On the same day the Queens Library’s board of trustees voted down a proposal to suspend Thomas Galante last week, a group of state and city elected officials stood on the steps of Borough Hall to present a plan to reform the board of trustees and prevent future exorbitant spending practices.
The legislation, introduced by Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry and State Senator Michael Gianaris, includes the creation of an audit committee to oversee the library’s accounting and spending practices, cuts board of trustees term limits from five to two years, and would require board members to either live in or operate a business in the borough.
“The legislation focuses on the governance of the library so that the services it provides can again be an inspiration to the entire borough,” said Aubry.
The board would also be granted the power to remove their trustees for malpractice - with the ability to appeal - and require the full financial disclosure of the executive director, key library executive personnel and staff.
“The bill would immediately rein in the excess of the Queens Library and provide a long-term blueprint for efficiency, transparency and accountability,” Gianaris said.
After news that the board was left with a split 9-to-9 decision to suspend Galante, Borough President Melinda Katz released a statement condemning the vote.
“I am disappointed that last night’s split decision of the board of trustees defeated the motion to temporarily remove Tom Galante from his position,” said Katz, who last week called on Galante to, at the very least, take a leave of absence.
She added that she is pleased to hear that the board has already begun implementing parts of the reform proposal.
“While the board of trustees is slowly beginning to implement one or two of the reforms in the bill, there is still much work to be done,” Katz said. “Unfortunately, the board of trustees missed an opportunity to restore faith in the institution by its vote.”
State Senator Tony Avella said Katz did not taken a stronger stance on removing Galante from the board.
“Borough President Katz’ statements do not go far enough in addressing this outrageous situation, which continues to unravel,” Avella said earlier last week. “I continue to strongly urge Mr. Galante to either immediately resign or be let go from his position. His ability to raise funds for the Queens Library is significantly, if not completely, diminished.”