Still a Private, Appointed Club

The Trustees of the Westhampton Free Library have made no move toward an elected board, though the issue has been on the table since August 12, 2015.

Yes, we hear daily about our momentous 2016 American presidential election.  We vet our candidates, listen to their platforms, and we GET TO VOTE on who we would like to see run our country.

More locally, the Port Jefferson Free Library Trustee Election will be held on Wednesday, January 13, 2016.  Four candidates are running for three positions.  The Shelter Island Library is having their trustee election on January 16, 2016.  Like the Westhampton Free Library, these libraries are association libraries.  Unlike Westhampton, these two libraries permit their taxpayers to vote for trustees. (There are 19 Suffolk County association libraries; 13 of the 19 have elected boards.)

Let’s sum up the actions of the Westhampton Free Library’s Board since August 2015.  After wrongfully terminating an employee with years of exceeds objectives performance evaluations and having a union form 31-3 at the library, a group of concerned citizen taxpayers called for the resignation of Board President Joan Levan.  On October 30, not only did Ms. Levan resign, but two other trustees resigned as well.

Under allegations of power abuse and thwarting Open Meetings Laws, Ms. Levan then personally chose which three individuals would replace the three who resigned.  One person she apparently liked and wanted to fill her shoes was Tom Moore, the husband of the Village of Westhampton Beach Mayor Maria Moore.  Ms. Levan was a key player in getting Ms. Moore elected as mayor.

On November 18, a fourth trustee resigned, leaving a total of four trustees remaining–three that were appointed by Ms. Levan on October 30, and one that was appointed by Ms. Levan approximately 2 years ago.

This personal and political friend appointee of approximately two years ago is Jennifer Mendelson, wife of Andrew Mendelson, who had (still has?) been attempting to build a new grocery store in Westhampton Beach and was hoping for new zoning on the land he owns.  Mr. Mendelson sits on the board of the Peconic Bay Medical Center; Ms. Levan was invited to join the PBMC Board.  While Mayor of Westhampton Beach, Ms. Moore was also a Westhampton Free Library trustee, sitting on the board with Ms. Mendelson.  This is what happens when we permit board appointments at institutions funded by taxpayers.  We get private, one-hand-washes-the-other clubs responsible for our public money.

Westhampton Free Library’s four appointed trustees are currently soliciting trustee applications.  They will then select the new trustee. (Or trustees?  The public doesn’t even know.  This library is permitted to have up to 7 trustees. Are we appointing one, two or three new trustees to the still private club?)  We taxpayers pay MILLIONS of dollars to the library. We should ELECT who we want to run the library.