Library Board Throws Book At Hughes, Soltis Named Acting Director

From Brian Lockhart, CT Post

Months short of his 10-year anniversary with the city, Library Director Scott Hughes is out of a job.

His bosses–the Library Board–voted 4-1 Wednesday to fire Hughes, who has been on probation since February because of alleged poor performance. He earns $116,000.

“I regret, perhaps, we didn’t do it before,” said William Holden, a reference to the past few months that the board has spent negotiating and sparring with Hughes and hand-wringing over his fate.

… The board named John Soltis, librarian at the Black Rock branch, to be acting library director.

Full story here.

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39 comments

  1. How many of the Library Board members who voted to terminate Scott were on the Library Board and voted to hire Scott Hughes almost ten years ago?

    Does anyone know?

        1. I’m 98% sure the five supported Mr. Hughes as first choice. He initially withdrew his name after his interview and he was asked to reconsider. I apologize in that I cannot recall who else was on the Board at the time. I think Zane Yost and Frank Borres were on the Board but I am drawing a blank on other names.

          1. I also believe all five members from last night’s action were also on the Board when Scott Hughes was hired.

      1. You noticed his bow ties and waited until now to let us know they bother you? Have you ever worn a bow tie? Many men have not (other than a clip-on type and they don’t count because you did not ‘tie’ it). When I wear a tie these days it is a bow tie similar in style to those which Scott has worn. In polite conversation I find the reason men avoid bow ties is that they do not know how to tie the knot.
        But they do know how, assuming they tie their own shoes. Same knot around the ankle is tied with different material around your neck. So easy, when you know how. Time will tell.

  2. I must say I’m troubled by this decision. I like Sauda Baraka, Bill Holden and Scott Hughes but I would like to know the legal standing that was used to fired Mr. Hughes especially since Mr. Hughes is just months away from having ten years of being employed by the City of Bridgeport.

    1. Ron, Sauda Baraka and Judge Bill Holden will give you two very different perspectives on Scott Hughes. I don’t know if they can discuss any termination. However, during ALL Board Meetings All Board members spoke at length and in detail about their viewpoints. I did not go to last night’s meeting but I am assuming Holden voted to terminate and Baraka was the sole member who voted not to terminate.

  3. I concur, John Soltis is an excellent choice as acting City Librarian; however, since Scott’s political participation seems to have been an issue with some of the board members, the Board needs to think long and hard what its official policy is. And whatever that policy is should apply to both the librarian and members of the board if public perception is an issue.
    Since we have a member of the board who actively participates in partisan politics, then to differentiate between the board and the City Librarian appears extremely disingenuous. And since John Soltis has been politically active in the past, although it has been decades since he ran for an office, I believe strict ground rules need to be established before any permanent replacement is hired.

  4. I can’t remember a more active Head Librarian (Pura Belpre aside, don’t know who she is, look her up). Scott was the driving force to get the extra monies for the library. He understands the needs of the diverse population the library serves. His activity in politics should not be a question, his stance on issues should. I’d really hate to see the city lose this tremendous asset.

    1. The Board discussed in detail with Scott Hughes present about who were responsible for the mil revenue and Scott did not dispute others who were involved and also the large amounts of time others devoted to the mil revenue.

  5. More importantly is the question of the legal composition of the board. The City Charter reads:

    (b) The board of directors of the Bridgeport public library shall consist of nine members who shall be appointed, as provided in subSection (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.

    It is my understanding the Library Board has taken this to mean that if they reappoint a member then they do not need City Council approval. However, this is a self-serving interpretation that results in a self-appointing, self-succeeding board and has a chilling effect towards anyone who might disagree with the majority of the board.

    A simple read of the language would say if the Library Board wants to reappoint a member then they should forward that individual’s name to the council. It does not give them the right to avoid council approval completely.

    This needs to be addressed immediately and I hope Scott does seek legal remedy in order to clarify this interpretation.

