Gail Borden trustee's costs to library in question
Gail Borden Public Library Trustee Randy Hopp campaigned as a taxpayers' advocate when he ran for a position on the district board in 2009.
But fellow trustees say Hopp has been just the opposite, costing the Elgin-based district $12,315.89 in staff and attorney time in responding to his repeated Freedom of Information Act requests in 2010.
At a board meeting Thursday, Hopp promised he would continue to submit requests for tape recordings of board meetings, despite rulings by the state Attorney General's office that the tapes didn't have to be released. He also threatened to take the matter to court.
Joyce Schifferer, a library administrative assistant, records the meetings on her personal recorder and later uses the tape to assist in writing the minutes.
Hopp said he wants the actual recordings because the "propaganda sheet that comes out as minutes" doesn't suffice.
Trustee JoAnn Armenta said Hopp's submission of continuous FOIA requests "seems tantamount to harassment." She argued that time and money could better be used to service library patrons.
"(More than) $12,000 of staff and attorney time for something you know you're not going to get seems, I don't know a better word, but outrageous," she said.
Hopp routinely votes against approving library bill payments, saying it's unacceptable that the library staff has not provided trustees with documentation of the bills.
Library Executive Director Carole Medal said Hopp can ask the library staff about expenditures.
"You can ask the question. You've just never asked. You can ask verbally. We are prepared to answer," Medal said.
Trustee Herb Gross told Hopp: "As long as the checks are legal, we do not need to have each check put down there and what it's for. It's not unacceptable to me. The only one it's unacceptable to is you."
Hopp said he wants the information on paper.
"Apparently I'm the only one who represents the taxpayers," Hopp said.
On Thursday, Hopp was the lone vote against two otherwise- routine board activities. One was to ensure Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund benefits protection for a staff member going on leave. The board's approval guarantees the employee won't lose her benefits when she returns to work, and the move doesn't cost the library anything, officials said.
Hopp asked Medal who the employee was and the reason for leave.
"It's personal and it's protected," Medal said.
Hopp also voted to reject the library's monthly security report. He questioned a Dec. 18 public disturbance report of a patron found sleeping in the library, who had the smell of alcohol on his breath. Hopp said the incident was brought about by security staffers, who argued they were being proactive.
Hopp's issues with security don't end there.
Security staffers are required to escort Hopp to monthly board meetings, since he is not allowed in the library itself.
The board banned him from being in the library through June 2012 for harassing the staff. He has been banned by fellow trustees three consecutive times since being elected in 2009.
Board President Rick McCarthy summed up Thursday night's board meeting after hearing a club in a neighboring meeting room laughing uproariously.
"They're having a lot of fun over there," McCarthy said. "They're in the wrong room."