Saturday, March 31, 2018

Crooked Library Board Forces Out Library Director

Sad News for Community as Bellwood Public Library’s Director Jacqueline Spratt Forced Out by Board Power Plays

by Kevin DuJan
Illinois Leaks "Edgar County Watchdogs"
29 March 2018


BELLWOOD, ILLINOIS —

In a shocking and sad development, Bellwood Public Library Director Jacqueline Spratt announced her resignation (effective April 6th).

Spratt has been a tenacious advocate for fiscal responsibility and government accountability during her 4-year tenure as Bellwood’s director. (She has worked at the Bellwood Public Library for a total of 25 years.) She is a rare figure in Chicagoland, being a public employee who routinely said “NO!” to public officials who wanted to squander the public’s money and abuse their elected positions. Spratt is a woman of great integrity who stood up to bullying by board members the likes of which it is rare to see, even in Chicago. Being only human, it appears she reached the point where she just couldn’t take any more grief or abuse from the Bellwood Public Library Board of Trustees…and so she is calling it quits. While it’s hard to blame her, it’s also heartbreaking to see someone who loves her community and her library forced out of a job she clearly loves.

This is the latest in an ongoing struggle in Bellwood for a number of years, as we reported on here in the past. Bellwood Public Library has been plagued by board members who allegedly steal from the public, demand exorbitant reimbursements (including checks written in advance) for conference trips that some didn’t even bother to attend, (with other board members staying longer than a conference required, thus turning that trip into a “free” vacation the public had to pay for). Board members in Bellwood demanded to be fed dinner during board meetings and plotted to award lucrative renovation contracts and other highly-paid positions to friends or cronies. All the while, a shadowy and mysterious local political figure seemed to be pulling strings and influencing board members, giving the community the impression that the machinations ongoing at the library were similar to other schemes that appeared to be unfolding within Bellwood’s school district. It’s unfortunate that media outlets with the resources to fund investigative reporting and forensic accounting don’t make Bellwood a priority because there appear to be more layers upon layers (upon layers) of scandal in Bellwood than in the movie Chinatown.

So much happens there that it’s hard to follow all of the twists and turns. In the last election, it appeared that things would start to improve for Bellwood’s library when several n’er-do-well board members lost their positions. But even with those bad apples removed, the Board as a whole seemed to continue harassing Spratt in what appears to be a power play to force her to back off of her reform agenda. Spratt triumphed several times when various Board members invented false accusations against her or trumped up ridiculous excuses to fire her; some of these stunts triggered legal actions that resulted in judges protecting Spratt and her position. In recent remarks to the press, Spratt appears exhausted and at wit’s end.

I’ve been fighting with the board almost since I’ve been the director and I just don’t want to fight anymore…I think that some people have hidden agendas that I’m not willing to go with,” Spratt told the Village Free Press on March 28th.


Bellwood’s library board has a long reputation for violating the Open Meetings Act by inappropriately holding closed meetings, calling improper special meetings as power plays on days when certain board members are not able to attend a meeting or voting on matters without a proper quorum. Last summer, the Board appears to have tried a new tactic to remove Spratt as an obstacle to their lawbreaking by filing a restraining order against her…but a judge quashed that gambit. This followed the Board attempting to remove Spratt as the director without any proper grounds for doing so…and the Board not being able to list a single thing she did wrong as director. The Board appeared intent on getting rid of Spratt because she was a consistent voice of reason that got in the way of whatever crazy or illegal thing the Board wanted to do.

This being Illinois, it should come as no surprise that this story ends with the good person feeling forced to leave her job while the bad public officials succeed in getting rid of her. Without Jacqueline Spratt in place to push back against the lawbreaking and looting of the Library’s coffers, it’s sad to think about the Bellwood community having no one to say “NO!” to this reckless and out-of-control board. The Bellwood Public Library is a true gem in an area often neglected in Chicagoland. It needs people like Spratt to thrive (let alone survive).

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Source: "Sad News for Community as Bellwood Public Library’s Director Jacqueline Spratt Forced Out by Board Power Plays," by Kevin DuJan, Illinois Leaks "Edgar County Watchdogs," 29 March 2018.




