The New City Library Board of Trustees held its first meeting of 2013 on Wednesday night, and indicated it appears to be narrowing in on selecting a new director for the library.
The position has been vacant since May, except for the . At Wednesday’s meeting, Tom Ninan, chair of the New Director Search Committee, said they interviewed one of the final two candidates in person and were hoping to do the same with the other candidate.
The problem is that the one candidate they have not interviewed in person lives in Texas. So a resolution was put up for a vote to bring that candidate to New City, which included a cap of $1,500 for travel expenses. The other candidate is in Long Island and was brought in earlier for an interview. Ninan said they have talked to the candidate in Texas and conducted an interview over Skype already.
“Now we want to see her in person,” he said. “We have other questions that need to be answered, just like we did with the first one.”
The motion passed 5-2, with Trustees Jeff Greenberg and Ed Kallen voting against it.
Ninan called the money an “investment” a few times, noting that the move would help the library’s future, as it would lead to the search committee being able to make a clear decision between the final two candidates.
Greenberg wanted a more complete breakdown of the money allocation. Ninan said he and the other search committee members looked around online to get a general idea for the pricing of a hotel for two nights, a flight from airport to airport with and without connections and food.
“As I’ve sat here for the past year, you’ve derided every single dollar that this library spent,” Greenberg said to Ninan. “I want to know, specifically, how your search committee came up with a cap of $1,500 to give this person.”
Greenberg pushed harder for specifics, but wasn’t given any.
“I think now you’re being petty, too petty in such a way that I think you’re forestalling the director search,” Ninan said. “That’s the only reason that I can come up with, that you are personally forestalling.”
Ninan added the $1,500 was just a cap and that it didn’t mean the candidate would spend all of it. He said they didn’t want to tell the candidate exactly where to stay or with who to fly and wanted some leeway. Greenberg wasn’t satisfied with the lack of details.
“It’s my money, it’s your money and it’s [the people’s] money,” he said. “I want an explanation at how you arrived at it. I understand the components.”
Kallen said he wanted more information about the candidate.
“All I know is this is someone the search committee thinks we should interview,” he said. “You’re asking me to approve $1,500 just to bring that person here. I’d like to know a little bit about that person.”
Ninan told him a board meeting wasn’t the forum to discuss that topic and that if he wanted to know more about the candidates he could go to a search committee meeting.
Trustee Terri Thal warned the board about continuing to go about business in such a contentious manner, which is how many meetings went last year.
“If you go on like this, you’re going to destroy the library,” she said.
It was Thal’s last meeting on the board, as new board members were seated, as is customary at the first board meeting of the year. She told the board they need to stop blaming each other and work together. Thal also said that Greenberg’s questioning about specifics was a move similar to one Ninan would have made. Trustee Joseph Reiter, the outgoing president of the board, stopped her, telling Thal by making that comparison she just went against her own pleas.
After the first meeting Wednesday, the annual board meeting, the new board members took their seats and the new officers on the board took their new positions. Ninan is now the board president and when talking about his goals for the upcoming year focused on exactly what Thal was talking about.
“My goal is to make sure this body functions as one,” he said. “I already spoke to the managers and staff members. I will be attending their meetings and acknowledging what their needs will be, and bringing it back to the board. I’m hoping to be the liaison.”
There was a brief discussion about whether or not Ninan was allowed to do that as board president, but since the director normally acts as a liaison between the board and library staffers, Ninan said they was no one else to do it until they hire a new director.
At the meeting, Ninan also named the chairs for most committees. He said he did not name a chair for the Policy & Planning Committee yet and would take suggestions or volunteers for the position from board members. Other chairs:
- Building & Grounds Committee - Anthony Feliciano
- Nominating committee - Joseph Reiter
- Personnel and Finance - Matthew Mulrooney