Fired library trustees take Katz to court on dismissals

Six members of the Queens Library board of trustees are suing Borough President Melinda Katz (r.) after she removed them for failing to depose library President Thomas Galante (l.).
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Borough President Melinda Katz has rejected the appeal of six members of the Queens Library trustees to get their posts back after she dismissed them for standing by embattled President Thomas Galante.

The deposed trustees filed a lawsuit against Katz in Brooklyn federal court last week for what they described as “a brazen, and unconstitutional, power grab by the Queens borough president, with the aid of the state Legislature, to transform the Queens Borough Public Library from an independent, private, nonprofit corporation into an organ of city government controlled by the Queens borough president and mayor.”

They also appealed their removal directly to Katz after she and Mayor Bill de Blasio used powers granted to them by a new state law to fire eight trustees July 23.

Katz rejected their appeals Tuesday.

“The unfortunate truth is that your actions, along with the actions of Mr. Galante, have led to ill-will, created n atmosphere of public distrust and have cased the public outcry, outrage and demand for reform,” Katz wrote in letters to the fired trustees.

Papers filed on behalf of Katz urged the court to drop the lawsuit.

“The mayor and borough president, as elected officials responsible for the library, are entitled to appoint a board that has a consensus behind reforming the library and cooperating with the ongoing investigat­ions,” the court papers said. “The plaintiffs stand in the way of accountability and transparen­cy.”

The six trustees voted against a motion that would oust Galante, who has been the subject of multiple investigations following allegations of fiscal mismanagement and questions concerning his external income.

They also voted down a measure which would have opened the library’s books to city Comptroller Scott Stringer, who launched an audit of the nonprofit’s finances.

The trustees’ lawsuit claimed Katz was “fixated on getting rid of Galante” from early on in her term in office.

“After dismissing the trustees, it’s hardly surprising that the borough president rejected their appeal,” said Doug Grover, a lawyer representing the trustees. “It’s one more reason the court must step in and halt the damage Ms. Katz has already done to the library and the further damage that would surely follow.

“For more than a century the library has provided excellent service to the community, free from political interference and favoritism. She wants to toss that aside, using an ill-conceived law that we believe is unconstitutional. The threat to the independence of the Queens Library should be of concern to every nonprofit group in New York and to every citizen.”

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 6:49 pm, August 11, 2014
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Reader feedback

boy toy from queens says:
Will Melinda pick her boyfriend Sliwa
Aug. 1, 2014, 8:23 am
Andrea M from Queens says:
Mr Galante is merely a pawn in Katz's game, she wanted to gain control of the library, so a calculated effort, with the support of a false and misleading NY Daily News article opened the door for her. I have been going to the library for over 50 years, and the last few years under Mr Galante's administration has see amazing improvements in facilities and programs. What a shame that they have destroyed a man's reputation just for political games. She will get her's, there's a lot of skeletons in her closet!
Aug. 1, 2014, 11:56 am
Chicklet from Douglaston says:
So what do you expect? With totalitarian Chavez-loving socialists in power, this is just the beginning.

These professional politicians have been out of power for 20 years, their goal is to take over as many private and independent agencies that they can, so they have more jobs to give to their friends.

The kids who use the library, please, who cares about them?
Aug. 7, 2014, 4:38 pm

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