Public Libraries: Queens Library Boss Spent Funds on Tickets, Fancy Dinners, and More
From the New York Daily News:
Queens Library chief Thomas Galante used his organization’s funds like a personal piggy bank before being put on leave last month from his $392,000-a-year post, city Controller Scott Stringer found.
The eye-popping credit card charges Galante ran up during fiscal year 2013, according to Stringer’s preliminary review of library finances, include:
- Dinners each month with a small group of library trustees costing taxpayers about $1,000 a pop with “charges for numerous cocktails, wines and expensive entrees.”
- Four tickets to a concert by the band Maroon 5 that cost $1,962.
- Multiple room-service charges for liquor and pay-per-view hotel movies while Galante was out-of-town on library business.
- A $235 autographed photo of Mets hero Mookie Wilson and ballplayer Bill Buckner to decorate the chief executive’s office.
- A Mahogany Carleton desk from England priced between $2,000 and $3,275.
The News reported the letter Friday, after which Stringer’s office provided it to the Queens Chronicle.
“The potential impropriety of these charges as well as some limited and inconsistent amounts of supporting documentation accompanying the credit card statements available for inspection suggests, at a minimum, that the library lacks adequate policies and fiscal controls,” the comptroller said. “Best practice for good corporate governance dictates that an organization have strong and clear policies and internal controls to ensure that expenses are sufficiently related to the organization’s charitable purpose and that they are reasonable and cost-effective. Based on my representative’s review of information that the library has shared with me as a trustee, I am deeply troubled by the nature and possibly excessive amount of many expenditures.”
Stringer’s wording indicates that his office received the documents the letter addresses in his capacity as an ex-officio member of the board. Among the new trustees’ first moves was to pass a resolution calling on the library to share all financial records with the board.
The comptroller’s letter does not address whether the funds spent on meals, travel, the concert and Galante’s office amenities were public or private.
The complete article includes a statement from the Queens Library Board of Trustees.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.