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City Council To Take Up Library Board Appointments

December 2nd, 2016 · 21 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Council, Library, News and Events

Some Library Board members who recently checked out director Scott Hughes for the unemployment line are scheduled for reappointment Monday night, according to the City Council agenda.

The Library Board is self-appointed, approved by the City Council. Controversy centered on whether the legislative body only had to confirm once or also the reappointment every three years. If they were not technically reappointed by the council could it invalidate their actions? Hughes is challenging his termination for cause in court.

Directors Don Greenberg, James O’Donnell, William Holden and Phylicia Brown are listed on the council agenda for reappointment. Rosalina Roman Christy and Kenya Osborne-Grant are slated for appointment as well.

Responsibilities of Library Board members?

From the City Charter:

CHAPTER 16 – LIBRARIES

· Section 1. – Selection of the library directors.

· (a) There shall continue to be a board of directors of the Bridgeport public library which shall be responsible for the management and direction of the Bridgeport public library and shall possess all of the powers and shall perform all of the duties of library directors, as set forth in the general statutes of the state of Connecticut.

· The board of directors of the Bridgeport public library shall consist of nine members who shall be appointed, as provided in sub Section (c) of this section, for terms of three years from the first day of July next succeeding their appointment.
· (c) In June of each year, the board of directors of the Bridgeport public library shall appoint, with the approval of the city council, three persons as library directors to succeed those whose terms are to expire in that year. Vacancies in the membership of the board of directors of the Bridgeport public library shall be filled by the library board, with the approval of the city council, for the unexpired portion of the term vacated.

· Section 2. – Annual Report.

· The board of directors of the Bridgeport public library shall make the report required by Section 11-34 of the general statutes to the mayor and city council on or before the fifteenth of July in each year. Such report shall be for the year ending June 30th.

· Section 3. – Library fund.

· All moneys collected as penalties by the board of directors of the public library for violation of the rules and regulations adopted by the directors for the governance of the library and reading room or that may be collected under other rules and regulations adopted by such directors, and all fines and penalties which may be imposed upon any person for the violation of any city ordinance relative to the use and governance of said public library and reading room, shall be placed in the treasury of said city to the credit of the “Library Fund”, and shall be expended by said directors in the same manner as any other moneys credited to said library fund.

· Section 4. – Klein Memorial—Operation and management.

· The board of directors and trustees of the Bridgeport Public Library is authorized to operate and manage the Klein Memorial in Bridgeport. Such operation and management shall be in accord with the terms this charter concerning civil service, purchasing maintenance and such other laws as affect the operation and management of city property.

· Section 5. – Same—Annual appropriation for operation.

· The city council is authorized to appropriate, annually, to the board of directors and trustees of the Bridgeport Public Library such sums as may reasonably be necessary for the operation and maintenance of said Klein Memorial in the manner and under the conditions provided by law for appropriations to the city’s various departments. Such appropriations shall not affect any amount to be appropriated for library purposes.

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21 Comments so far ↓

  • John Marshall Lee

    Thank you Lennie for beginning this review of G2′s first year. By using the Charter language itself, it may lead folks to reflect upon the words in print and the behavior of city leaders in actuality.

    Perhaps behavior will change so we may get to a condition where 75% or better of all Boards and Commissions positions are filled with members serving UNEXPIRED terms. What about some simple evaluation system to guide re-appointments based on attendance, participation in meetings, and contribution to the group objective? Time will tell.

  • Bob Walsh

    I see Bob Keeley is signed up to speak at the City Council meeting. What is THAT about? Could be interesting.

    • flubadub

      Could well be Boys’ & Girls’ club issue.

    • Jimfox

      Jimfox // Nov 17, 2016 at 12:21 pm

      The city Council should vote on removing the library board members with expired terms.
      So running for political office was a behavior some members of the library board found unacceptable?

      We’re Back in the USSR, folks!

  • Common Good

    William Holden and James O’Donnell are being reappointed. The others are first-time appointments.

  • Bob Walsh

    Here is just a tidbit of the problems with the Library Board. From the minutes of the meeting dated July 20th, 2016.
    Report of the Governance Committee
    President O’Donnell administered the Oath of Office to all of the directors of the Bridgeport Public Library. Directors Baraka, Errichetti, Holden, Cunningham, Osborne-Gant, Greenberg, Brown, and Christy each swore to carry out their duties. Director Holden administered the Oath of Office to Director O’Donnell. All directors affixed their signatures to a written copy of the oath.

    But the items on the council agenda address the appointment of four members to the board. Obviously, members not approved by the City Council are allowed to participate as members, count to creating a quorum of members, apparently participate in debate and are sworn in as members even though they were never approved by the council. This is blatantly illegal.

  • Bob Walsh

    Based on what I posted above, if I were still on the council I would not approve a single one of these individuals. This is an illegal power grab by the board and puts the city at risk for many if not all of the actions taken by the board.

  • Bob Walsh

    My guess is someone decided to rush these to the council based on the legal action being pursued by Scott Hughes.
    What I don’t understand is how the Miscellaneous Matters Committee approved any of these let alone approved them unanimously.

