Library Oversight

Why is Tom Galante still sitting in the CEO’s chair at Queens Library amid the public outcry for his removal and the board’s refusal to agree to an audit by the city comptroller?

Queens lawmakers have been scrambling to draft competing bills in the state Legislature to regulate the executive end of the library and hold those who run the nonprofit accountable for their actions.

At issue is Galante’s $392,000 annual salary and his income from a second job as a self-described financial consultant to the public school system in Elmont, L.I. Expensive renovations to his executive offices at the library have also drawn fire as well as his sports car paid for by the library.

The library’s trustees deadlocked 9-9 on a vote to oust Galante after Borough President Melinda Katz called for him to take a temporary leave of absence.

After urging Galante to step down, state Sen. Tony Avella drew up legislation that would cap key executive salaries at Queens Library at $150,000 and limit outside employment of trustees and top personnel. The beep would appoint six trustees and the mayor five, all subject to two-year term limits.

Avella contends his bill goes farther than measures prepared by state Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry, who worked with Katz to make the library’s workings more transparent, and a sister version sponsored by Sen. Michael Gianaris.

Aubry’s bill borrows two points from Avella’s, which would make the library subject to Freedom of Information Laws and require annual budget hearings.

Avella’s legislation is in limbo because he has angered the Queens Democratic machine by joining the Independent Democratic Conference, which has given effective control of the upper chamber to the Republicans.

It might pass the Senate, but there is no version in the heavily Democratic Assembly. And Gianaris’ bill might not see the light of day since the IDC would have to bring it to the floor.

This infighting will allow the status quo to continue at Queens Library. The CEO and the trustees have spit in the face of the public by refusing to explain how they spend their private funds and taxpayer money.

It’s time for our state legislators to reach a compromise and end the charade. The longer Galante remains in his post without the board explaining its actions, the more credibility is lost at this important institution.

We think he should resign, but we’d like to hear his side of the story and listen to the current board.

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