Queens Library board members sue BP Katz, Attorney General
by Jess Berry
Aug 06, 2014 | 3107 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The six board members of the Queens Public Library (QPL) who were removed by Borough President Melinda Katz on July 23 have decided to sue the BP and New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

The lawsuit, announced last Friday, “seeks to halt a brazen, and unconstitutional, power grab by the Queens Borough President, with the aid of the State Legislature, to transform the Queens Borough Public Library from an independent, private, nonprofit corporation into an organ of City Government controlled by the Queens Borough President and Mayor,” the complaint submitted by the plaintiffs states.

Katz removed the six board members after they voted not to remove QPL President and CEO Thomas Galante after accusations surfaced of his misuse of library funding and job negligence, as well as their refusal to provide necessary financial documents to Comptroller Scott Stringer for the audit.

According to the plaintiffs, however, Katz does not have the right to remove board members. Library by-laws state that a trustee can only be removed by a two-thirds vote of the board.

Recent legislation, developed in part by Katz herself, changed that rule. The new law states that the BP and the mayor may remove board members that have been appointed by their respective positions.

Board members then have seven days to appeal the decision, which is what the set of six BP-appointed members have chosen to do. The two mayoral appointees that were removed are not plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

The plaintiff’s complaint also stated that City Comptroller Scott Stringer has “no even arguable jurisdiction” over the financial records that he requested from the board for the audit.

While the board members do not address any of Katz’s stated concerns over their support of a potentially corrupt CEO, they do accuse the BP of trying to sway their votes on various issues.

“She began dictating to the independent Trustees how she ‘expected’ them to vote on matter of management and administration, and when they deviated from her agenda accused them — in a highly public smear campaign — of violating their duties and misusing taxpayer funds,” the complaint reads.

Before the charges had been announced, a spokesperson from the BP’s office said that they were certain of the legality of Katz’s actions.

“We’re very confident that the way we went about making these removals is in full compliance with the law,” the representative said.

A court date has not yet been set for the case.
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