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Library Board Checks Out Hughes’ Job Performance

February 11th, 2016 · 28 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Politics, Library, News and Events

Scott Hughes

City Librarian Scott Hughes

City Librarian Scott Hughes has experienced growing pains with the Library Board that includes a successful voter referendum achieving more annual funding for upgrades and new buildings. Lately however, each side considers the other a pain in the butt.

Will they part ways or make peace? In the last few years Hughes has become politically active running a failed primary against then-State Senator Andres Ayala. Two years ago he won a seat on the Democratic Town Committee in the Upper East Side 138th District. He has built political alliances supporting Joe Ganim over Bill Finch in last September’s Democratic primary.

Wednesday night the Hughes’ battle with the library board spilled out publicly. CT Post reporter Brian Lockhart has more:

It is usually easy to distinguish fiction from non-fiction at the downtown library.

Not so much Wednesday night, on an upper floor, where Library Board members gathered with Library Director Scott Hughes to decide if and how to deal with his alleged poor performance.

The debate was ultimately continued to a coming meeting.

Meanwhile Hughes, whose supporters hail him as the best, most visible Bridgeport library director in years, filed a court action this week challenging whether some board members are serving illegally.

“It’s not personal,” Hughes said in an interview. “But if I’m to be held accountable, they should be, too.”

Full story here.

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28 Comments so far ↓

  • Steven Auerbach

    I thought Scott Hughes was getting things done. New library for East End as well Beardsley Park. Guess everyone should be held accountable as Mr. Hughes said!

  • Frank Gyure

    Considering all the discussion about conflict of interest, Mr. Hughes should make a decision. I regard the Bridgeport Public Library a part of City Government (some may quibble on technicalities). Mr. Hughes needs to decide if he wants to remain the Library’s Director–which should be an apolitical post–or he should resign, get a job in the private sector and pursue a political career.

  • Lisa Parziale

    Scott Hughes has no conflict between his position and his politics. His accomplishments are well-known, as well as his competency. This is a classic example of why Bridgeport takes one step forward and two steps back. A library system that is finally working and expanding, and petty, opinionated people hone in with foolish comments. Leave him alone and put focus on matters that need fixing. There’s plenty, make your choice.

    • Frank Gyure

      Many people have shown high regard for Mr. Hughes but I do still stand by my statement he needs to make a decision–an apolitical librarian OR elected official serving the community with employment in the private sector.

  • Ron Mackey

    I like Scott Hughes but if Bill Holden is telling Scott something then Scott needs to pay attention because you won’t find a more honest and respected person than Bill Holden. Scott, don’t let ego get in the way of doing what’s right.

  • Joel Gonzalez

    I ran into Scott about two months ago. I asked him what was he planning to do as far as running for office goes. He told me he was not joining The Town Committee in the 138th and not running for office. “I have a lot of work ahead with the construction of the new libraries and I’m spending all my time to make it happen.” These types of situations always come up. As soon as the funding and planning for these types of projects are ready to go, someone comes along to try hijacking the vehicle of the original owner of the car.

  • Bob Walsh

    I have known Scott since he came to town.
    I believe he has been very good for the Bridgeport Library system.
    There is much more going on here than meets the eye. I do not know what that is but it cannot be good.
    “I don’t know how shortsighted it is when you sue the people who hired you,” said one Library Board member, Judge William Holden. A judge is telling Scott he should not seek redress through civil action if he believes he is being harmed? Wow. That’s pretty bold.
    He has been on the job for eight years and only now does Jim O’Donnell, the board president, mention that staff “rebelled” within four months of Hughes’ hiring but the board continued to have his back. What does that mean? My take would be they continued to have his back because he was doing a good job.
    Or how about this? O’Donnell added, “Reports often are he is simply absent from the office and unaccountable for his time.” Mr. O’Donnell, Scott reports to you and the board. Are you now saying you don’t know what he does and where he is? Is this an on-going problem with the Board and its President or are others whining whom you are now paying attention to?
    Seems like quite a mess that is not going to get straightened out quickly and easily.

    • Jennifer Buchanan

      One board member was very vocal and very unhappy when Scott did not clear his run for office, or ask their permission were his words, as I recall. That was the first time I heard anything negative about Scott from a board member.

    • Bob Walsh

      After thinking about this some more …
      DOUBLE WOW!!!
      A Judge in the state of Connecticut cautioning an individual against using the courts to seek proper remedy and basically challenging him with employment retaliation.
      Man, that takes balls.

