Friday, June 27, 2014

Wave of ethics scandals threatens to engulf Queens Library, and its leadership

PUBLISHED : FRI, 27 JUN 2014, 12:17 PM
UPDATED : SAT, 28 JUN 2014, 09:24 AM

Not even Councilmembers with former leadership posts at the corrupt Queens Library can reign in rampant public corruption at the troubled lending library

Jimmy Van Bramer photo jimmy-van-bramer-ny1-600px-export_zps2661cbc1.jpg

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Sack them all : Bye-bye to Queens Library chief Tom Galante — and the board members who enabled his reign of greed (The New York Daily News)

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Gov. Cuomo signs bill to reform operations at embattled Queens library system (The New York Daily News)

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer explodes at colleagues over charges he's too close to corrupt Queens Library President Thomas Galante (The New York Daily News)

Just hours after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an emergency bill into law, giving Mayor Bill de Blasio and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz powers to remove from office the corrupt Trustees of the troubled Queens Borough Public Library, the Editorial Board of The New York Daily News published a scathing editorial, encouraging the mayor and the Queens beep to do exactly that.

The Editorial Board wants the Queens Library Board of Trustees to be held accountable for the charges of corruption against the nonprofit's president, Thomas Galante.

"De Blasio and Katz must sack all those who aided and abetted Galante and appoint top-notch replacements, who will open the library’s internal workings under him to full scrutiny before paying him a penny."

Can the Queens Library survive this ethics and financial scandal ?

Jimmy Van Bramer with Thomas Galante of the Queens Library photo jimmy-van-bramer-thomas-galante-library-cuts_zpsaefb2d0c.jpg

Queens Library President Galante has seen his management of the lending library come under immense scrutiny once it was reported by The New York Daily News that he was earning nearly $400,000 per year, enjoying six-figure office renovations, and receiving other perks, including a reported $37,000 annual car allowance. Mr. Galante was seen as perversely milking the Queens Library dry at the same time that the lending library was laying off low-paid employees. A report in The New York Daily News indicated that the Queens Library has eliminated nearly 130 jobs over the past five years. Not even Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who formerly served in the leadership of the Queens Library, was able to hold his former colleagues accountable for the wave of ethics scandals that now threaten to engulf the Board Members of the troubled lending library.

Queens residents don't know how the Queens Library can survive a scandal of these proportions if its nonprofit trustees failed to each of keep a check on its governance, administer "normal" compensation for its executives, propose and award construction contracts based on sound business judgement, and reasonably determine other perks, such as the awarding of car allowances. According to a report by a library watchdog group, the Queens Library is "currently under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and city Department of Investigation."

Strategically-important community nonprofits in New York City, which have collapsed in recent years under governance and financial scandals, include the Bronx Community Pride Center and People of Color in Crisis, or POCC.

The swift passage of the Queens Library reform bill through the corrupt state legislature and Gov. Cuomo's swift enactment shows that there is a way for Albany to clean up public corruption in New York State. Many New York City-based political bloggers and reform activists wonder why does one lending library in Queens receive this kind of rapid response, but the public corruption scandals playing out right now from City Hall all the way up to Albany get no immediate legislative attention at all.

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