Maryland Library Event Rolls Back Scheme Charging White People More

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, Jan 26, 2024 - 12:40 AM

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

An event being held at a public library in Maryland is no longer charging different rates for white men and others after backlash from county officials.

The Germantown Library in Germantown, Md. (Google Maps)

The event was charging white male vendors $275 or $325 and businesses owned by women or minorities $225 or $250, according to a vendor application reviewed by the Washington Times.

The event, MoComCon 2024, is slated to be held at Germantown Library and BlackRock Center for the Arts.

County officials initially defended the decision and promoted the event widely on social media.

The vendor pricing scheme is “a specific push to especially attract that type of vendor so that attendees who were also focused on trying to reach minority, black and brown communities, that they have vendors as well,” Mary Anderson, a spokesperson for Montgomery County, told the Washington Times. “Many minority vendors and younger startups and that sort of thing. They generally are in a financial position that it may benefit them if there is a reduction in price.”

The event is being organized by Friends of the Library, Montgomery County, a nonprofit.

“The vendor pricing reflects our joint commitment to promote inclusivity in library programming and expand opportunities for groups who have been underrepresented in this industry,” Ari Brooks, executive director of the group, said in a statement.

But the county is now saying the scheme is not allowed.

“The disparate pricing on vendors that has occurred between the Friends of the Library Montgomery County, Inc. (FOLMC) and BlackRock Center for the Arts is not permitted,” Scott Peterson, another county spokesperson, told The Epoch Times via email on Jan. 23. “The County did not approve nor condoned this decision. FOLMC corrected the situation as soon as they were made aware by the Montgomery County Public Libraries.”

The vendor application listing the different rates is no longer on the FOLMC website. The current version lists rates of $125 or $175, depending on whether vendors need access to electricity. There is no mention of race or gender.

Mr. Peterson did not respond when asked whether Ms. Anderson was misquoted and, if not, how her comments were not in support of the scheme.

County Executive Marc Erlich, a Democrat, was among the officials who promoted the event in press releases and social media posts. Laurie White, another county spokeswoman, also posted a promotion of the event that included the different vendor rates, according to a screenshot captured by the Montgomery County Republican Party.

Mr. Erlich told reporters in a press conference he did not know about the scheme.

If they’re doing it, I can’t see how that’s not illegal. We’re pretty clear that we don’t have different rates for different races,” he said.

Federal law says that “all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall have the same right in every state and territory to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, give evidence, and to the full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of persons and property as is enjoyed by white citizens, and shall be subject to like punishment, pains, penalties, taxes, licenses, and exactions of every kind, and to no other.”

FOLMC did not respond to an inquiry. Ms. Brooks told a local blog that the group was told by Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) that it could not charge different rates based on race or gender.

Our efforts to support MCPL’s goals for promoting inclusivity inspired our initial pricing and, under updated county advisement, the vendor pricing has been adjusted,” Ms. Brooks said.

FOLMC describes itself on its website as a group of concerned citizens that has a mission of strengthening, promoting, and championing the county’s public libraries “to better serve the learning interests and needs of the diverse and changing communities of the county.” In a statement on its site, the nonprofit says that the group “has long supported the pursuit for racial equity and social justice in Montgomery County,” in part by “regularly review[ing] all programming and assess[ing] efficacy through a racial equity lens.”

The group is primarily funded through the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, which itself receives funding from the county government.

The BlackRock Center, another non-governmental organization (NGO), also receives funds from the county government.

The county Republican party (MCGOP) said that the promotion of the county of the event, including the post from Ms. White, showed “this was clearly a county policy issue with an event by county-sponsored NGOs in a county building promoted by the county.”

What would happen if this situation were reversed? What if the pricing had blacks and minorities paying more? The media would be up in arms,” it said. “This time, equal opportunity won. The MCGOP stood firm in the commitment that pricing by race, gender, nationality, or sexual orientation is wrong, and the county has instituted equal pricing for all vendors at the new date.”

The event was supposed to happen on Jan. 20 but, due to inclement weather, was rescheduled for March 2.