Queens Library Trustees Drop Lawsuit
Whistleblower / Freedom Of Information Law Request Continues
QBP Katz Does About Face On Providing Public With Transparency
Updated Dec 12th / December 1, 2014 / Queens Library / News Analysis & Opinion / Queens Buzz / By Michael Wood. Last week the six former trustees of the Queens Library decided to drop their lawsuit against Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Attorney General Schneiderman and the State of New York.
The Judge signed their Notice of Dismissal [shown at right] on November 26, 2014. The Notice of Dismissal states:
"PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that whereas no party has served an answer or motion for summary judgment, Plaintiffs, by their undersigned counsel, hereby dismiss the above-captioned action, and all claims asserted in it, without prejudice, pursuant to Rule 41(a)(1)(A) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure."
The Queens Borough President issued a press release stating,
"Judge dismisses lawsuit against BP Katz".
What actually happened is that the Notice of Dismissal was made at the request of the plaintiffs as shown in the document to your right and signed by the Judge.
Many of the local newspapers re-published portions of the press release without citing that the dismissal was at the request of the plaintiffs - thus making it appear as though the Judge had decided to dismiss the case - not that the plaintiffs had decided to drop it. Since we first published this piece, several have updated their reports.
Whistleblower Investigation: Was The Law Broken?
The plaintiffs will continue with their Whistleblower / Freedom Of Information [aka FOIL] request, which according to one source, the six former Queens Library Trustees will pursue until the information is released to the public.
The Whistleblower complaint was determine whether someone on the Queens Library Board of Trustees was not adhering to their fiduciary responsibility to keep confidential Queens Library Board of Trustee information. The investigation was to determine from where the leaks were coming. The lawsuit alleged that the leaks were coming from the Queens Borough President's representative on the Board.
It Appears The Leaked Information Was Used To Gain Control Of Queens Public Library
The leaked information was published by the Daily News in a couple of 'exclusive' reports in January and March of 2014 [click links to view Daily News stories]. The Queens Borough President then took the leaked information once made public, and used it to call for Queens Library reforms. She enlisted the support of two Queens NYS legislators in crafting legislation called the Queens Library Reform Act, which was primarily redundant legislation to laws already on the books, except that it also included a change of control of the Queens Library Board of Trustees from independent board to one completely beholden to the Queens Borough President and the NYC Mayor - as trustees became expendable without recourse within a week of notice. The Queens Borough President and the NYC Mayor were also given de facto approval rights to Queens Library new key hires.
The lawsuit was dropped last week by the six trustees who cited resource constraints; but the FOIL request to make the Whistleblower complaint report public continues.
Governance In Queens & NYS: Where's The American 'Due Process' & What Happened To The American Axiom Of 'Presumed Innocent Until Proven Guilty'?
One of the most disturbing aspects of this case was that three investigative bodies have been evaluating the Queens Library since late February / early March of 2014. To date [December 2014] not one of them has publicly announced that there's been any wrongdoing.
Yet, if you search 'Queens Library corruption' or 'Thomas Galante corruption', you'd think that there definitely was corruption at the Queens Library.
And over five months ago the entire New York State Assembly and entire the New York State Senate [save one] and the New York State Governor drafted and passed a bill to 'reform the Queens Library' on the 'ASSUMPTION that something was broken', because the investigative bodies are still looking into the matter and to date have still not determined whether any laws were even broken.
This is akin to having a mechanic fix your car before they told you what was wrong with it. Or having a doctor prescribing drugs or performing an operation on you before they had told you what ailment you had. I thought that in America you're presumed to be 'innocent until proven guilty' - not 'guilty until proven innocent' as appears to be the case here.
If you believe that following due process and that the assumption of innocence until proven guilty are the right way go about things, then it seems that the passing of the Queens Library Reform Act prior to receiving the investigative reports - regardless of the investigative findings - was simply the wrong way to address this situation.
Queens Public Library: Where's The Tranparency?
Currently the Queens Borough President and the Queens Library are either denying or ignoring [which is legally a denial] FOIL requests for information pertaining to the Whistleblower inquiry investigation.
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, after spending the first eight months of her presidency calling for public transparency into the operations of the Queens Library, now finds herself in the position of denying the public transparency into the alleged - and possibly unlawful - role of her Office in stirring up the Queens Library conflict.
The Queens Library's management of funds came into the public eye in January / February of 2014 when reports about the Chief Executive's compensation, second job and office renovations were highlighted in a number of 'exclusive' reports published by the Daily News. The FBI, NYC Department of Investigations and NYC Comptroller have been investigating the Queens Library since late February / early March of 2014 and to date no wrongdoing has been announced.
Investigations: Watergate 17 Months. Queens Public Library 9 Months & Counting
As a point of comparison, the investigation has been ongoing for nine months, which is more than half as long as the Watergate investigation [17 months] wherein the most powerful man in the world was playing investigative defense. The CEO of the Queens Library has been on paid leave since September of 2014.
Was There Any Wrongdoing? How Long Will The Award Winning Queens Public Library Be Held Under A Cloud Of Suspicion?
The question now is how long will these investigative bodies hold the award winning Queens Public Library under a cloud of suspicion, before they announce that there WAS or WAS NOT any wrongdoing?
Government officials have provided detailed excerpts of CEO Galante's time sheets and expense reports, but nothing that - thus far - indicates any wrongdoing.
Ongoing Investigative Cloud Of Suspicion May Cost NYC Taxpayers Million$ Or Cost Queens Residents Loss Of Library Services
The unresolved allegations [google - queens library corruption] leaves a cloud of suspicion over the Queens Public Library and must certainly make fundraising for the non-profit far more challenging, while continuing to distract many of the library staff as they carry out their duties.
This cloud of suspicion could cost the taxpayer millions in additional public funding [to make up the deterioration in non-profit funds raised], or cause a loss of library services for Queens residents. Only the NYC Comptroller's Office provided us with an estimate of when they expect to complete their investigation [Winter / Spring 2015]. The FBI and DOI do not comment on ongoing investigations.
More to come either later in December or sometime in January, as we continue our investigation into this important story.
In the meantime, you can read for yourself, how the Queens Borough President presents information regarding the dismissal of the Queens Library lawsuit to the public.