* May 26th Tribune…
A former Niles mayoral candidate who made videos promoting several candidates to the Niles-Maine Library District Board this year has been hired at $100 per hour by some of those same candidates to perform work at the library.
The board, including the four trustees elected last month, also froze spending (including book and video purchases) and mandated that the board must approve all new hires, among other measures.
Board members on Monday voted 4-3 to hire Steven Yasell’s video production company, Yissilmissil Productions, to “evaluate, assess and inventory for (sic) library equipment, systems and operations.”
Click here for Yasell’s social media oppo file, which came in over the transom. Quite a doozy. Whew.
* The controversy caused by the recent election is driving library employees into AFSCME’s arms. From the union…
Employees of the Niles-Maine District Library are organizing their union with AFSCME Council 31.
Nearly 100 librarians, patron support staff and other library workers will be part of the new union. They filed a majority-interest petition with the local panel of the Illinois Labor Relations Board last week.
Niles library workers are coming together in the wake of cuts to library funding, staff and programs threatened by newly elected members of the library board, who are engulfed in controversy over giving a $100-an-hour no-bid contract to their political supporter, Steven Yasell.
“The staff at the Niles-Maine District Library has spent decades working with different Board leadership to maintain a valuable community space and resource. But within just a few weeks, this new Board majority has made it obvious that they do not understand the functions of a public library and have no interest in learning them,” teen services librarian Rachel Colias said. “Once we realized we weren’t being offered a seat at the table, we pulled up our own with AFSCME. The people who work here have invested too much in this library to be so easily dismissed, and we hope to work as a union to protect our ability to serve anyone who relies on us.”
A broad group of community leaders led by Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky signed an open letter to the board, supporting the employees and opposing cuts to library services and staff.
“We are proud that the Niles-Maine District Library provides valuable services to our community, and we are dedicated to ensuring that those vital services continue,” the leaders’ letter begins. Unfortunately, the newly elected Library Board’s recent actions appear to place those services in jeopardy”, citing “propos[ed] cuts to library hours, programs, and outreach services”, “sharply increasing employees’ portion of health insurance premiums” and “hiring a videographer with political ties to board members and no experience auditing libraries as a consultant at the rate of $100/hour with no cap.”
* Tribune yesterday…
The executive director of the Niles-Maine District Library advised elected members of the library board that they are “protectors, not destroyers” as she accepted a resignation agreement last week.
Angry shouts, cries and boos erupted among audience members when library board President Carolyn Drblik, reconvening the open portion of a special meeting Friday at nearly 11 p.m., made a motion to accept the resignation of Susan Dove Lempke, who oversaw day-to-day library operations for the last six years. […]
Lempke, who began working at the library 23 years ago as a part-time youth services librarian and rose up through the ranks of administration, said she felt it necessary to leave her position because she believed some members of the board were seeking her termination.
“They were going to fire me so, rather than do that, I resigned,” Lempke said.
A video clip from the meeting is here.
* When elements of the far right take electoral control of a suburban library board and start handing out patronage to campaign people and getting rid of a fine public servant, nobody jumps up and says: “Don’t let the people vote!” Yet, when folks want a direct say in their local Chicago school board like everyone else in Illinois, well, that’s a different story altogether.
People have the right to choose their own destinies.