Holland, Michigan, Trounces Filter Mandate

Article excerpt

Voters in Holland, Michigan, soundly defeated by 55% to 45% a ballot measure February 22 that would have required the city to withhold funding from the Herrick District Library unless it installed filters on all its public Internet workstations (AL, Jan., p. 22-23). The initiative appeared on the Republican presidential primary ballot, which drew 41% of registered voters--12% more than the 1996 primary.

HDL spokesperson Gary Pullano told American Libraries that the anti-filter-mandate group Families for Internet Access "contributed to the downfall of the ordinance" by "communicating the flawed process" that its enactment would have triggered. The measure stipulated that Holland withdraw all $1.2 million it pays the four-municipality system if HDL officials refused to filter.

Additionally, Pullano said, "many people took offense" at the involvement of "outside forces." Local media had published widespread reports of the Tupelo, Mississippi-based American Family Association's having given the local chapter some $35,000 to campaign for the measure's passage. There was also the unwelcome "aura of presidential politics" created by former Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes, who had scheduled a campaign stop at the library February 9--only to cancel that same day and withdraw from the race (AL, Mar., p. 14).

"This is not the end," LoriJo Schepers, cochair of the Citizens Voting YES! To Protect Our Children committee, said in the February 23 Holland Sentinel of the initiative's defeat. "God has called us to this."

Emphasizing that the HDL board "is open to dialogue," Pullano said that trustees "still aren't interested in filtering." Nonetheless they attended a demonstration of SmartGuardian blocking software at the Gary Byker Memorial Library in nearby Hudsonville on March 8. The event occurred on the day Internet service was restored there, thanks to the February 23 rescission of a two-month-old filtering ordinance enacted to avoid placing a Holland-style measure before Hudsonville voters. …