Friday, February 18, 2011

Random Thoughts From Wednesdays' Library Trustees Meeting

I have asked a few people that I know, who happened to attend Wednesday night's Middletown Library Board of Trustees's meeting, if they would share a few random thoughts and observation that they may have about what went on during the course of the meeting.

If anyone else who attended the meeting would like to email me their comment I'll also post them. They can be either supportive of the Library's position or the Township's position, I don't care. The only thing that I require is a name, I will not post any thoughts or comments from anonymous email senders. If you were there then you should go on the record as such in either's defense.

Below are thoughts and comment from Linda Baum who was quoted in the article posted at and who asked several questions that night:

It was a tense meeting. There was a clear sense the TC is bullying the library board with its play to villainize them, its threat to replace library board members with appointees more amenable to its demands, and its threat to move the town library to the county system. BTW, it was established that no TC member has ever sat on the library board before now -- Mr. Settembrino's position was typically held by a member of the public.

Sherry, the woman who sent the heavily circulated email about the town's demand, is a member of the library board. I don't know her full name, but I'm sure it's on the web somewhere. She addressed the crowd later in the evening in defense of herself and was visibly upset by the pelting she took from TC members, who called her email false, filled with misinformation, and a subversive attempt to undermine the spirit of cooperation (my words, not theirs, but close). I suspect the real cause of their concern was that her honest, grass roots effort was effective. We all know that the TC would rather that no one be informed about what they are doing.

I was sitting near the Library Board's attorney last night. He was non-vocal, for the most part. But when Brian Nelson was speaking, I heard him mumble, "He doesn't know what he's talking about."

Mtg ran long. 3.5+ hours. Very heated. TC arrogance at an all time high. Lots of good points made, mostly in support of the library.

A resolution was approved to have a mtg of the attorneys, the administrators, and a couple others to basically arrive at a figure to be presented and voted on by the whole library board at its next mtg. The TC is pushing for fast decision -- they claim a deadline of March end having to do with 2011 budget.

The library board tossed around the idea of a special board meeting in advance of the next regular one, but decided not to state that in the resolution, which just says "next mtg".

One point the library board made is that a chunk of the money included in the town's c. $4.2M quote of the library's budget is fines and copying charges or money from other sources like grants, not tax revenue. Thus, not the town's money to begin with. I don't know if any of the attorneys clarified the new law's intent with regard to this. The state's librarian (I think that's who she was) said the intent of the law is yet unclear as no rules or process have yet been established to comply with it. (Again, paraphrasing.)

And one more thing, and this is great stuff: One of the last members of the public to speak was a woman who said she encountered Kevin Settembrino in the lobby before the meeting. She didn't know him and said that he didn't identify himself but commented to her something like "Look at all the cars. I wonder what's going on here tonight." Of course, Settembrino denied it.

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