Four members of the Sugar Grove Library Board of Trustees—Art Morrical, Joan Roth, Julie Wilson and Bob Bergman (with a dishonorable mention to Sabrina Malano, who resigned before the action, but not before helping reappoint two of these, thus enabling the intention and ensuring the outcome)—have made a lasting impact on the community that will forever be their legacy of shame.
As many of you are aware, on July 14, the board summarily and without explanation fired the library director of 21 years, Beverly Holmes Hughes. Despite being an integral part of the community—2010 Sugar Grove Citizen of the Year, a founding member of the Chamber of Commerce, continual volunteer and support to countless civic activities—Beverly was brutally instructed to vacate her office that very night.
What egregious or unlawful act had she committed to deserve or demand this contemptible treatment? No one knows, because the board refuses to offer an explanation. It certainly was not so heinous or of immediate urgency that it was obvious to all trustees—the vote was 4 to 2. In fact, at the July 28 board meeting, Trustee Bill Durrenberger stated he saw no reason.
Beverly was informed the board wanted to go in another direction. After being instrumental in creating the new library building, after making the library a centerpiece of the community, after ensuring the library would fully function and serve the public despite dwindling funds, in what incorrect direction exactly was Beverly going? And in what direction is this board taking our precious public asset? What vision is guiding them that necessitated this abrupt and painful act?
The only comment from any of the cabal of four, by Trustee Bob Bergman, was the almost comical, “We haven’t defined ‘new direction’ for ourselves, so I can’t define it for you.”
This board is more interested in vendettas and personal ego than fulfilling their public duty. This board failed to define expectations, with measurable metrics, for the director. Instead of their mission of general oversight, this board habitually meddles in personnel, program and acquisition decisions. Instead of following their elected responsibilities, they would rather act as amateur librarians.
This board has overseen countless failed referendums, thus failing to ensure the future health of their charge. This board has made numerous financial mis-steps that have made a challenging situation dire. Now add to the strain of limited taxpayer funding the unnecessary cost of hiring a consultant to find a new director. Now add unnecessary attorney fees being incurred to protect the board from the taxpayers. Now add the reality that the library’s strongest supporters likely will not work for future referendums. Now add the alienation of the Friends of the Library group, which funds programs and acquisitions.
This board has chosen to make the respected and highly regarded director the scapegoat for their ineptitude. At the July 28 public board meeting, despite widespread calls from the community they are accountable to, the board again refused to justify their actions. Over 75 members of the community—including the head of the Friends of the Library, trustees of the Village Board, a library professional consultant, and many regular library users—demanded for this action to be reversed. Twenty-one spoke against the board with no one in favor. The calls for board members responsible to resign were unending (listen to it at http://cl.ly/3B0B064 70l260d1T1I3A).
This issue is not going away, despite indifference of the board to those they are supposed to serve, as the Aug. 2 poll in this newspaper demonstrated when only 20 percent of over 130 respondents favored the board. Why? As this paper stated Aug. 4: “Whenever the community needed her, she has not only been there, but has been a leader.”
The next public board meeting is Aug. 11 at 7 p.m. Make your voice heard. It is past time this board cease to ignore those that elected them, cease to put their egos ahead of the public and cease the incredible harm they have done. Their neighbors have spoken. It is past time this board act mature, adult and admit a mistake or forever be tarred in the community. There are two courses available to salvage their legacy and reputations: either re-instate Beverly or resign.
Sugar Grove Public Library
Board of Trustees