    1. Thanks, Bubba. This has become epidemic, as well as the norm when it comes to filling vacancies or not. The City Charter is akin to the U.S. Constitution; it must be respected and obeyed. If a change is required due to changing times, then follow the process. The last four administrations, starting from G1, Fabrizi, Finch and now G2 have perpetuated this abuse since the early ’90s. Since it’s a Charter requirement not known by the average citizen, they get away with violating it; partly because we have a City Council who are either oblivious to that Section of the Charter, or just don’t give a damn. We have a Court case pending and will not know the outcome until Monday, this court action was necessary because again the Charter may have been violated. We’ll see. This is where everyone should give credit to Maria Pereira for taking the necessary action to clarify this matter once and for all. By the way, this action did not come cheap. While she received modest financial assistance from a couple of the Board members, she raised a significant amount herself with the help of family, personal friends, and a loan. That doesn’t include the 100 or so hours of research she did herself. Say what you may, but if we had more people like Maria willing to make that enormous effort to challenge what might be a serious breach of the City Charter, we could then concentrate on the obvious problems caused by inept elected officials.

      1. For anyone interested in any part of my above comments, please note in addressing the court challenge brought against the Mayor by Maria Pereira, I inadvertently stated in initiating this move she received modest financial assistance from a couple of board members. I was wrong on that part, she raised the attorney’s fee herself, with the help of personal sources.

    2. Library Boards are self-perpetuating per state law. The members of the board appoint its members, not Mayor Ganim or the City Council.

      The City Council has no authority to submit the names of their own library board members. They just vote the proposed members up or down.

      When Finch created a Charter Revision Commission to try to appoint BOE members in 2012, Ruben Felipe was trying to have the commission amend the City Charter so the mayor could appoint the library board members, however they soon found out state statute does not grant that power to a mayor, selectman or municipal legislative body.

      1. But Maria, the charter says and you appear to be saying it too, the council approves the appointments whether they are reappointments or new appointments.
        It is my understanding reappointed directors do not go to the council for approval.

  6. Have we returned to the self-serving way Mayors use, or more commonly refuse to use the responsibility of appointment? It has been years since anyone bothered to check or confirm that all Library Board members were official until recently. Mayor Finch had a staff member review appointments and vacancies during his last year. That data is relatively new and there continue to be lots of vacancies and terms that are overdue. There continue to be some questions as to official city residential addresses for one or more board or commission members. But that is not unusual as no one on OIB has seen fit to answer the question regarding Mayor Ganim, either. Also, the City Council appoints sitting members to be liaison to outside boards and commissions. Wouldn’t you think one of the first things they might do is check on service dates? That is if they intended to actually perform a liaison function. How many times per year have CC Library liaisons been to Library meetings in the past 10 years? What info or perspective did they relate? Time will tell.

  7. HAVE ANY OF YOU ATTENDED LIBRARY BOARD MEETINGS? I saw JML last year when the lack of performance was already being discussed. Look up in OIB archives how long this has been going on. Look up the Agenda and MEETINGS on the Library website. The fact is Scott Hughes has not been doing his job for a couple of years and the decline began when he began tinkering in City Politics. For the last year plus, whenever I saw Scott Hughes, he looked unhappy. He never smiled. The rest of the Library Staff was demoralized about Hughes’ non-performance. One of his biggest mistakes was not following through on a one million dollar grant from the State. There were many other day-to-day performance issues. ALL Library Board members acknowledged Hughes’ performance early on but there has been an ongoing discussion with Hughes about getting things done. There was some periods during the overdue remodeling at the Main Branch when no bathrooms were accessible. IMHO, Scott Hughes was no longer happy here and his heart was no longer in it and it was time to move on. I wish Scott Hughes all the best and I hope a new environment will renew the fire within his soul.

    1. I was also at the meeting where Baraka first brought up the race card. Apparently, the issue of race/discrimination had never been brought up by Hughes as an issue. That night, the Library Board meeting room was packed with people and there was verbal and physical intimidation of the Board members with yelling and screaming going on. There was a motion to maintain Hughes’ employment by Baraka but it was not seconded. There was a motion to terminate but it was also not seconded although in the lengthy discussion, it was obvious four members were ready to terminate back then already. I went up to Judge Holden and asked why the Board did not vote to terminate (which actually was the purpose of that meeting) and he told me a vote to terminate was not followed through because there were safety issues due to the unruly crowd in attendance. This is all here on OIB archives if you look it up.

