Library Board Seats Trustee Over Objections

New City Library Board appointed trustee to complete Aney Paul’s term over protests that trustee qualifications were not met.


Despite complaints from several board members, the New City Library Board appointed Christian Cortelli as trustee to finish the remainder of Aney Paul’s term on Thursday. Paul resigned in August and at that meeting, Cortelli’s name was originally proposed as a candidate to complete Paul’s term, which ends in December. Cortelli, who is a New City resident, has a West Nyack Library card.

The board vote tied three in favor and three opposed with Board President Joseph Reiter voting for Cortelli’s appointment.

Cortelli’s nomination caused controversy among the board members. Jeff Greenberg said according to the library’s bylaws a candidate for the New City Library Board must have a New City Library card and possess that card at least 180 days prior to the next trustee election.

Greenberg said Cortelli was not qualified for the position because he did not have a New City library card. Cortelli said he moved to New City three years and his current address was listed in the library’s system although he was never issued a New City Library card. 

Greenberg voiced other concerns, noting that if Cortelli joined the board he would be the sixth union member and that the board’s makeup would not reflect the composition of the community.  Cortelli is a Clarkstown police officer and Reiter is a sergeant with the department. Two other board members work for New York City Transit.

After the meeting, Karen Vetrano, president of the New City Library Staff Association, said she disagreed with Greenberg that having six union members on the board was a disservice to the community. 

“Union members are spread across the community,” she said. “They encompass so many different careers. I think having union members on the board is having team players on the board.” 

Trustee Ed Kallen agreed that Cortelli was not qualified because he did not have a New City Library card.  Trustee Tom Ninan said Cortelli’s wife and child were New City library members.  While the trustees were arguing over whether Cortelli was qualified or not, several were texting each other and at one point several of them abruptly left the meeting room. Reiter then called a five-minute recess. 

After the vote appointing him, Cortelli immediately sat down with the other trustees and Greenberg walked out of the meeting.  A resident and former library employee said she opposed the appointment and believed the board should abide by the library’s constitution and bylaws.  Reiter said Cortelli had presented the library with evidence of his residency and the library failed to issue him a card. 

Kallen said an exception was being made and he thought Cortelli’s presence on the board was “shameful.” 

Town Hall Jester September 21, 2012 at 11:12 AM
What a bunch of ridiculous NONSENSE!
Jonathan Swift September 21, 2012 at 11:37 AM
School, town, library...what is it with the boards in Clarkstown?
c. henry September 21, 2012 at 11:57 AM
Tom Ninan has political aspirations and is using his seat on the board to further his political career. When he and his cronies on the board ignore the library's constitution and bylaws the people of New City lose!!!
Christian Cortelli September 21, 2012 at 12:21 PM
I would just like to take this opportunity to reinforce the fact, that I have been a member of the New City Library for the last three years, despite some members erroneous claims. I aim to be a productive member of the board and will work with all the trustees in providing the taxpayers with an efficient, professional, and quality library system. Thank you for your support. Please email me a comment or concern at CJCortelli@yahoo.com.
Robin Traum (Editor) September 21, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Christian Thank you for reaching out to the community. Robin
Mike Hirsch September 21, 2012 at 01:17 PM
Don't blame the boards or politicians who control them. Blame the citizens who don't participate in our representative democracy.
Eden Soto September 21, 2012 at 01:33 PM
So glad that I don't live in New City because this is so ridiculous...
GWashington September 21, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Childish nonsense. Taxed over $400 per year for a library system at this house. Unbelievable amount of money.
Robert Ward Kurkela September 21, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Trustees texting each other? Disgraceful and an utter show of disrespect for the public.
Mike Hirsch September 21, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Good to hear from you Robert. What I think is even more disgraceful is that we have over 40,000 registered voters in Clarkstown, yet it only takes about 300 votes to get elected to the library board. No wonder the public is disrespected. The citizens of our town first need to show that they're worthy of respect by getting informed and voting.
Terrence September 21, 2012 at 03:08 PM
I know Chris Cortelli. Ed Kallon called him shameful. I wonder if Ed knows that Chris volunteered for the United States Marines after September 11, 2001 and served in Iraq. I wonder if Ed knows that Chris was an NYPD officer during the terrorist attacks and was one of the first officers to rush back to the NYC to help. I wonder if Ed knows that Chris has been going - and has been a member - of the New City library system since the 1970's. When I think of Chris Cortelli, the words shameful don't come to mind. Rather, I think of words like hero. The new city library should be grateful to have him.
Christine Ma September 21, 2012 at 03:16 PM
If their bylaws are clear, members that violate their own bylaws should be impeached or removed from the board for a violation of ethics. We need someone to take back the library from these crazies. Why isn't the city, RCLS or the state investigating this violation.
Rhea Vogel September 21, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Christine Ma September 21, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Cortelli now claims that he has a New City card? Then why didn't that come out at the meeting? So much for an honest cop.
Robin Traum (Editor) September 21, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Terrence - I believe Ed Kallen's remark of shameful was in reaction to the board majority's decision to seat Christian Cortelli and was not directed at him personally. Robin
Robert Ward Kurkela September 21, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Mike, you are so right about the apathy. Some library trustees, whether in West Nyack or New City, clearly take advantage of the fact most people don't bother to show up to vote or to attend meetings. A new article just appeared on the Patch that the proposed library budget would increase the tax levy paid by property owners by 1.3 percent. The madness just doesn't end. The first step is to FOIL the bylaws of the library to see if, in fact, the trustees are in violation of any of them. Christine, you are absolutely right. For those not aware, educate yourself here about FOIL: http://www.dos.ny.gov/coog/foil2.html
Robert Ward Kurkela September 21, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Christian, please see your email. Thanks.
Mary Beth September 22, 2012 at 02:02 AM
Mr. Cortelli: At the board meeting, you said that you held a library card from the West Nyack Library, but not the New City Library. You said that you were entitled to one, but that is not the same as actually having it. You permitted Mr. Ninan to force your way onto the board. Now you are claiming to be a member (ie, card holder) of the library in contrast to your earlier statement. I didn't know anything about you before, but now I know that you fit right in with the board majority.
Terry Schiff September 22, 2012 at 12:11 PM
It's not necessary to make use of FOIL--a Google search leads to the New City Library ByLaws New City - RCLS www.rcls.org/pdfs/policies/BylawsNWC-D201016.pdf New City Bylaws. Check Article V Section 2b which states that any Library member who wishes to become a trustee must have his or her own library card 180 days prior to the election, must be a member in good standing and must not be an employee of the Library or a member of the immediate family of an employee
Mary September 22, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Everyone wants to be Chief!
Robert Ward Kurkela September 22, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Thanks Terry! Either you have a card or you don't. Period. If the newly appointed trustee did not have a card 180 days prior then one cannot be a trustee. End of story. Produce the library card or resign. Enough of the unions controlling these boards in Clarkstown.
Mike Hirsch September 23, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Again Robert, don't blame the unions or the politicians for gaming the system. Blame the 99% of registered voters who don't paticipate. As the lead opposition group in our town, the Clarkstown Taxpayers need your support. Please log onto our website www.clarkstowntaxpayers.com to purchase tickets to our fundraiser at the Elmwood Playhouse on Nov 29th.
Pat Godfrey September 25, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Unions are destroying this country. In there greed they take over different town boards or give $ to various influential politicians. This way whenever their contracts come up they get pretty much waht they want. Even if if it does or will bankrupt a town or city or State.


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