B y Jaime Thomas
As members of the Pember Board of Trustees discussed Mayor Brian LaRose’s recent letter to them during a meeting Thursday, one trustee did not seem satisfied.
Bo Young repeatedly brought up his adverse response to the village’s hand in the library and museum’s operations.
The Feb. 10 letter to Mary King, president of the Board of Trustees, was a response to a recent letter Pember officials sent to the village, explaining their response to a recent state audit. LaRose indicated village officials plan to work closely with the library and museum and maintained that the village does not currently support the idea of the Pember becoming a school district library.
On Thursday, King said she had called the mayor but not yet heard back from him. She also said there will probably be a meeting between herself, the village board and Town Supervisor Matt Hicks, who has been involved with the issue since the audit was released.
“Obviously all board members are invited,” King said.
“Are we? The last meeting I attended I was thrown out of,” Young said, referring to a closed-door meeting between LaRose and select Pember officials. He went on to criticize village officials’ lack of attendance at Pember meetings and indicated they might have prevented some of the problems found in the state audit.
“Honestly I thought the letter was something of a pose. I’m not interested in the guidance of the mayor,” Young said. “The two meetings we’ve been to with the ever-so-helpful mayor when he’s ambushed us; you’ll excuse me if I’m a little skeptical.”
He went on to defend the most recent board, from which four members resigned earlier this month.
“It’s only been now that all this scandal came up that people have been attending meetings. You’ve done nothing to show the four members resigned because the village once again moved the goal posts,” he said to King. “That’s why these people resigned, and I want you to make that clear.“
Former Trustee Gigi Zeitler, who was in attendance, agreed.
“The whole world has the impression we resigned in shame. That’s what’s being reported,” she said.
When they resigned, the trustees cited bylaws that require at least six of the trustees to live within village limits as a reason.
During the discussion, Museum Director Pat Wesner said previous boards changed these bylaws, which were set as New York state law in 1978.
“Boards in the past had trouble filling this room and seats,” she said. Young said “the village had a responsibility too.”
“We’re the people who showed up. We made the decisions we made on precedents set for us. If the village can say they don’t know, I want us to be able to do the same,” he said, explaining the board was on a “last-ditched” effort when the board spent principal moneys.
“We’re a 20th century institution living on 19th century money,” Young said.
New Trustee Robert Tatko agreed with Young and said the village board and Pember board need to meet and further discuss the issues.
“I just don’t want any illusions we’re going to slap a happy face on this.”
“We have to go there with a positive attitude. Hopefully it’ll be positive from both sides,” King responded.
Young continued on, saying he perceived slander and negative media attention, as King encouraged him to move on.
“As long as you keep bringing up the negative, the longer it’s going to stay there. If we keep beating this, it’s going to be worse, not better. Let it go—it’s not helping,” she said.
“I’m saying the mayor’s not helping either,” Young said.
King proceeded with other items of business on the agenda, including financial and directors’ reports; Young continued to pipe in with comments about the village being equally at fault as Pember trustees.
Gail Woll, a former library director, spoke up.
“You keep repeating yourself in numerous places. I’m sure everyone here has heard what you have to say,” she said to Young.
Also during the meeting, the board approved the ordering of a new staff computer per Southern Adirondack Library System (SALS) mandate.
Library Director Ardyce Bresett explained that SALS refuses to allow the library to have an operating system older than Windows 7 on its network; it currently runs on Windows XP. The staff computer without a monitor will cost $545 and a new public computer without a monitor is $566; SALS will provide financial assistance in the form of a repayment schedule over 12 or 24 months.
In other matters:
-The board formed a building and grounds committee, a personnel committee, a finances committee and a fundraising committee and assigned several trustees to each one.
-Young and other board members encouraged new trustees to promote and be present at the First Friday series to help set up, clean up and fill other roles.
-Wesner reported the institution received more than $3,000 from 45 donations following its annual appeal. She also said the Pember received a donation of slate from Evergreen Slate Company for an upcoming roofing repair project.
The next regular board of trustees meeting will be held Thursday, March 20 at 6 p.m.