Carol Stream fires library director in 4-2 vote

On July 18, Ann Kennedy thought she had been fired.

A week later, she is.

The Carol Stream Public Library board voted 4-2 Wednesday to dismiss Kennedy as library director after six years in the position and a total of 20 years working at the library. Board President Mike Wade called a revote after learning the board's original 3-1 vote that he was short a vote to fire Kennedy.

The library's bylaws require a majority of trustees present to approve any recommendation, and two trustees — David DeRango and Susan Galle — abstained from the first vote.

At Wednesday's meeting, DeRango joined Wade, Dominick Jeffrey and Jerry Clark in voting to fire Kennedy. Galle and Mary Hudspeath voted no, and Jim Bailey, a Kennedy supporter, said he wasn't able to attend the meeting.

DeRango said he originally abstained because of a possible conflict of interest — his wife, Linda, a former library employee, is suing the library for wrongful termination. She argues in the suit she was fired because she opposed the library's April 2007 referendum push to build a new facility.

But on Wednesday, library attorney Britt Isaly informed DeRango there wouldn't be a conflict of interest if he voted.

“He basically told me it's my duty to vote either way. I don't like doing it any more than anybody else,” DeRango said after the meeting. “My wife talks to her attorney. I'm not privy to what they talk about. She gives me highlights. That is her issue — what she's doing — and I'm just supporting her as a husband. ... She's a very loving individual, and she was wronged, but I'm not going to get into any of that. That's her issue, and this is not part of that issue.”

During the meeting, Hudspeath read the library board's ethics statement before bringing up Linda DeRango's lawsuit to her husband.

“I object to that,” DeRango said.

“I don't care if you object to that,” Hudspeath said.

Wade hasn't specifically discussed why he's wanted to fire Kennedy, though a four-page document distributed to trustees and obtained by the Daily Herald lists several “issues of communication with the board.”

He's long differed with Kennedy since being elected to the board in 2009, running on a platform opposed to what he said was high library taxes and improper spending by Kennedy. DeRango and Jeffrey, who ran on the same slate with Wade in 2009, were elected two years later.

When two longtime board members stepped down earlier this year, the board appointed Clark and Galle, whom Wade met as organizer of the Chicago West Patriots Tea Party.

Wade, addressing a room of nearly 100 residents — most Kennedy supporters — said her firing isn't personal.

“My opinion and the opinion of other board members is the director has not corrected issues different boards have asked her to work on in three years,” Wade said. “The director left out information for the board to conduct its business on many occasions. The board is acting on performance issues over the last three years. This isn't a vendetta. This isn't a personal matter.”

After the vote had been taken, Kennedy responded to Wade's accusations.

“The main complaint of Mr. Wade is that he does not like the way I communicate with the board. That came up in my 2010 and 2011 evaluations. But I was also told at the time I was making improvements.”

Kennedy also said Wade didn't like when she said “yes, sir” or when she made a lighthearted joke. She also said she never left out information for the board to conduct its business.

The board appointed Mary Clemens as interim director. Clemens was recently appointed as head of youth services, while she continues to handle responsibilities for her old position, director of circulation. Clemens takes on Kennedy's responsibilities just weeks after Pam Leffler, the assistant library director, left for another job.

Clemens said during the meeting she has “deep concerns” with Kennedy's firing.

“The library will have lost 70 years of administrative experience and continuity in two months' time,” Clemens said. “It will create a huge void that will negatively affect library operations and service to our patrons.”

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  An overflow crowd of Carol Stream residents applaud in support of Library Director Ann Kennedy, who was fired Wednesday night by the library board. Scott Sanders/
  Carol Stream resident John Armstrong, right, urges members of the library board to vote against the firing of Library Director Ann Kennedy on Wednesday night. Despite those pleas and those of an overflow crowd of Kennedy supporters, the board voted 4-2 to fire her. Scott Sanders/
  Carol Stream Library Director Ann Kennedy was fired Wednesday night after six years as director and a total of 20 years at the library. Scott Sanders/
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