I hereby recommend the American Library Association award former Bellwood Public Library Director Jacqueline Spratt with its "Paul Howard Award for Courage" or its "Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced With Adversity":

http://www.ala.org/awardsgrants/lemony-snicket



URL of this page: 
safelibraries.blogspot.com/2018/03/crooked-library-board.html

On Twitter: 
@ALALibrary @BellwoodPubLib @ECWDogs

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Jet Versus the American Library Association

A shopping site called Jet responded positively—within 9 minutes—of being informed about sexually inappropriate images in its advertisements in online children's games. Contrast this with the American Library Association, an organization that for over 50 years has worked day and night to facilitate child pornography and sexual harassment in American libraries.  I note the sharp contrast between an organization that acts responsibly to immediately act to limit exposure of children to inappropriate material as opposed to another that spends decades maximizing such exposure.

Here are my messages and Jet's responses:







URL of this page: 
safelibraries.blogspot.com/2018/03/jet-versus-american-library-association.html

On Twitter:
@ALALibrary @Jet @JetHeads @1010Game

Friday, February 2, 2018

ALA Must Disinvite Sally Yates Else Make a Mockery of Patron Privacy Policies

The American Library Association must disinvite Sally Yates.  Its Public Library Association is having a biennial conference #PLA2018 this March in Philadelphia.  The opening speaker is Sally Yates.  To ALA, the issue of privacy is of utmost importance.  "The American Library Association affirms that rights of privacy are necessary for intellectual freedom and are fundamental to the ethics and practice of librarianship."

Today we learned Sally Yates used her considerable governmental powers to illegally violate the privacy of American citizens by subjecting them to illegal searches in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, among other violations.  Indeed, the invasion of privacy was so significant and so serious and so illegal that Sally Yates may be going to jail for having significantly participated in a silent coup against the American government.

A core value ALA drives over and over again is privacy:

Along comes Sally Yates who has been proven beyond the shadow of a doubt to have used the full force and weight of the American government to, at a minimum, illegally violate the privacy of various American citizens under knowingly false pretenses:  "The FBI and DOJ obtained one initial FISA warrant targeting Carter Page and three FISA renewals from the FISC. .... Then-DAG Sally Yates ... signed one or more FISA applications on behalf of DOJ."

Normally I oppose disinviting speakers and have even criticized ALA for disinviting its guests in the past.  But this case is different.  Sally Yates is the very antithesis of ALA's core position on privacy.  She illegally used the full power of the United States government and its spy agencies to violate the Fourth Amendment rights of her victims.  She must be disinvited or she will have forever made a mockery of any claim that ALA is interested in the slightest in privacy.  Any librarian cheering her appearance at #PLA2018 is cheering Sally Yates's part in a massive scandal never before seen in the USA.
I know librarians will be reluctant to drop Yates.  So here, in the words of a Democrat, is the heart of what Sally Yates has done to illegally violate the rights of American citizens in a manner expected only by foreign, oppressive governments:
In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. …. Now that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people.  And no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything – telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide.  
If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology. …. I don't want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America.  And we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That’s the abyss from which there is no return. 
Source: Senator Frank Church, Chairman, Select Committee on Intelligence Activities, NBC's Meet The Press, 17 August 1975, emphasis added.
Watch:


Sally Yates was taking us over the abyss of tyranny before she was fired for insubordination by the President of the United States.  As Frank Church said in 1975, "no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything."


I understand Sally Yates was booked by ALA only weeks before today's bombshell exposing her tyrannical (as Frank Church put it) behavior:
But, given the paramount importance of privacy to all that is the ALA, Sally Yates must be disinvited from PLA 2018, else ALA risks forever being viewed as condoning a tyrannical effort to invade people's privacy in the very manner against which Democrat Senator Frank Church warned in 1975.


NOTE ADDED 3 FEBRUARY 2018:

What Sally Yates did "is not just criminal but constitutes treason" worthy of "criminal prosecution against these traitors to our nation":


Hat tip to Jack Posobiec for teaching me about Senator Frank Church:


URL of this page: 
safelibraries.blogspot.com/2018/02/sally-yates.html

On Twitter: 
@ALA_PLA @ALALibrary @PrivacyALA @SallyQYates

Monday, January 29, 2018

Age Discrimination in Libraries

Age discrimination in libraries?  It appears so.

