Two New Appointees; Union Workers Hired
Continuing their overhaul of the Queens Borough Public Library’s board of trustees, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz filled two more vacant seats on the panel last week.
Forest Hills attorney James M. Haddad was de Blasio’s choice. Haddad, an active member of the Association of the Bar of New York City, the Forest Hills Community and Civic Association and the New York chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, helped to found the Kidz Care Junior Civic Association, which engages local youths in various community activities.
Katz’s selection was Dr. Lenore R. Gall, a retired college administrator from East Elmhurst, who previously served as dean of students and academic services for the New York City College of Technology.
Haddad and Gall represent the fifth and sixth combined appointments that the mayor and borough president made to the board of trustees since August. De Blasio and Katz had removed eight trustees in July through powers granted to them in state legislation enacted a month earlier.
The ousted trustees resisted calls earlier in the year to place Queens Library President and CEO Thomas W. Galante on a leave of absence amid several ongoing investigations into his stewardship of the library system. Galante reportedly earns an annual salary of nearly $400,000 and authorized a six-figure renovation of his Jamaica office even as the library cut staff and services amid financial turmoil.
They had also approved a resolution to grant City Comptroller Scott Stringer access to financial documents in accordance with a 1997 agreement the library had with then-City Comptroller Alan Hevesi. Stringer sought full financial disclosure from the library for his audit.
With four new members in place, the Queens Library board of trustees reversed its previous course in September, sending Galante on administrative leave pending the results of the investigations against him and fully disclosing financial information to Stringer.
As previously reported, Stringer has since openly questioned some of the library’s lavish expenditures, which included concert tickets, baseball memorabilia and group dinners.
Queens Library also announced last week it would hire 50 full-time unionized workers as a result of “the stabilization and increase of city funding to the library this fiscal year.”
Many of the positions involve full-time custodians; Queens Library previously came under fire for contracting many of these positions to independent firms using non-union workers.
With the union janitors being added, Queens Library will reportedly void its contracts with the independent cleaning companies by June of next year.
The library also filled 19 clerical positions with union workers and intends to add more in the weeks to come.
“Queens Library staff are the best in the world. Their ranks have been thin these last few years and that has been hard on everyone,” said Queens Library’s Interim President and CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey, who expressed gratitude to Mayor de Blasio and the City Council “for supporting an increase in our funding and making it possible for the library to expand our workforce.”
“The renewed investment that the city has made in the Queens Library will be returned many times over as we deliver quality service and facilities in every community,” Quinn-Carey added.
“I am pleased that the additional funding for the library that I fought so hard for is being used to hire back and increase jobs at the Queens Library,” added City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, himself a former Queens Library employee. “While this funding is meaningful and a step in the right direction, there is still work to be done, and I will not rest until we have achieved full library service at every branch across this borough.”