By Alex Robinson
Borough President Melinda Katz and Mayor Bill de Blasio have removed eight members from the Queens Library’s board of trustees after they refused to oust the nonprofit’s embattled president, Thomas Galante.
A bill recently passed by the state Legislature gave Katz and de Blasio new powers to fire board members if they fail to “satisfactorily perform their duties.”
“Your continued support of Mr. Galante serving as president and CEO of Queens Public Library under the current circumstances … demonstrates your failure to oversee the management of the library,” Katz wrote in letter to each trustee she removed.
The borough president and a number of Queens elected officials had called on the board to depose Galante after revelations surfaced six months ago he made a $392,000 annual salary in addition to pay he received at a secondary job.
Allegations he built a $27,000 smoking deck for his office and other questions of fiscal mismanagement also spurred investigations by the FBI and city Department of Investigation.
In addition to failing to oust Galante, the board voted against opening the nonprofit’s books in April to city Comptroller Scott Stringer, who launched an audit of the library.
“I commend Queens Borough President Melinda Katz for initiating changes to the Queens Library Board that I believe will be in the best interests of taxpayers, accountability and good governance,” Stringer said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “It is my hope that the information requested by my audit team will be made available without further delay.”
The borough president appoints nine of 19 members on the board of trustees and the mayor appoints the remaining 10. Katz removed six of the members in Wednesday’s purge, who were all appointed by her predecessor, Helen Marshall.
Before the new law was enacted, the borough president and mayor could not replace their appointees until the end of their five-year terms.
Joanne King, spokeswoman for the Queens Library, confirmed several members had been sent notices, taking them off the board.
“Throughout the history of the Queens Borough Public Library, the people of Queens have benefitted enormously from a highly committed library board of trustees whose leadership has helped keep libraries open and free,” King said in a statement. “They have helped make Queens Library a recognized national model of excellence. The board consists of volunteer, high-profile professionals and community activists who take time out of their busy schedules. Every one of the tens of millions who has enriched his life through Queens Library owes them thanks for their service.”
The eight board members who were removed were Jacqueline Arrington, Joseph Ficalora, William Jefferson, Grace Lawrence, Terri Mangino, George Stamatiades, Patricia Flynn and Van Anden, according to the borough president’s office.
The board members have seven business days to appeal and respond to their removal.
Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.