B y Jaime Thomas
Pember officials submitted a written response to Mayor Brian LaRose’s letter of inquiry by their 4 p.m. deadline yesterday, but the village had yet to review it.
At a Village Board meeting Monday night, LaRose acknowledged receipt of the seven-page letter but said trustees needed several days to thoroughly read through it.
“We deem it very important to give members adequate time to review, and as soon as we do we will release a statement,” he said. Later in the meeting, resident Neil Lipschutz asked if when the village finishes gathering information officials would “lay it out” in front of the public.
“Transparency is going to be the best deal on this. Our goal is to work with the Pember board, to renew confidence in the Pember Library and Museum it once had. We’ve got to review, take a good hard look at it and take time to make sure we answer questions correctly,” he said, affirming that the public will have an opportunity to question the village about the matter.
Residents speak up
A number of other residents spoke up during the public comment portion of the meeting.
Pete Beyer said he has lived in the community for five years and started his statement by thanking the village for officials’ work.
“With problems with the Pember, I can see how difficult that can be for you; some of you grew up thinking it would be here forever. I can understand how you’d be shaken,” he said, acknowledging library officials’ efforts as well. “Also, the folks on the library committee have no egos involved. I know they’ve made a difference with First Fridays and making it a cultural center.”
He said he found it hard to believe the most recent board was the first to make certain mistakes.
“Somebody must have set a precedent at some time. Was it a policy, a practice? What affect does that have on the culpability for folks on the library board,” he said.
He also went on to express appreciation for the Granville Sentinel’s coverage of issues surrounding the release of an audit report and to express disapproval of a local daily paper’s inaccurate reporting, which he said negatively affected public opinion.
Additionally, Beyer mentioned Library Director Pat Wesner, who has been the subject of much criticism during the past several weeks.
“She seems to be in front of the fan, and everything seems to be heading toward the fan,” he said, going on to mention her return of money that fell out of a Brinks truck. “This is a lady that was celebrated nationally and internationally for her honesty—I find it hard to believe she has two faces,” he said.
George Demas, who he has lived in the village for about 10 years, suggested the Pember be as public as possible with trustee openings and other operations.
He also questioned the “mud in the water” subject of for whom Pember employees work.
“There’s not a clear answer. That’s a problem that has to be resolved. Who signs their checks and all the other things an employee expects from an employer,” he said.
Another resident, Mary Fleming, also asked to whom employees answer. She said “things have happened that the public is not aware of that have not been handled properly.”
Village Attorney Mike Martin and LaRose said employees should approach the board of trustees as an initial course of action.
Library officials speak up
Trustee Phyllis Cavanaugh addressed the board as well.
“We have been open to the community since the beginning of this process, and we have not felt the same respect in return. We’re all neighbors, and we have not been treated as such,” she said.
Paul Elsholz, a former village resident and library trustee, told the village board he was formerly the financial review advisor for the Pember but is no longer involved.
“I think there’s been a lot of finger pointing going on, and what I think is going to be lost is the Pember. My concern is there is not a lot of time left,” Elsholz said, citing the institutions financial needs. “There’s a huge gap of $80,000 in a good year; I hope you keep that in mind as you do your review, and I hope the community keeps that in mind.”
Following public comment, the village board approved two coin drops in April and June, which filled up four of an allowed six for the year.
The board then entered into a lengthy executive session about past, pending or current litigation. Following the session, the board accepted the resignation of Robert Tatko, chairman of the zoning board of appeals, effective Feb. 1. This was to prevent any conflict with the Pember deed in light of Tatko’s appointment to the Pember Board of Trustees Sunday.
The next regular village board meeting will take place Monday, March 3 at 7 p.m.