On July 6, Judge Henry Walsh ruled that Simi Valley legally left the Ventura County Library system in December, according to The Ventura County Star.
That means the town doesn’t have to abide by a Calfornia state law that took effect in January, which would have required Simi Valley to show cost savings before privatizing the Simi Valley Library, and to preserve the jobs and benefits of existing library staff.
Service Employees International Union Local 721, which represents library staff, and local resident Garr Wharry filed the suit, as LJ reported. The plaintiffs argued that the withdrawal amounted to a legislative act, which takes 30 days to go into effect, rather than an administrative act, which can be enforced immediately. Had Walsh backed their interpretation, those 30 days would have brought Simi Valley within the scope of the new law.
SEIU spokesman Jesse Luna said the union is considering appealing the decision.
Simi Valley had issued an RFP for operating the library and received three proposals, from • Library Systems and Services (LSSI), the low bidder at $1.4 million a year; Ventura County at $1.85 million a year; and Thousand Oaks at $2.1 million a year plus half a million in startup costs.
All three proposals were rejected because of the ongoing lawsuit, though only in the case of LSSI was there a legal impediment: In February Walsh temporarily barred the city from contracting with a private firm such as LSSI, but not from contracting with a public agency such as the county or Thousand Oaks, or from choosing to run the library itself.
The city manager’s office had recommended that the RFP be reissued if the lawsuit were resolved in the city’s favor. If it does so, Mike MeCey, a spokesman for LSSI, said the company will “absolutely” resubmit a proposal; Ventura County and Thousand Oaks said they would consider resubmitting.
In the meantime, the county continues to run the library. “Although the original agreement for the county to run the library did expire on June 30, the county and the city verbally agreed to extend the agreement for another year,” Library Director Jackie Y. Griffin told LJ. “We are working to finalize the details of a written extension of the agreement.” Griffin said budget remains about $1.85 million.
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