Katz Asks Queens Library President to Take Leave of Absence

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska on April 1, 2014 2:56pm 

 Melinda Katz has asked Thomas Galante to take a leave of absence.
Melinda Katz has asked Thomas Galante to take a leave of absence.
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Queens Library

QUEENS — Borough President Melinda Katz has asked the embattled CEO of the Queens Public Library to take a leave of absence until investigations into his leadership are completed, her office said Tuesday.

Thomas Galante, president and CEO of the Queens Library, is under fire for his $390,000 salary and the $140,000 he spent last year to renovate his library office in Jamaica.

Following those revelations, city Comptroller Scott Stringer launched audits of New York City’s three library systems in January, beginning with the Queens Public Library. The FBI is also examining spending by Galante on the $10 million overhaul of the library's main branch in Jamaica.

On Monday, Katz sent letters to Galante and the library’s board of trustees, saying that “recent events have undermined the faith in the Library and its leadership” and that the investigation could hurt the library’s ability to receive funds.

“In order for the Library to operate effectively and more importantly, to continue to receive taxpayer money, I believe it is best for the institution that you take a leave of absence effective immediately, and continuing until the various investigations and audits into the Library’s operations are resolved,” Katz wrote to Galante.

In her letter to the board, Katz asked its members to take action at their meeting scheduled for Thursday.

“As an elected official charged with allocating taxpayer dollars, I must ensure that they are appropriated wisely — and I cannot do that while the Library’s sitting President faces a federal investigation,” Katz wrote.

Eric Sumberg, a spokesman for Stringer, said Tuesday that “the audit is ongoing."

The FBI and the library declined to comment.

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