Notice the sad way the information came out: "Levin herself spoke at the commission meeting of her retirement, and painted a different picture of her release from the library system."  Then the library attorney attempted to silence her.

No library media has yet written about her, other than my own.  Library associations like the American Library Association are too busy addressing non-library issues, like how to train school children to resist President Donald Trump or how to position librarians against "stand your ground" gun laws.

It is worthwhile to note that the library prohibits age discrimination when it comes to children viewing inappropriate material.  Is it possible a double standard exists where the library may discriminate based on age but no way will it protect children from inappropriate material?

Read the full story at this link, followed by more information and policy analysis:

"Beloved Librarian Leaves Bridgewater Branch Library"

by Audrey Blumberg 

TAPinto the BReeze, 19 January 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - After 25 years as a librarian in the Somerset County Library System, at the Bridgewater branch, youth services librarian Carol Simon Levin submitted her retirement papers in January.

News of her leaving the library system caused uproar from parents and library system employees who have benefited from her services over the years, and several turned out to the county library system commission’s meeting Jan. 10 in protest.

“I have had the pleasure of working with Carol, and she is light years ahead of me in terms of creativity,” said Somerset resident Lawrence Sapienza, who retired from the library system in April. “She is a wonderful asset to the staff, as well as the public.”

Several people spoke during the commission meeting of Levin’s service to the public and the programs she has spearheaded for children in her position as child services librarian. They expressed their sadness over the loss.

“My child has been coming to the library for 10 years, and comes to story time,” said Bridgewater resident Jodi Golden. “She cried when I told her Carol was leaving.”

Another Bridgewater resident said she has been bringing her children to story time for years with Levin, and the quality of her programs is far superior to those in any other library she has visited.

And still another Bridgewater resident said she has admired Levin’s dedication and intelligence in the field for 25 years.

Resident Atulya Chaganty credited the library, and Levin, with helping her become who she is today, a graduate with a masters degree in industrial design from the Rhode Island School of Design.

“My family moved to this town when I was 10, and we did not know anyone or have a lot of money, so we found refuge in the library,” she said. “We went to every program, got to know our librarians and I even logged the most hours as a volunteer during the summer reading program during my middle school and even some of my high school years.”

“This library made me who I am because of the librarians,” she added, “librarians like Carol, who taught me so many things, not just about reading, but about life.”

Chaganty said she has seen changes in the library over the years, from old computers to limited decorations in the children’s department and a lack of librarians available on Sundays.

“(And) they ended the career of one of the library’s last living legends, Carol Simon Levin, a woman who has dedicated her life to this community,” she said. “Incredibly educated, compassionate and committed to everyone she meets, she does not even need to know you to invite you into her home and welcome you into her life. These actions all symbolize to me a culture shift I am not happy to witness.”

For many, although they will miss Levin’s programs and her presence in the library, of biggest concern was the apparent way in which she left her position in the library system.

According to Brian Auger, administrator of the Somerset County Library System, Levin submitted her retirement from the system, which was accepted.

In the case of a retirement, according to the bylaws of the library system, there is no vote taken by the commission, the retirement is accepted by the director only.

Auger said that according to the bylaws for the library system, the administrator is in charge of executing policies, dealing with personnel and a host of other responsibilities. 

In the case of personnel issues, Auger said, he has the ability to terminate an employee, who then is able to file a grievance if they believe they were wrongfully terminated. At that point, he said, the commission would get involved to do an investigation regarding the termination.

Because Levin submitted her retirement, Auger said, the commission did not have any say in the situation.

“I don’t begrudge anything, they meant well from their perspective,” Auger said of the people who spoke out on Levin’s behalf during the commission meeting. “They came out and spilled their hearts and told us what they thought.”

“But there are two sides to a story, and when it is a supervisors’ side, we must remain silent,” he added of the commission’s decision not to comment with regard to a personnel issue. “All they know about Ms. Levin is that she is a great librarian, does great story times, she is positive and upbeat and the kids love her programs. There are two sides to every story, but she is retiring.”

