QUEENS — Former city Schools Chancellor and Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott is set to become the new president and CEO of the Queens Library, filling the void left by Thomas Galante, who was fired in December 2014 for excessive spending habits.
Walcott, 64, a lifelong Queens resident, worked as chancellor of the city's Department of Education under Mayor Michael Bloomberg from 2011 to 2013, and is currently serving as the state-appointed monitor of the East Ramapo School District, according to the library.
“I have been a lifelong patron of the Queens Library and wholeheartedly believe in the mission of this great institution," Walcott said in a statement.
“I look forward to working with all the fantastic, creative, dynamic staff and friends and visiting every community library, meeting and listening to their ideas and participating in initiatives that make life better and richer for their neighborhoods,” he added.
It took the Queens Library Board’s Search Committee several months to select Walcott, officials said.
“We are confident that Dennis Walcott has exactly the right skills and depth of experience to lead the Library through the challenging years ahead,” said board Chairman Carl Koerner and Vice Chairwoman Judith Bergtraum, who led the search committee, in a statement.
Walcott is expected to begin his new job on March 14, after he is approved by the state Department of Education, the library said.
The selection of Walcott, whose salary was not immediately disclosed, ends a tumultuous period at the Queens Library.
Walcott's predecessor, Galante, who was making $392,000 a year, served as the library's president and CEO for more than a decade, but was fired after an audit of his company credit card charges ordered by Comptroller Scott Stringer revealed that he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on things like expensive meals, booze and Maroon 5 concert tickets, according to the report.
Galante, who also took a side job as a consultant for a school district on Long Island, making an additional $150,000 a year, also spent $140,000 to renovate his former office in Jamaica, including building a $27,000 smoking deck.