Governor’s office tells librarians to ‘shhh’

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Kansas City Public Library Executive Director Crosby Kemper took to Facebook today to share that he and his fellow library-supporting activists were “thrown out” of Governor Jay Nixon’s office for “being too loud.”

Kemper
Kemper

“We were just thrown out of Governor Nixon’s office,” wrote Kemper. “We were respectful and polite and had just arrived but apparently the notion that we were slightly critical and not whispering was too much. They said they were working in Jay’s office and we were too loud we said we’ll be quieter. They said too late and had the grim state trooper throw us out and call security. It stunned every one of us. We were in fact quieter than any other office we had been in. I have never been treated like that in my 54 years of active politics.”

Kemper told The Missouri Times the librarians were in the building today expressing concerns regarding the budget and withholds – 100% of the budget for public libraries was withheld by the governor. Kemper said that some small libraries suffered from the withholds, seeing 30-40% of their total budget withheld.

“It’s a lot of money to everybody, but the small libraries were really hurt,” Kemper said, sharing that the proposed budget used the withholds as a baseline – meaning the governor did not propose allocating much funding to public libraries – an 87% cut, to be exact. “We’re here to ask that the money be restored – not for more, just for the funding to be restored.”

Kemper live tweets
Kemper live tweets

The librarians brought in hundreds of students and librarians on buses for the lobby day, and many of their office visits were successful – until they got to the Governor’s office.

“We went to a number of legislators offices, the secretary of state’s office – we did exactly the same thing in the governor’s office,” Kemper said. “They said we were too loud and needed to leave and we said, ‘Wait a second, we will lower our voices.’ We weren’t too loud, but they were answering phones – we were in the receptionist area, so I got that. We said we’d lower our voices and they said, ‘too late,’ and threw us out. I went to the guy and said, ‘This is a big mistake, we’re being respectful. We need to find a way to make this work, not to throw us out.’ That wasn’t good enough for him and then they slammed the door in our face and all of the sudden, there is all this security posted around the governor’s office.”

Security for librarians?

“They lied to us – they told us the Governor wasn’t here and he was,” Kemper said.

They had scheduled an appointment with the governor’s staff to discuss the concerns, which was not honored – even in one of the many Capitol conference rooms or the hallway.

“We had an appointment to talk to someone in the Governor’s office,” Kemper said. “We had an appointment and instead of arranging a meeting someplace else where we could have a normal conversation, they decided we were too loud and threw us out. If that’s the way they handle their appointments, no wonder they’re lying to us.”

"Our crew. The children's crusade! On to Jeff City." Courtesy of Crosby Kemper
“Our crew. The children’s crusade! On to Jeff City.”
Courtesy of Crosby Kemper

Kemper said the other visits were friendly and fruitful.

“Everyone else we met, legislators were happy to talk to us,” Kemper said. “Everyone was being very friendly, very respectful, even when we were critical.”

Kemper has been the executive director for the Kansas City Public Library for several years, is also the chairman for the Show-Me Institute, and formerly served as CEO of UMB Financial Corporation.

“There was a large group that did come to the Governor’s office today into the reception area,” said Scott Holste, press secretary to Gov. Jay Nixon. “I’m not aware that they had an appointment, but they certainly were given the opportunity to have representatives of their group speak one at a time about their concerns, while they were in the office. Because it is a working office and there were meetings going on in some of the surrounding rooms, when the group became rather loud, they were reminded of this before being politely asked to step out into the hall.”

Featured: the iconic Kansas City Public Library parking garage

Rachael Herndon is the editor at The Missouri Times, but also produces This Week in Missouri Politics and publishes Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in 2014, returning to political reporting after working as a campaign and legislative staffer.

Rachael studied at the University of Missouri – Columbia. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Brandon, and their two children.

To contact Rachael, email rachael@themissouritimes.com, or via Twitter @TheRachDunn.