8 Queens Library Trustees Removed Amid Investigations
QUEENS — Eight trustees of the Queens Library board were removed Wednesday amid an investigation into the library's president and finances.
Borough President Melinda Katz dismissed six out of 19 trustees Wednesday for supporting the library’s president, Thomas Galante, who has come under fire in recent months for his high salary and lavish spending.
According to Katz, the de Blasio administration also decided to remove two of the mayoral appointees from the Board of Trustees.
Galante, the library's president and CEO, earns $390,000, according to published reports. He also reportedly spent $140,000 last year to renovate his library office in Jamaica and came under scrutiny for holding another job as a consultant, making $115,000 for the second job, according to the Daily News.
The FBI and the city's Department of Investigation were probing the construction spending and Comptroller Scott Stringer ordered an audit of the library's finances, which had been stymied by the board, Katz said.
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In letters that Katz sent on Wednesday to each of the six trustees, appointed by former Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, she wrote that after revelations about Galante's spending, the library has been served with three grand jury subpoenas about the construction.
She also said that she asked the board to require Galante to take an immediate leave of absence. But during a meeting held on April 3, five of the six trustees voted to keep Galante, who, Katz wrote, “cannot effectively represent QBPL and its interests at budget negotiations or hearings with either the City Council or the Administration because of the ongoing criminal investigations.”
The sixth trustee left the meeting before the vote, which led to a 9-9 tie vote, Katz said.
Katz can only remove those trustees that were appointed by the Queens Borough President.
In the letters, Katz also said that the trustees voted to refuse to provide the city comptroller access to the library's financial records.
“The six trustees failed to act in a manner that furthered the educational purposes of the Queens Library,” Katz wrote in a statement.
Katz used the authority of a new state law enacted last month that gives elected officials who appoint the library's board members — the Queens borough president and the mayor — the power to remove them if they “fail to satisfactorily perform their duties,” Katz said in the statement.
The board members have seven business days to submit an appeal to the decision, according to Katz.
The fate of the other two board member who voted to keep Galante was not immediately clear.
The library declined to comment to clarify the dismissals, but it issued a statement saying that "throughout the history of the Queens Borough Public Library, the people of Queens have benefited enormously from a highly committed library Board of Trustees whose leadership has helped keep libraries open and free."
The statement also said that "the board consists of volunteer high-profile professionals and community activists who make time out of their busy schedules."