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.”