

I'm so tired of that line. There are many things that the government is doing (city, borough, state, federal) that they shouldn't be doing. The government is the most inefficient manager of money, I don't know why people so freely entrust so much of their hard-earned money to them.

There is justification for a basic reference library in the schools. But where is the justification for huge public libraries run at gov't expense and spaced as close together as post offices?

If the gov't didn't have the book market cornered by handing out free books to anyone who wants one, then maybe we'd have a real privately-owned, commercial book store in this community. I'm sure an enterprising business owner could do just fine with a fee-based book rental business that were coupled with a regular for-purchase book store.

If there is support for a gov't run, public library, then it should be set up as a self-sustaining operation and employ a fee-based rental rather than just handing out free books to everyone (school kids excluded, of course).

The notion that if the gov't doesn't provide it, that there would be no "freedom to read" is ludicrous.

radiokenai
560
Points
radiokenai 06/11/12 - 07:19 am
1
0
JOAT
Unpublished

Well Said!

spybot
96
Points
spybot 06/11/12 - 10:59 am
0
0
Still run by a non-profit

The Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center has always been owned by the City of Kenai. Since it opened in 1992, it has been managed by a 501 c 6 non-profit entity, which was until recently the Kenai Convention and Visitors Bureau.

This year the Bureau and the Kenai Chamber of Commerce, also a 501 c 6 non-profit, merged to form a new 501 c 6, called the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center.

The building remains a city-owned building, and the management contract continues with the newly formed Chamber.

The City of Kenai has not rid itself of an important service, and to date there has been no discussion of the city ridding itself of the library services it provides.

jlmh
350
Points
jlmh 06/12/12 - 05:18 am
1
0
Now we should scrap the

Now we should scrap the public library? A privatized library would be great if making money was the goal, but it wouldn't serve the educational purpose as well. We'd see 50 copies of Harry Potter and nothing on microfiche. In fact, all the educational materials unlikely to pay for themselves would get scrapped. I know I don't find a whole lot of material of immense cultural value at Blockbuster. Do we really want a Blockbuster-style reading depot?

Imagine doing research where the fewer sources the better (in terms of cost). Is this what we want?

JOAT
487
Points
JOAT 06/12/12 - 07:17 am
0
2
Nice try, but let's have a reality check

Please, take a trip up to Anchorage and visit a couple book stores. Then you can report back on what kind of stuff is available at a "privatized" facility.

We are already on the verge of a "Blockbuster-style reading depot". You might want to check out what's going on with internet book rentals and devices such as the Kindle. Just like the rental of the video at a local store is losing ground to online streaming services, book buying and renting is going online. That's more money going outside to companies in NY or LA and less business in the local communities.

Now, justify why our little tri-cities community needs to have upwards of 15 government owned libraries. Don't you think it would make much more sense to consolidate those down to a more manageable number of facilities?

BTW, nobody does research at libraries anymore. Thank Google and Wiki.

jlmh
350
Points
jlmh 06/12/12 - 07:50 am
2
0
There are many topics for

There are many topics for which Wikipedia will not suffice, and a Google search will not give you the depth of information that a library's assortment of periodicals will. A trip to an Anchorage bookstore (what's left of them) will reveal what a private business offers a population of 300,000 people. We couldn't hope to host a bookstore like that on the peninsula. There's no comparison.

Note that Barnes & Noble exists despite the "competition" from Anchorage libraries, and that free market forces (e.g., Amazon) drove out Borders and Waldenbooks. Not public libraries. I enjoy my Kindle, but in terms of research material, there is almost nothing available on it. It's in the market for leisure reading. Public libraries maintain the bulk of research material, and with inter-library loan, many libraries are now able to offer a huge selection of materials without actually stocking them. Much of it is too rare or specialized for major companies to bother putting it on an e-reader, but for as long as a hard copy exists, public libraries make it available.

beaverlooper
2576
Points
beaverlooper 06/13/12 - 11:06 am
2
1
JOAT must not go actually

JOAT must not go actually into the library, if he/she did he/she would observe that the facility is well used.Much more so than the visitors center, or the baseball fields or the newly built soccer fields.Who needs a hockey rink?Why don't we have the state maintain and plow all of the roads instead of having 3 seperate entities do so in the City of Kenai.Better yet hire a contractor for the job.Perhaps we should all have our own wells and septic systems where does the government get off providing that service?We have way to many cops for the size of our population maybe the troopers should do all the police work with a community patrol.Wait!Maybe we should hire the outfit that used to be Blackwater to keep order.Why not just unincorporate the city of Kenai,no more zoning commission, no more permits to build, no more city taxes.Privitize the schools........... Or is it just culture we don't need?

jbohren
8
Points
jbohren 06/13/12 - 05:48 pm
0
0
why stop there

Lets not stop with privatizing libraries. The police and fire departments could be run by Pinkerton or ADT.

JOAT
487
Points
JOAT 06/14/12 - 07:48 am
0
1
Good Idea

That's a great idea. They could then start charging fair market value plus a profit margin for their services. If you speed or run a red-light, expect the fine to quadruple. Have something stolen? Expect to pay $1,000 to report it. And I wonder how much it will cost you to burn down your house? I'm thinking no less than a $15,000 bill for a basic fire response with an engine, 3 tankers, ladder, rescue, and ambulance plus the 2 dozen "laborers" for your basic trailer house blaze.

And then you can privatize the city counsel, parks & rec, maintenance, etc.

Whadda bunch a maroons. Go to the library and do some research on the "slippery slope". You'll find that in the Contemporary Logical Thinking section.

Privatize that which is "Not a function of Government". Police, Fire, EMS are all clearly a function of government as is maintenance of city property and the operation of public schools. Things like running a building filled with tourist-targeting advertising flyers or providing free-of-charge reading material to the general public are not necessary functions of government.

cbeard
132
Points
cbeard 06/14/12 - 10:22 am
0
0
Public works

It's important that we all support these kinds of public works in every peninsula community. On paper, it's a good idea to let private business take over, but you know what happens to private business when they have a bad year? They close up, put the property on the market, and everybody suffers because that service (which was considered essential to the community and not just one "shop") is gone. Considering the thousands of for sale signs starting to fade and rust all over the borough, it's not looking pretty either.

Most of the time the only people who can afford to take these projects under private control are Outsiders, and more often than not they don't live here full time and either A) Keep the business seasonal or B) Divert returns Outside because they need to support their own family and community. Most people don't do this to be spiteful, that's just how life is for a place that relies on tourism.

The Kenai is at a point where it's not quite rural but not close to being urban, and the long distances between sections of the same townships makes determining service needs that much more challenging. Most people want to shrug off municipal and borough control over services and institutions because of taxes and property burdens, but the truth is unless we take collective ownership of these places our social well being, and in some cases impression on tourists, will suffer. Residents need to realize that some projects are ongoing regardless of the market and profitability, like hospitals. We need to be willing to look at red ink as an opportunity to transform, not a mandate to shutter. Yes there are extreme cases in which a particular facility completely liquidates itself due to poor management, but more often than not there is plenty of opportunity to keep something as basic as a kids sports club open.

That being said, a little bit of tough love is necessary. Just like the rest of the western world all of these jobs associated with things like visitors centers, sports clubs, arts centers, etc. are viewed as charity work or something akin to charity work. The problem with this thinking is what leads to this debate in the first place, the lack of accountability. It's important for these management heads to be held as strictly accountable as management in ordinary businesses are, regardless of what type of work is being done. Being the head of a municipal hall shouldn't be a token position you get as a favor or gesture of recognition, it should be WORK.

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