"Privatizing Libraries" - Local Republicans' Extremist Agenda REVEALEDby Kyle Michaelis
There is a very dangerous and reactionary element on Lincoln's city council. Some of the more embarrassing exploits of Republican Councilwoman Robin Eschliman have been reported before by the New Nebraska Network (1, 2), but the de facto, self-styled leader of the far-right wing Eschliman so well embodies remains - without a doubt - two-term Councilman Jon Camp.
Camp, who ungraciously bowed out of this spring's Mayoral race to instead seek re-election, has proven himself capable of outside-the-box thinking occasionally resulting in a useful bit of perspective on the council's actions and the city's direction. But, despite his capacity to think and speak for himself, a look at Camp's statements and his record quickly reveals a man whose guiding principle is greed and whose values do not represent the voters of Lincoln - Republican or otherwise.
For a taste of Camp's particular brand of self-righteous, right-wing extremism, you need look no further than his comments reported in Wednesday's Lincoln Journal-Star suggesting that the city of Lincoln cut spending and address its biennial budget's $9 million short-fall by privatizing the city's libraries:
“Let’s be conservative, fiscally responsible, not use smoke and mirrors,” [Councilman Jon Camp] said. “Now is the time to really hit the pavement and make meaningful cuts”....Considering that Eschliman had already targeted pools, parks, and libraries for cuts last spring, there's some question whether Camp would really be alone in supporting so ridiculous an idea as privatizing libraries.
Camp said he’s suggested lots of ways to cut spending, but “No one’s done a damn thing about it,” he said. “I’ve been outvoted”....
When [Councilwoman Robin] Eschliman suggested every city goal be evaluated to determine whether it creates revenue or not, Councilman Jonathan Cook said, “We’re not running General Electric here, we’re running … government.”
You can’t really place a value on pools, parks and libraries, he said.
That inspired Camp to suggest privatizing libraries....
Councilman [Dan] Marvin was amused by that suggestion. “That might be a 6-1 vote there,” he told Camp. “You’re a maverick, there’s no doubt about it.”
Such would be an exercise in pure idelogical extremism with no concern at all for the public good. Though easily laughed away by the Democrats who still hold a slim majority on Lincoln's city council, this is the real Jon Camp we're seeing here, and there's nothing funny about him.
The sort of extremism we've seen from Camp and Eschliman in the last year shoud not be brushed aside and tolerated. It should be talked about and exposed for precisely what it is - an assault on the fabric of our communities. In fact, theirs is a war on the building blocks of a progressive society, violating the most basic precepts of democratic self-government and family values.
Camp is not "a maverick." He's a self-infatuated ideologue. Maybe that's better than Eschliman's empty business suit and empty-headedness, but it makes him no less dangerous to that which the people of Lincoln (and people everywhere) cherish and expect from their city government.
Until we are willing to address Camp, his like, and the threat they represent at precisely this level - speaking to voters' hopes but shaking them to the realization that their entire notion of community is in jeopardy - we run a very serious risk of, one day, having the smiles wiped from our faces and our dreams for continued progress shattered in one fell swoop.
Camp's not joking with his proposal to privatize libraries. Nor is President George W. Bush joking with each and every one of his out-of-touch positions. It's unfathomable, but they actually believe in their respective corporate-driven agendas. And, we should have learned by now that we can't afford to NOT take them seriously.
Nor can we count on the media to challenge them. We have to do it ourselves, keeping vigilant by speaking out and by reminding the people - at every turn - of those ideals and that vision of progress that is the best in all of us.
By exposing them for what they are, we reveal ourselves, our values, and our priorities. More than that, we remind the people of our common identity and the future we will make better by working together.
"Councilman Jon Camp wants to privatize Lincoln's libraries."
"Republicans want to privatize libraries."
It can be as simple as that. Tell that to the people - make damn sure they know it - and the rest will take care of itself.