March 12, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—Thomas Galante appeared before the City Council again to testify about the library’s needs during a hearing on the mayor’s preliminary budget. Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley asked Galante if the library has hired a public relations firm to burnish the library’s image using taxpayer dollars. Galante responded no. Video
Galante, Queens Library president, is catching a lot of heat after a series of press reports revealed his high salary, perks such as a $37,000 city-supplied sports car, using $140,000 in taxpayer money to pay for renovations to his office and pulling down a six figure salary with a Long Island school district.
After questioned by Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, chair of the libraries committee, Councilman Crowley asked Galante about a supposed meeting of the library’s trustees last week that approved the hiring of attorneys to represent Galante and a public relations firm to counter the library’s recent negative press accounts.
“Is it true that the trustees voted on [those items] and are we using taxpayer dollars to pay for these attorneys and public relations firm?” Crowley asked.
“No, there was no vote on private attorneys. There was a $30,000 appropriation for a public relations firm as part of ongoing work we’re doing to promote the services we offer,” said Galante.
Van Bramer then reminded the committee that the hearing was about the preliminary budget and then deferred to Councilman Brad Lander.
Saying she was following up on Crowley’s questioning, Public Advocate Tish James asked Galante vis-à-vis the recent press coverage about the library’s governance.
“Has the board moved forward with respect to our request to disclose conflict-of-interest forms?” asked James.
Galante said that would be discussed in an upcoming board meeting.
Apparently library chair Van Bramer allowed Crowley to ask a follow-up question and she used the opportunity to again ask Galante that taxpayer dollars are not being used to pay for private attorneys.
Galante answered yes.
Crowley then questioned Galante about what she believes is discrepancies in the Queens Library’s budget. Galante reassured her that Crowley was misreading the financial statements and that the numbers he provided are correct, prompting Crowley to call for another hearing to ensure city dollars are being spent appropriately.
“Sure,” said Galante.
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