Ex-Librarian Writes Book About Flag Flap

Posted: 6/7/2006 11:30:00 PM
Author: Bill Scanlon
Source: www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/ local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_4752978,00.html

Note from Librarians for Fairness: The main branch of the Boulder Public Library remains extremely biased against Israel in its programs, largely initiated under the aegis of so-called "outreach." This has been going on for years. As such is the deplorable situation there, the news item posted below is not at all surprising to us.

Ex-Librarian Writes Book About Flag Flap
by Bill Scanlon

Rocky Mountain News
June 6, 2006
BOULDER - Just in time for Flag Day, a former Boulder librarian has come out with a self-published book about the infamous post-9/11 flag flap that caught national attention and he says cost him his job.
When Boulder's library director nixed his idea for a large American flag in the front entrance, but approved a display of 21 ceramic penises, his star started falling, said Christopher J. Power, author of Long May they Wave.

Power, who wrote the library's master plan, said he found himself snubbed by library officials and ultimately laid off.

"It was a combination of political correctness and maybe some retaliation involved," said Power, who lives in north Boulder and has been unemployed since being laid off from the library in late 2003.

After 9/11, when America was in a patriotic fervor, Power proposed to library director Marcelle Gralapp that they hang a 10-foot-by-15-foot American flag in the foyer, which is mostly glass and has a 41-foot-high ceiling.

Gralapp gave an initial OK but later nixed the idea after a library manager with extreme anti-American ideas had a talk with her, Power said.

The story reached the press, and Gralapp initially told reporters that an American flag "could compromise our objectivity. We want people of every faith and culture walking into this building, and we want everyone to feel welcome."

Gralapp's comments about objectivity didn't play well with the American public. She then said the problem was the size of the flag - that library patrons would have to brush aside the flag as they entered, Power said.

The book includes an illustration that shows the bottom of the flag would still be 21 feet above the library floor.

Power said Gralapp was extremely politically correct, not allowing red poinsettias at Christmastime because they might be seen as Christian symbols but insisting on ordering evergreen swags for the check- out desks that had ribbons in the official colors of Kwanzaa.

"That was a long time ago, and I'd just as soon not get involved in it," said Gralapp, who retired in 2003 after 40 years with the library.

For many, the irritating thing was that the American flag was banned, but a piece of art - Hangin' 'em Out to Dry, featuring 21 ceramic penises - was allowed in the same space.

Susan Walker, the artist, said at that time that the piece was part of a display about domestic violence.

Some mothers complained that their kids had to see the display when they walked into the library, but library officials said the children's section is more easily accessed by a side entrance that avoided the artwork.

Boulder resident Bob Rowan took the artwork, stored it at his house then handed it over to the police. No charges were pressed against Rowan after the artwork was returned.

Meanwhile, Gralapp was getting ready to retire, and Power showed interest in the head job.

At the same time, word got around that he was the one who leaked the story about the banned American flag to the press, something he denies.

He was told his position was the only one at the library being eliminated because of budget cuts.

But then a new policy was enacted giving laid-off employees preference to land other jobs in the city for which they are a reasonable fit.

Power said he applied for the top job, had support from several colleagues but got lukewarm interest from those doing the hiring. Ultimately, he got an interview and was named a finalist, but someone else got the job.

Eileen Gomez, the city's human resources director, said the policy for displaced employees is still in place.

"There is no guarantee," she said. "It doesn't say that they will be hired."

Gomez and other Boulder city officials said they couldn't comment specifically on Power's case.

The day after the job went to someone else, Power found out who in fact had given the story to the press.

It was a septuagenarian, Hazel Cowan, who for nine years had read books to kids at the library during story hour. She casually mentioned the flag flap to a neighbor whose husband works at the Boulder Daily Camera, who passed the tip to a reporter.

Power says he has no grudges.

Cowan said she's never been back to the public library since it banned the flag. "I walked out," she said. "I had brothers in the service; I had a husband who was in the liberation of Dachau. I could never turn my back on the flag."

Published by his own Picea Press, Power's book should be in some area bookstores in time for Flag Day, June 14.

Former Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm says the book is "a shocking report from the front lines of America's political-correctness battlefield."

Long May they Wave is also available at longmaytheywave.com.