Magazine article American Libraries

Pueblo Board Resigns after Firing Director. (News Fronts)

Magazine article American Libraries

Pueblo Board Resigns after Firing Director. (News Fronts)

Article excerpt

A controversy that began when the Pueblo (Cob.) City-County Library District board fired the library's popular director has brought about the resignation of the entire board in the face of pressure from city and county officials.

Board President Glenn Ballantyne resigned April 29, nearly a month after he and the other trustees had dismissed Executive Director Richard Lee, who had questioned the library's contract with Ballantyne, who also was serving as a paid fundraiser for the library. The remaining four trustees offered their resignations at a May 5 meeting of the city council and county commissioners. The officials had previously announced their intention to remove the trustees had they not quit voluntarily.

Lee had been named to head the library last October following the death of director Charles E. Bates. After firing him April 3, the board replaced him as interim director with Barclay Jameson, a former executive of the Pueblo Chieftain newspaper with no library experience.

Whistle-blowing the cause? Library attorney Don Banner said the board didn't feel that Lee could serve as both executive director and project manager for a new library now being built, the Denver Post reported April 10. But Lee's attorney, Lee Sternal, claimed he was fired in part for raising questions about the library's business arrangement with Ballantyne, whom the Post said had received over $188,000 since 1997 for fundraising services.

Lee rejected the board's offer that he stay on at his current salary solely as project manager, the newspaper said. The $22-million facility, to be named after Chieftain publisher Robert Rawlings, is scheduled to open in October.

Following extensive media coverage and strong opposition to Lee's dismissal voiced by staff and patrons at an April 9 board meeting, Ballantyne submitted his resignation letter to Jameson April 29. Earlier in the month Ballantyne had announced he had cut his business ties with the library.

A May 1 board meeting drew some 70 library employees and other residents, many of whom demanded that the board rehire Lee, then resign. Doris Kester, Lee's sole supporter on the board, moved that he be reinstated, but her motion failed to receive a second, the May 2 Chieftain reported. …

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