On April 15 the Board of Trustees of the Westhampton Free Library sent an email to patrons about their new resolutions. On the same day Donald Trump wrote an editorial about voter disenfranchisement paralleling the fate of the Library taxpayer. (We are not as a group endorsing Mr. Trump. He merely brings up timely right to vote issues.)
First let’s respond to the Library’s email, which references their Executive Summary. Quotes below refer to both documents:
“The Board is basically new”: So why wouldn’t the Board in good faith hold a town hall meeting to hear the opinions of those who fund the library? If they are new, what makes just the 7 board members eminently qualified to decide the governing fate of the Library without community input?
“The Board of Trustees…had to handle litigation….” (in its present appointed state) but then the Board says, “As we “emulate” a public library more and more, the possibility of a lawsuit challenging our “private” status grows. This real possibility is perhaps our greatest reservation about changing to an elected board.”: There have already been multiple lawsuits due to the insular, private club status of the appointed board. Sabina Trager, in her wrongful termination, won her Department of Labor case against the Library. In her NLRB case, the Library also settled for $25,000, a combination of front and back pay. A second employee’s NLRB case was settled. And with yet a third employee, the Department of Human Rights found probable cause and the next step for that case is still pending. Why does the Board fail to note these cases in its email? You can have some type of lawsuit whether the Board is appointed or elected.
“In the spirit of accountability, the board changed its meeting times to evenings at the public request”: Thank you for that, but let’s not be disingenuous. The prior Board that met in the morning was comprised of three retired individuals and three individuals with flexible schedules. On the newly appointed Board, Tom Moore works full-time and Sue Rosenberg stated at the October 30, 2015 morning board meeting when she was appointed that she was losing money being at the Library instead of in the high school substitute teaching. Did they wish to take a day off from work each month for morning board meetings?
“Notably, no one demanding a change in governance has declared how the library services or function will improve with an elected board.”: In an election, candidates present platforms. Many taxpayers want to elect board members who don’t want to spend money on expanding the library to be more of a community center, especially after being told by Danielle Waskiewicz, Library Director, at the April 13 Board Meeting that the statistics show decreases in book circulation and increases in digital (so why do we need more space?); or who believe the library’s slush fund is big enough and there is no need to keep underestimating the contract district revenue to continue padding that slush fund; or who believe the employees are the heart and soul of the library and they should be fairly compensated in line with other libraries, who believe the people should come before the building; or wish to elect those who believe we should rework the existing library space to house more books, etc. If the electorate had a chance to hear from candidates we might very well improve library services or function.
The new Board of Trustees of the Westhampton Free Library makes many opinion statements that they expect the taxpayer to accept as absolute truths, completely disenfranchising the Westhampton Free Library taxpayer.
Now to The Donald’s editorial, which can be found at:
He is railing against the fact that on April 9, “Colorado had an ‘election’ without voters. Delegates were chosen on behalf of a presidential nominee, yet the people of Colorado were not able to cast their ballots to say which nominee they preferred. A planned vote had been canceled.”
“Responsible leaders should be shocked by the idea that party officials can simply cancel elections in America if they don’t like what the voters may decide.”
“…rule by a small handful of elites…”
“Delegates are supposed to reflect the decisions of voters…”
“…politicians care more about securing their private club than about securing their country.”
“My campaign will seek maximum transparency, maximum representation and maximum voter participation. We will run a campaign based on empowering voters, not sidelining them.”
The Library should not be like a country club or a beach club accepting applications to join. Library taxpayers: Are you comfortable with being disenfranchised? If you are dissatisfied with being denied your right to vote for Library trustees, VOTE NO for the Library’s budget increase this May.