A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Litmus Test for Library Board Membership Says A Lot

Multiple reliable sources tell me that a well-qualified local resident who dutifully submitted the required interest form to become a member of the Matawan Aberdeen Public Library Board of Trustees was summarily rejected due to his position on last fall's transfer of "surplus funds" from the library to the two municipalities. There was an actual litmus test, a questioning of the prospect by a ranking politician about one important matter: What was that person's position on absconding with long-saved capital improvement funds to provide short-term taxpayer relief? (Well, maybe it wasn't asked that way, but you get the general idea.)

We citizens were scolded on Wednesday night, told that there were no applicants for the trustee position. Maybe some board members actually believed that the two municipalities had to beat the bushes to find suitable prospects? I could see how those board members who spoke up at Wednesday's meeting (some were notably silent, at least while the public was there), were unaware of the backroom politicking afoot in the selection process. And I wonder what those who spoke think now? The truth is that trustee seats are NOT available just because you're qualified and submit a damned form.

The revelation of a litmus test for volunteer service in our municipalities means we need to subject the board member selection process to public scrutiny. And its revelation also tells us why we've seen 1) the current stacking of the board, 2) the talk of removing Susan Pike as Library Director, and 3) an unseemly delay in the publication of the library's fund balances: Ultimately, it is all about political control of the library's so-called surplus funds.

(Note: The link to the right has been fixed. Sorry for any inconvenience. Pat) As for N.J.S.A. 40:54-29.16. Certification of sum needed for operation of joint library; apportionment, what exactly is the point of holding a joint session between the borough and township councils and the library's board of trustees if the trustees are either already members of the municipal executive bodies they are meeting with or are coercively obliged to them for their trustee position and, in some cases, a municipal salary? Last fall I thought that David was facing Goliath when the board met with the two municipalities to fend off the transfer of library funds to Aberdeen and Matawan. Now I see that the trustees were obliged to do as they were told. It's sad to say, but now there isn't even a loincloth to hide behind.


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