      • Frank Gyure

        And Bob, you also mentioned in another post, R. Christopher Meyers, City Attorney, is getting involved in this. What do we make of that???

      • Ron Mackey

        Bob, judges at times in order to speed up the process and to resolve an issue will ask to meet with both sides in their chambers to see if things can be worked out instead of going through the court system. Sometimes people talk past each other and sometimes we need to slow down to see where you are, sometimes.

    • Frank Gyure

      Bob Walsh, what is your take on Scott Hughes’ dabbling in politics? Should the Director of Libraries in the City of Bridgeport be allowed to go all-out political, or should, whoever is in this position, be NON-political?

      • Bob Walsh

        Frank, I personally do not see a conflict unless you are calling interference by the mayor or his staff a conflict.
        Now if Scott had been elected State Senator there may have been scheduling conflicts and conflicting demands on his time but not conflicts with his duties. As I understand it he had sought and been given the board’s approval to run for State Senate.
        As to the DTC, many other highly compensated city officials or immediate family members have sought and served on the DTC.
        I do believe if Scott had been elected senator he could have established many positive friendships in Hartford within the legislature and the administration that could have been very beneficial to the city.

    • Library Lover

      It is an ongoing problem many tried to bring attention to years ago and it got brushed under the rug then by the Board which is now seeing the error of its ways.

    • Lisa Parziale

      Bubba, I think you have something there.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    We know what Scott Hughes is doing, the question here is What in hell is the library board doing. Let me remind the board we the people of Bridgeport own the libraries and all the books. They are just the caretakers.

    • Frank Gyure

      DO WE REALLY REALLY know what Scott Hughes is doing???

      • Library Lover

        No, you don’t know what Mr. Hughes has been doing for several years other than being unreachable and unresponsive.

        • Joel Gonzalez

          Library Lover, right off the line you’re coming off more like a Scott Hughes hater. From my viewpoint as Library user (visit the library and its only service) I can only give great accolades to the Library staff for their professional service and going above and beyond to help library users. Should I congratulate the library board, Scott Hughes or both?

    • Phil Smith

      In the absence of evidence to the contrary I’m prepared to believe they are doing their job.

  • John Marshall Lee

    Scott Hughes is a library professional who believes in providing services throughout the community. When he came to town the Library budget had been flat for several years. Others can talk about the internal issues that get so twisted during such a period, only the public loses through ideas failing to be provided or workable, opening hours are cut, and standing still is really a formula for falling behind. The Black Rock Library had been closed tight for several years. Finally, in Fabrizi’s final year State Capital funds were found.
    Scott also had an idea based on knowledge that was put before the public at the polls. And it won with the people, though opposed by the then “accountable Mayor.” (Wasn’t that a wakeup call to City political leadership?)

    The Library budget under the new form was prepared to build and staff two other neighborhood libraries on the East End and East Side. Funds were allocated, but the election “loss” by the administration proved difficult for City Hall and City Council, including CC liaison, to move along rapidly. But today three sites (not just two) are being developed for first-class libraries that serve as beacons in all neighborhoods to learning, technology, communications and lots of programs of diverse nature.

    Internally I sense in some ways much has changed, but there is always a Bridgeport resistance factor. And more than that I sense the Library administration has been very lean for very long. Is there adequate dedicated staffing that would provide a means for monitoring Library operations or better providing a prompt and meaningful response on the part of the Library Chief? I have observed before the Library Board on average has more learning years under their caps than any other City board or commission. However, have they taken the time to be sure terms are not expired, evaluations are part of process, and public access is present?

    I just attempted to find the Library Board listing. Where other City Departments are located with very thin and often inaccurate or incomplete data, the Library offers a wonderful and colorful site with much for the public to enjoy. What I did not see was a listing of all Board members with their address, contact and terms. There is info for Board and Committee meetings, a copy of their budget and direction over a several-year period, as well as a statement of purpose and Master Plan. Every other G2 Department might take a look at this site for inspiration in communicating with their public. By the way, all City budgets have SYSTEM INDICATORS or a scorecard if you will for how they are doing in various areas. Perhaps the Library might move their own data and make it a Community Report Card with data covering multiple years.

    The opportunities are yet there. Will the team that got the public this far, take us to this promised land? Time will tell.

  • Bob Walsh

    It seems like the Library Board wants to micromanage their director rather than provide a strategic plan and allow their director to implement it.

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