Bud Kennedy

Council critic takes yet another swipe at Browser the library cat

Browser the White Settlement library cat can stay

The White Settlement city council votes to let Browser the library cat stay, but not without some high emotions from both sides.
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The White Settlement city council votes to let Browser the library cat stay, but not without some high emotions from both sides.

Howled at by cat lovers worldwide, then beaten at the ballot box, a lame-duck White Settlement city councilman still wants to get rid of Browser, the city’s beloved library cat.

At his farewell meeting Tuesday, Councilman Elzie Clements said he wants the council to reinstate a ban on animals in city buildings. But Mayor Ronald White has ignored him, and so far Browser is not on the agenda.

“My view hasn’t changed — I don’t believe we need animals in our buildings,” said Clements, 75, a target for online scorn after he and Councilman Paul Moore voted June 14 to give Browser a 30-day eviction notice after six years as the city library’s reading mascot.

“I’m a council member and I can put anything I want on the consent agenda,” he said, referring to a list of items passed first with absolutely no public discussion: “This is definitely going to be on the agenda.”

On July 1, after complaints, Clements led a council vote to reinstate the cat. But on Nov. 8, he lost every precinct to challenger Evelyn J. Spurlock and drew 43 percent of the vote.

She and council returnee Danny Anderson will be sworn in Tuesday after council considers the consent agenda.

White, 72, defends Browser.

“Mr. Clements wants to get the last hurrah and snub his nose at everybody,” White said: “It’s like he wants to get the city back for not voting for him.”

As of Saturday, the posted agenda did not mention Browser. An “emergency” item can be added up to 5 p.m. Tuesday.

White reaffirmed Saturday by text message: “The agenda is posted. No Browser issue.”

Council member David Mann, 53, cast the one vote for Browser. The council’s eviction notice quickly triggered a social-media backlash, with Facebook commenters and readers as far away as Europe, Asia and Australia rallying for the gray tabby.

The New York Times and The Washington Post even reported Browser’s plight.

The Post asked, “If a cat librarian isn’t safe from the government, then who is?”

More than 200 cities nationwide have library cats, both as attractions and as inexpensive pest control.

Browser is even paying his own way: He’s the star of the library’s new 2017 photo calendar, on sale for $5.

“I can’t believe they would bring the cat up again,” Mann said last week.

“He’s not costing the city any money. Why act this way?”

Clements said he is concerned about a liability risk: “We just can’t take a chance.”

I’m more concerned about the clawing and scratching at City Hall.

Bud Kennedy: 817-390-7538, bud@star-telegram.com, @BudKennedy. His column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Browser the White Settlement Library cat has sparked a different controversy in the city, the role that social media played in the story.