Voters in one Louisiana parish will decide Saturday whether to devote funding for their library to a new jail.
Lafourche Parish Council Lindel Toups pushed the measure because he disapproves of some of the library’s programs.
“They’re teaching Mexicans how to speak English,” Toups told the Tri-Parish Times, referring to a Spanish-language section at one of the nine branch libraries.
“Let that son of a bitch go back to Mexico. There’s just so many things they’re doing that I don’t agree with,” Toups continued. “Them junkies and hippies and food stamps (recipients) and all, they use the library to look at drugs and food stamps (on the Internet). I see them do it.”
The special election will decide whether a portion of property taxes currently allocated to the library should instead be used to build a jail – a measure that the nonprofit organization EveryLibrary calls “the worst library election in the country.”
The library system recently saved some money during the construction of seven new branches to use for other capital improvements, including bringing its facilities and staffing up to state standards and improving its technology.
But Toups would like to raid their savings to use on projects he approves.
“They’ve got too much money,” he told the Tri-Parish Times. “We’re giving the public the chance to raise the jail money without raising taxes. Any blind man can see that.”
The library’s director, Laura Sanders, agrees the overcrowded parish jail built in 1968 and expanded in 1977 should be replaced, but she thinks Toups may have personal reasons for seeing its conditions improved.
“He does have family members that are incarcerated,” Sanders said, referring to Toups’ son and grandson, who were charged in 2009 with possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia
If the measure succeeds, the library would lose $800,000 every year for 30 years, which would account for about 11 percent of next year’s budget and create a deficit within three years.
About 43 percent of households in Lafourche Parish, which is west of New Orleans, lack Internet access at home, and more than half its residents hold library cards.
“This election has two sides and is controversial because the jail is in a deplorable state, Sanders wrote in a blog post, “but should the library have to foot the bill for its construction and operation for 30 years?”
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