Display at Library causes a ‘Progressive’ stir
John Yunker of Ophelia opened a can of worms last week when he objected to a display in the foyer of the Northumberland Public Library.
The display is by the Northumberland Association for Progressive Stewardship (NAPS), a group devoted to improving the environment, particularly in Northumberland County, through stream clean ups, education and active opposition to some things such as the use of biosolids (sludge) on county fields. The display is largely devoted to NAPS’ activities but about 25 percent of it is devoted to a national organization, Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL), which until recently had no formal association with NAPS except having some local members in common.
Yunker, who says he is a member of NAPS “in good standing,” views the CCL display as an exercise in “issue politics; that is to say, the display of material that seeks to promote a point of view that has political effect…” he wrote in a letter to the Library’s board of trustees. He asserts that the Library should avoid that sort of political action in the foyer just as it has done more readily recognized political materials such as candidates’ electioneering posters and the like.
According to its website, http://citizensclimatelobby.org/, CCL is devoted to “creating political will for a livable world.” It’s centerpiece goal is to have a federal law enacted that would tax fossil fuels producers beginning at $15 a ton and increasing thereafter. It expects that the producers would pass the increased prices along to consumers thereby lowering the use and demand for such fuels and reducing “green house gases” released into the atmosphere. Although consumers would be out of pocket immediately, ultimately the taxes collected would be returned equally to Americans to offset the pinch of the increased fuel costs they would be forced to pay. CCL estimates that the initial tax on producers would result in an an increase in gasoline prices of 15 cents a gallon.
Initially, library personnel were taken aback by Yunker’s objection and suggested his concern could be met by permitting those with opposing views to set up displays. When that didn’t meet Yunker’s concerns, Library Board President Lien Groenwold was given to understand that the permit for the display was given to NAPS of which CCL was not a part. By Saturday, she advised NAPS president Bill Estell, to remove the CCL part of the display not because she or the board had made up their minds on Yunker’s underlying complaint but because no display for CCL had been authorized.
By Sunday afternoon, that had changed.
NAPS and CCL member Jaty Walker said that while there was no organic connection between NAPS and CCl at the time the display was authorized the NAPS board has since adopted CCL as a “partner.”
Thus, putting it in the display was not inappropriate. He did not say when the NAPS board took that action.
Greg Haugan, who is treasurer of NAPS and spearheaded the creation of a CCL chapter on the Northern Neck, e-mailed “…the little dust-up we had at the library is resolved. The CCL component of the display has been restored and a disclaimer has been added: ‘The Existence of this Display Does Not Represent an Endorsement by the Northumberlalnd Public Library.’”.
Groenwold declined to comment of the changed situation.