  8. Frankly speaking, I don’t know all the facts, nor does Frank. However, Scott has a legal responsibility not to submit grant applications that are inaccurate. By doing so, Scott would be committing fraud.
    So this could have been the typical Catch-22. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    1. Scott Hughes did not use that excuse about the grant. He assumed personal responsibility for not following through. Look it up in the minutes of the meetings.

      1. Also, look at past entries in OIB archives. Of course I am not claiming to know everything but I did attend some Board meetings as this issue unfolded and also spoke to the Board once during the public comments period.

    1. Bob. Please don’t try to de-legitimize my comments by comparing me to Donald Trump. I did not use a similar tactic against your comments here. In general, I do have a pet peeve about “handles” and my comments with handles tend to be more direct, argumentative and do have a more “in your face” tone and tenor. I am also very disappointed in the performance of Mayor Ganim, the City Council and what I consider “bad governance” in Bridgeport and my comments will reflect that extreme disappointment. Bob, I’ve always respected your comments because of your years of service and I have learned things from your comments. I do not remember an instance where I tried to de-legitimize any of your comments. We may not always agree and it seems we might have some disagreement on this issue, but on my part, I will agree to disagree with you on this issue. My understanding of your posts is you have been more supportive of Scott Hughes and it seems you disagree with the termination. Hopefully, one of these days we will cross paths and match faces to just our names here on OIB.

    1. When I spoke to the Board (Scott Hughes was present) during the Public Comments period, I asked that the Board would create a policy that the Position of City Librarian should not seek Elective Office. There might be a question of conflict of interest (which many are familiar with) but I also felt the duties of the City Librarian were so labor intensive and would probably include community involvement outside of the physical library building and also include more hours than the “standard” 40 hour work week attending community events on behalf of the library. I felt seeking and/or holding a political office would also, invariably, diminish the ability of the City Librarian to commit the amount of hours the job of City Librarian may demand.

  9. Please describe the “physical intimidation of the Board members” you witnessed. And you called the police? Or was it the Board Chairman who called the police?

    1. My comments and observations are in the OIB archives. Just input SCOTT HUGHES and everything is there as far as the OIB main posting, my comments and everyone else’s. Please look at the minutes of the Library Board meeting and there will be some detail and you can also see the time period this issue was going on. In one of my previous comments, I actually asked OIB members how anyone here or in the community could help Scott Hughes. Also in my previous comments here on OIB, I communicated why I had a personal interest in our community’s Library.

        1. I think it would benefit anyone who is really interested in this issue to get all the information and they can get a better sense of the big picture. Anything less would be a disservice considering this is somewhat of a serious situation (job termination).

  10. Here is but another example of the dysfunction that permeates the fine city of Bridgeport. The residents of Bridgeport deserves better than this, the dysfunction of political party gone crazy.

  11. But Frank, that is my point. You are not going to get all the information. Why did this happen? Was the fact Scott ran for office a problem or was it more of a problem that Scott ran against the party-picked candidate? Or was the problem Scott not only had the audacity to try but he actually succeeded in qualifying for the state funds and therefore the party had to deal with him seriously?
    Don’t think for a minute somehow this didn’t really come into play. Especially looking back on Finch and Friend (Adam Wood).

  12. If this $1,000,000 grant was the real issue, wouldn’t someone on the board simply say hire some help? Just make sure it gets done.
    I can assure you in real business that is what would happen. If you had to hire some $50-$100K help to make sure you would bring in $1,000,000 in grant revenue, you just do it. No questions asked.
    Why didn’t Judge Holden say to do it?

  13. Maria Pereira is to be complimented for actually checking the guidelines for library boards, which are detailed in State Statute, Chapter 190. Frank Gyure should be thanked for attending library board meetings and sharing his observations.

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