  • Bob Walsh

    This is comical:
    Minutes from the Miscellaneous Matters Meeting

    Council Member Feliciano wanted to ask a question and Co-Chair Vizzo-Paniccia asked if Council Member Feliciano wanted to have the City Attorney present to hear the question to which Council Member Feliciano answered in the negative. She stated that she had noticed that the Committee did not receive the proper paperwork that they always get for any nominee to any Board and Commission that states their party affiliation, tax debt, criminal background, and she asked where that paperwork was.

    Co-Chair Vizzo-Paniccia stated that she had asked about that paperwork that day, saying that Sarah had some information and she hoped that Mr. dePara had some information. Mr. dePara stated that the background check and the paperwork from the Ethics Commission had not yet been completed.

    Council Member Feliciano stated that she did not think they should move forward without this paperwork that is required from everybody else, saying the process should be consistent across the board and said she would not be voting on any of the Library Board agenda items. She assured the nominees that it had nothing to do with them, but that, without consistency, she would not be voting.

    Co-Chair Vizzo-Paniccia commented that, what has been done in the past, is that the appointees would be heard from and when the paperwork was finalized, the vote could be taken without the appointees having to return because the fault was not theirs. Co-Chair Vizzo-Paniccia stated that the paperwork should have been completed.

    Council Member Feliciano told Co-Chair Vizzo-Paniccia she understood and that they could listen to the appointees to hear their credentials, but, referencing a similar situation in December where a certain person’s appointment had to be tabled for months due to incomplete paperwork, she stated that the same needs to be done in this situation.

    Good job, Milta. Try your best to keep them honest.

  • Bob Walsh

    And here is another gem.

    Council Member Martinez stated that she had a question on the party affiliation previously discussed, saying that she does not see it the Library By-laws or the Ordinance for the City of Bridgeport and asked if it was in the State Statute that the Library follows.

    President McCarthy asked Attorney Anastasi if there was a requirement for minority representation for the Library Board to which Attorney Anastasi replied that he did not believe so because it is not part of another body. He said, frankly speaking, that he did not mean to suggest that it is inappropriate for the Council to insist on following its ordinary criteria on ethics and background check, but he stated that it can be argued it is not mandatory in the situation of approving appointees, adding that he thought this would explain why the paperwork was not readily available to the Council.

    Attorney Anastasi stated that the background check and tax check could be done overnight and that it was just a matter of a meeting of the Ethics Commission being scheduled. He asked if the Committee would accommodate his request for a special meeting between the first and second meetings in November so that the Committee could meet and vote on the appointees.

    Lydia Martinez was asking about the State Statute that requires Minority Party Representation on Boards and Commissions. Mark Anastasi answered a totally different and unrelated question. Was he asleep during the meeting? Had he practiced only one answer and assumed the council would accept whatever he said?

    More pitiful embarrassment.

  • Jimfox

    That’s our Hamilton Burger for you!

    • Ron Mackey

      Speaking of Hamilton Burger maybe John Marshall Lee could ask Burger if he would have Lieutenant Tragg find out where Mayor Joe Ganim resides.

      • John Marshall Lee

        Ron, why don’t you pick up the drum beat and ask if you are interested? I have enough listed activities to accomplish. Perhaps you have digestive problems with Ham Burger? Time will tell.

        • Ron Mackey

          JML, when I was on the firefighters union executive board we asked questions about certain things and Hamilton Burger and especially Dennis Murphy would tell us it was none of our business, questions like why has the chief been off duty for so long and was he on vacation or on a personal day because we became aware he was looking for another position in other cities because we would get phone calls when he was in those cities.

  • Bob Walsh

    JG was a rolling stone;
    Wherever he laid his head is his home
    And when he’s gone
    All he’ll leave us is alone
    Hey Mama, I heard JG call himself a jack of all trades.
    Tell me, is that what sent JG to an early grave?
    Folks say JG would beg, borrow or steal to pay his bills.
    Hey Mama, folks say JG was never much on thinkin’;
    Spend most of his time chasin’ women and drinkin’!
    Mama, I’m depending on you to tell me the truth.
    JG was a rolling stone;
    Wherever he laid his head is his home
    And when he’s gone
    All he’ll leave us is alone

  • Bob Walsh

    I even remember one time when Mark A told me I had to vote on the quality of the appointment and I could not let other factors, personal or political, impact my decision.
    I told him that was exactly what I was going to do and since we do not have to say why we are voting against an appointment no one could accuse me of otherwise.

  • Bob Walsh

    So I would urge the council members to reject all recommended appointments to the library Board and to start anew. But do so on the quality of the appointment and don’t allow personal or political reasons interfere with your decision making. Wink, wink.

  • Tom White

    I would hope that clarification of the appointment and reappointment process will be shared with the city council members and the media will then share it with the public.

  • Tom White

    A background check and tax check of library board appointments to be reviewed by the city council? What kind of background check is done on city council candidates?

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