Those in favor of an elected library board bring to bear things such as:
- no taxation without representation
- the basic right to vote in a democracy
- the hypocrisy of voting for Village trustees and mayor and school board members, but not for library trustees
- the majority of association libraries in Suffolk County have elected boards
- there are no tax or financial implications in moving to an elected board
- the objective NYS ED guidelines for an Association Library District Model that allow for trustee elections
- the chance that appointed boards become private clubs, where trustees are possibly unable to act independently and scrupulously due to friendship alliances which may lead to abuses of power (witness multiple employee lawsuits, union formation, and the necessity of five trustees to resign within two months at the Westhampton Free Library)
- the fact that the WHF Library is a taxpayer funded institution
- those appointed typically do not like to hear from reformers (witness Iran, North Korea, Russia, etc., places governed without a system of checks and balances)
- the glaring “what is wrong with this picture” when trustees who are resigning under allegations of power abuses can appoint their successors
Taxpayers have presented multiple arguments with teeth and precedent (see above) for seven months in favor of an elected library board at the Westhampton Free Library. Month after month we have asked for a mature public discussion on the topic only to be met with stonewalling.
There has not been one argument/defense in favor of an appointed board presented by anyone, anywhere, at any time.
The resistance, the stalling, the lack of transparency and accountability, the unwillingness of the Board to promote healthy public discourse on an important topic—these are things we thought Americans and taxpayers railed against.
The Board is simply kicking the can down the road. Two trustee terms are up this July 2016. Our window to enact change is now. The next time a trustee is up for re-appointment is 2018. I believe our Board just wants to get past July. If there are to be elections, the process must begin now.
The Board may re-appoint Joan Levan and we taxpayers cannot do a thing about it because the Board is accountable to no one. We cannot even hold a public referendum on the elected board issue because the Library was established as a “private corporation” in the 19th century.