But the side of the story that the commission could not comment on during the meeting was what was so troubling to many members of the public.

“I had just become aware that Carol was retiring, so to speak,” Sapienza said. “Sometimes it’s not always by choice, and that is, I fear, the case here.”

“When an employee of 20 plus years is put in that position, sometimes I think the commission needs to get involved,” he added. “This is one of those cases. She is a remarkable lady, and I hope that the commission might take time to talk to Carol to see if this is something she wants to happen.”

Levin herself spoke at the commission meeting of her retirement, and painted a different picture of her release from the library system.

“I did this because, after 25 years of consistently exemplary reviews from my supervisors on the quality of my programs and reference transactions, and many appreciative letters sent to supervisors from happy patrons, I was presented with termination documents and told I would be fired if I did not accept retirement and sign away all my employment and legal rights,” she said.

Levin said the charge was insubordination, although the commission’s attorney requested her not to continue speaking on that because it was  personnel issue that is not permitted in a public forum without a signing of a RICE notification that allows an employee’s status to be discussed in open session.

Levin said, after the meeting, that there were a number of incidents that led to her leaving the system, beginning in April when she reported that she found it surprising none of the programs from the library system were appearing in the “Courier News” newspaper. She said she was reported and received a notice that she would have her duties reduced to reference desk and regular story times, as well as the elimination of her display in the lobby.

In October, Levin said, she violated those terms when she put up a display on the “Day of the Dead” an in almost empty space where the Halloween books had been, rather than in her allotted space. In the ensuing days, she said, she was cited for a violation again when she put up a poster for Books for Kids on the children’s reference desk, using one from several years ago instead of one that was new.

“It distresses me mightily that I have been asked to leave over a series of events that had to do with publicity and marketing,” she said. “What bothers me most is this is a pattern, it’s not just me.”

Levin said she has heard from others who value her work, and has worked with patrons, teachers and others to help them find books and more.

“I’m a librarian, I eat, drink and sleep it,” she said.

Levin said that in order to retire, she was required by administration to sign away her ability to ever work again in any library with the Somerset County Library System.

“Though I would have loved to continue creating innovative programs for Bridgewater library youth patrons and helping them, their parents and their teachers find information and great reads, I am not able to do so,” she said.

Auger maintained that Levin had submitted her retirement papers, and there was nothing he or the commission could do in the matter of her employment. He declined to comment on any of the statements made by Levin regarding termination at the commission meeting, citing personnel privacy.

But Levin said she is disturbed that this all came about because she spoke out.

Still, for many patrons of the library, the loss of Levin will be felt by all, young and old.

“I realize this situation is extremely complicated, and we all have a tainted view on what happened,” Chaganty said. “No matter personal feelings, those in power must maintain some professionalism, respect and dignity. Many of us gathered in support of Carol not to reinstate her position, but because of the lack of respect that was shown to a woman who is a 24/7 librarian.”



Here are additional sources for context/information.

Notice library policies prohibit age discrimination in employment and in what children may view generally and specifically on the Internet, in which case only parents may discriminate:


The Somerset County Library System is an equal opportunity employer. SCLSNJ complies with Federal and State legislation and SCLSNJ policies prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender, gender identity, religion, creed, color, national origin, citizenship status, ancestry, age, marital status, veterans’ status, sexual orientation, domestic partnership, civil union partnership, disability, genetic data, criminal history, and any other legally protected status. 


Patrons of all ages may use any part of the library and may select materials from any part of the library.
.... 
The viewing and use of materials on the Internet is the responsibility of each individual user, and the responsibility of parents or guardians for their children under 17;
.... 
Access to computers and the Internet is available to all library customers. However, this service may be limited any time such use is not consistent with the policies of SCLSNJ. Parents and legal guardians for people under 17 years of age assume responsibility for their children’s computer and Internet use by signing their child’s library card application.





URL of this page: 
safelibraries.blogspot.com/2018/01/age-discrimination-in-libraries.html

On Twitter: 
@SCLSNJ @SomersetCntyNJ @TheBReezeTAP