Magazine article American Libraries

Troubled Mequon Library Loses Another Director

Magazine article American Libraries

Troubled Mequon Library Loses Another Director

Article excerpt

Board members at the Frank L. Weyenberg Library of Mequon-Thiensville, Wisconsin, have refused to explain why they voted unanimously to fire Director Robert Hafeman. The vote not to renew Hafeman's contract, which expires September 5, occurred at a January 7 closed session, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported July 14. His termination was not publicly known until he informed library foundation members June 30.

After a dozen residents expressed support for Hafeman at the board's July 14 meeting and demanded to know why he was fired, former library board member Bill Schulz asked, "Can we expect an answer?" Board President Susan Nelson replied, "No, we don't respond to public comments." Schulz called Nelson's response "arrogance beyond reason."

Hafeman was hired in September 2000 to replace Vickie Chiappetti, who resigned nine months after taking the job, citing unrealistic board expectations (AL, Dec. 1999, p. 22). Her predecessor, Alice Sedgwick, resigned in July 1998 following a series of management disputes with the board (AL, Oct. 1998, p. 22). After Chiappetti's announcement, all 18 Weyenberg employees signed a letter asking the board to address plummeting staff morale.

The Journal Sentinel has filed a complaint with Ozaukee County District Attorney Sandy Williams that the board's closed-session vote to fire Hafeman violated the state's open meetings law. The newspaper asked that the action be voided and the board be ordered to vote again in open session.

According to personnel records obtained by the newspaper, Hafeman was fired because he failed to meet the board's demands to improve his performance in regard to the library's fiscal management and communication with the board and staff.

However, Hafeman released a statement disputing the board's contentions, charging that "Undated memos with vague observations do not necessarily reflect matters as they truly are." The August 2 Journal Sentinel said Hafeman found "especially troubling" allegations of "communication issues and fiscal mismanagement," stating that "Nothing has been brought to my attention regarding any statements I have made. I am always respectful. …

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