Following recent revelations regarding questionable spending and a lack of effective oversight at the Queens Borough Public Library, Borough President Melinda Katz, Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry today announced they have crafted and introduced legislation to reform the operations of the Library's Board of Trustees and improve the Library's overall governance (A.9217/S.6893).
The legislation, introduced in the state Legislature by Assemblyman Aubry and Senator Gianaris and drafted with the assistance of Borough President Katz, calls for the implementation of several "best practice" reforms, including the creation of an audit committee to oversee the Library's accounting and financial reporting processes and its annual audits and the establishment of a labor relations committee to address labor issues and oversee the contracting out of services. It would also require key executive staff of the Queens Library to file financial disclosure forms and would subject them to limitations on any outside employment that may present a conflict of interest with their library duties. In addition, the bill would require the Library's Board of Trustees to approve the hiring of key Library staff.
The bill would also restructure the Board of Trustees and the process governing the removal of Trustees from the Board.
"The Queens Library System is a jewel in the borough of Queens. It has an extraordinary history of service in every community of Queens. Recent events have the potential of dulling this jewel. This legislation focuses on the governance of the library so that the services it provides can again be an inspiration to the entire borough. I want to thank my colleagues Borough President Melinda Katz and Senator Mike Gianaris for their work on this legislation," said Assemblyman Aubry.
"The Queens Library is not only a symbol of our commitment to education and an invaluable resource for those seeking to enrich their understanding of the world. It is also a taxpayer-funded institution with no right to unjustly enrich its employees at the expense of New Yorkers," said Senator Gianaris. "This bill would immediately rein in the excesses of the Queens Library and provide a long-term blueprint for efficiency, transparency, and accountability."
"The Queens Library is a treasured institution that has long served as a beacon of knowledge, education and entertainment for the people of Queens," Borough President Katz said. "Recently, the public's trust in the Library system has been questioned. The legislation that Assemblyman Aubry, Senator Gianaris and I have crafted would, if enacted, help restore that trust by compelling the Queens Library to implement a series of reforms that would bring its governance practices up to the standards held by similar not-for-profit institutions. Passage of the bill into law would be an important step toward making the Queens Library an institution that all Queens residents can be proud of once again."
This bill has garnered the support of many members of the Queens Delegation, including Senator Peralta, Senator Addabbo, Senator Sanders, Senator Smith, Senator Stavisky, Assemblyman Braunstein, Assemblywoman Clark, Assemblywoman Cook, Assemblyman Dendekker, Assemblyman Goldfeder, Assemblyman Hevesi, Assemblywoman Markey, Assemblyman Scarborough, Assemblyman Simanowitz and Assemblywoman Titus.
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