GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT
“Dumb” is how Takoma Park councilmember Fred Schultz described it.
And dumb it was. Two of the city’s beloved, sacred cows, the library and the Nuclear Free committee, were slashing their horns at one another. Not that they wanted to, and not that they didn’t try to avoid it, but they could not resolve their differences. So, there they were, hoofing the ground at each other at the council’s June 18 meeting. The city library was appealing for a waiver to purchase computers made by a proscribed manufacturer. The Nuclear Free Takoma Park Committee was recommending the council turn the waiver down.
Takoma Park’s nuclear-free ordinance forbids the city from dealing with companies that profit from the nuclear industry – unless a waiver is obtained. Reasons for a waiver include there being no alternative manufacturer.
Meanwhile boxes of brand new Hewlett-Packard computers were sitting in the library, unopened.
And then it came up that the list of proscribed manufacturers is 10 years outdated and cannot be updated.
This was all SO dumb that Mayor Bruce Williams hinted that it might be time to re-write the city’s famous nuclear-free policy. He posed this in flowery terms, “The well-written nuclear free ordinance – for its time,” should be “something we’re all proud of.” Less flowery was his exclamation “the committee has no basis to say that!” regarding the committee’s claim that the manufacturer was still part of the nuclear industry.
There is no way the decade-old list of nuclear industry corporations used by the committee can be updated. It once was public information, but due to security concerns it is now unavailable. This makes it difficult for the Nuclear Free citizens committee to do its job – as they have warned the city council in its previous annual reports.
The computers themselves were not the problem, it is the library’s “turnkey” system that requires them. This allows them to easily manage several computer stations at once. And while there might be equivalent computers from another manufacturer, there is no equivalent turnkey system, the librarians say.
“There is no other option that supplies the same level of sophistication” at the same low cost, said library director Ellen Robbins. She said the alternative would be to discontinue some library services.
Nuclear Free committee members said that to their recollection the library said it would seek alternatives three years ago when it last contracted for the turnkey service. They said it appeared the library, until recently, did not put an effort into that search.
The council passed a waiver, but they tinkered with it to so it wasn’t open-ended. And the librarians said they would look for alternatives before the contract ran out. Really, really, they would – this time.
Undoubtedly, the library staff went right next door to the library and started opening boxes.
But, we’ve seen this movie. They’ll get the gleaming nuke-computers in place. There will be an accident, contaminating the water cooler with radiation, and the next thing you know, it’s . . .
THE ATTACK OF THE FIFTY-FOOT LIBRARIAN!
PS. Yes, we know there isn’t actually any nuclear radiation in those computers. Not that we know of . . .