On April 22, 2013, Connie Stephens resigned from the New Hartford Public Library.
Shortly thereafter on June 13, 2013, Earl Cunningham resigned from the New Hartford Public Library.
In both instances, the trustees cited their inability to work with Trustee Wiatr. Somehow, their unusually descriptive resignation letters were received by the Observer Dispatch and they became the subject of news articles.
At the beginning of last evening’s New Hartford Public Library Trustee meeting, Board President Linda Romano Petralia suggested that perhaps the board should consider honoring Earl Cunningham by bringing him back as Trustee Emeritus.
Shortly thereafter, Mary DuRoss suggested that the same designation be extended to Connie Stephens. This would allow them to sit at the table with the current Board of Trustees and participate in discussions, but they would have no vote. The question was raised by one of the board members if that would mean they should be allowed to sit in on executive sessions. Attorney Romano Petralia wasn't sure, but she said she would do some checking.
Usually emeritus is an honor bestowed on a retiree. These are not retiring members of the board...they quit the board, but not before making it appear that Mr. Wiatr was the root of all evil. Not very professional letters of resignation on their part.
We found several articles regarding emeritus status. One such article says:
Trustees emeriti (who should not have voting privileges) should limit their participation at board meetings to the governing board’s official “annual” meeting. When they do attend board meetings, trustees emeriti should be appropriately deferential to current board members and board leadership;We checked...the library by-laws do not include emeritus status criteria and the library has no official policy on the subject. How many will be named? Can they attend executive sessions? Just what criteria should be used to name someone emeritus?
Board by-laws should reflect specific criteria for selection as a trustee emeritus, honorary, or life board member as well as responsibilities and expectations;
It is indeed ironic that Attorney Linda Romano Petralia would think that the two resigning board members would even want to sit on the same board as Mr. Wiatr because as Ms.Stephens wrote in her resignation letter..."I am unwilling, if not unable, to continue to tolerate Mr. Wiatr's treatment of me and other Trustees".
Mr. Cunningham stated in his letter, "Although my action is partially based on family (wife) health needs, I would be remiss in not addressing another significant factor; that is, the existence of Trustee Edmund Wiatr on the Library Board."
There are currently eleven (11) members of the board of trustees, more than enough to discuss library business. Now all of a sudden they want to expand the board to thirteen (13) if you include the two (2) proposed emeriti who supposedly will not be allowed to vote. Yet, during the re-chartering vote, they thought it best to limit the board to seven (7) members.
When it comes to this board you have to ask, what is the real reason for the sudden decision to bring back board members who left mid-term due to their alleged inability to work with one particular board member who still happens to be on the board?
Perhaps in their minds, publicly maligning Mr. Wiatr seemed to be their only hope of getting him off the library board and now "resignation regret" is starting to set in or perhaps they are merely preparing for some other farce yet to be unveiled.
Undoubtedly, where there’s smoke, there’s fire!