It seems the Board of Trustees of the Westhampton Free Library likes to promote the impression that few people are interested in an elected board by outright stating at a recent Board Meeting that, “Well, only you [people in attendance here] are interested in an elected board.” That is not the case at all.
Prior to July 2015, zero taxpayers attended the board meetings, month after month, year after year. After the 30+ attendees in September 2015, and the 60+ attendees in October 2015, the meetings have been averaging 9 in attendance, in the dead of winter, in a summer community with many snowbirds.
What you wouldn’t know, however, is that these 9 individuals are, for the most part, typically different each month. You wouldn’t know that from the Board Meeting Minutes posted on the Library’s website, because the Library chooses not to list those in attendance nor what they specifically discuss during the Period for Public Expression. Two other Suffolk County association libraries, John Jermain in Sag Harbor and South Country in Bellport, for example, do list that specific information for greater accountability.
Also, meeting attendance is not the sole indicator of interest. Many cannot get to the meetings.
In addition, we are going on 8 months of respectfully requesting that the Board research and discuss the elected board issue. People get tired. Perhaps that was a specific Board strategy: keep stonewalling and they will go away.
The right to vote issue may be considered abstract. Electing the trustees of the Westhampton Free Library won’t put more money in taxpayers’ pockets, won’t give us cleaner water, won’t help with low density housing, or affordable housing. Those are more hot-button issues than the basic right to vote, something we seem to take for granted though many fought and died for that right.
However, when faced with the question of should trustees of a taxpayer-funded institution be appointed or elected, we believe the vast majority of Westhampton Free Library patron taxpayers would say ELECTED. It is simply the right thing to do.