This wasn't how Cobb library lovers thought they would be observing National Library Week, which began this morning.
Instead of encouraging their fellow citizens to patronize county libraries in the usual and unremarkable ways, they've been busy organizing a rapid lobbying effort to save the library system from being gutted in wake of serious Cobb budget deficit concerns.
Since it launched late Friday afternoon, the "Save Cobb Libraries" Facebook page has generated 1,636 "likes" and plenty of comments from surprised and bewildered citizens, many taken aback by commission chairman Tim Lee's proposal to close 13 of the 17 county libraries, including the East Cobb and East Marietta branches.
While those are impressive social media measurements, the behind them are real and unfortunate. With little time to spare before Tuesday's Cobb Board of Commissioners vote on the rest of the fiscal year 2011 budget, many citizens were taken completely off guard.
Many of their comments were along the lines of what Tom Vaughan wrote on the SCL Facebook wall:
"Closing down 76% of our libraries is like setting up Cobb County to become a basket case in the future. The effects of closing the libraries won't be immediate but, in 5-10 years, Cobb County will be less than what it is today. The commissioners need to rethink this policy."
And that's along the lines of what we've been getting all weekend from our own readers, including one who goes by the name Copperfield:
"It is not only that this is being done, but the way it is being done before anyone finds out about it! Instead of taking candy from babies, our commissioners are taking books from babies. How sad that these are supposed to be leaders!"
The fact that Cobb citizens are having an actual debate about raising the millage rate even a modest amount is worth noting. Only Lee and commissioner Helen Goreham suggested this possibility when the $31 million budget deficit was revealed; East Cobb commissioners Bob Ott and JoAnn Birrell were resolutely opposed.
But that was before Lee wielded his cleaver in the pages of The Marietta Daily Journal Friday morning.
2. Even before Lee also proposed to close two senior centers -- the East Cobb Senior Center would be spared -- advocates for Cobb's elderly citizens were generating some email campaigning of their own.
As April began, Cobb Senior Citizen Council president Nyshia Lanier sent a budget-related note at the top of the county's monthly senior citizen email blast encouraging seniors to let their voices be heard. The phrase "bare bones budget" was used, but Lanier concluded:
"You may have noticed that I have not told you what I think you should say. I would not presume to do so. I think that you will understand the choices and advocate for what is best for the seniors of Cobb County."
3. East Cobb commissioner JoAnn Birrell has appointed financial investigator Laurie Dyke to the Citizens Oversight Committee, which the commissioners created last December to review the county's financial picture. Dyke, who works for the Investigative Acccounting Group, replaces Chuck Casto, the deputy regional administrator for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Center of Construction Inspection in Atlanta. He's been in Japan since the recent earthquake and tsunami threatened the security of a nuclear power plant.
4. If you're the parent of a Walton High School senior, today is the deadline to apply for a Raider Pride Scholarship. Your child must have won at least one Raider Pride Award during his or her four years at the school. Applications must be completed and turned in to the guidance office by 4 p.m.
If you're the parent of a Walton junior or sophomore seeking HOPE Scholarship information, there will be two meetings at the school on Thursday to help your long-range planning. The 6 p.m. meeting is for 10th grade parents, with the 7:30 p.m. meeting for 11th grade parents.
5. Another early April "scorcher" is in store for East Cobb today, with a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms threatening another sunny day with temperatures in the mid-80s. The winds could kick up to 15-20 mph by the afternoon.
Given last week's nasty weather, I hesitate to use the word "only" before the 20 percent.