New regime at Carol Stream Library, but old challenges remain
Slate in control of Carol Stream library loses majority but not all board seats
With a new board majority set to be sworn into office, more changes could be on the horizon at the Carol Stream Public Library.
But this time, it's likely the new board will just be changing back from some of what the current board put in place since taking power nine months ago.
The five-person Support The Library slate of Jim Bailey, Patricia Johnson, Nadia Sheikh, Bonita Gilliam and Edward Jourdan swept all five open seats in Tuesday's election, defeating current board President Mike Wade's Support Your Library slate. That gives the former a 5-2 majority, with Wade allies David DeRango and Dominick Jeffrey remaining on the board. Their terms expire in 2015.
Kuhn Road property
Bailey, the board's vice president who was re-elected to a 2-year term, said the new board likely will discuss whether to keep the library's 7.5-acre Kuhn Road property on the market.
"I would say the consensus of opinion is to look at it to see if it continues to make sense," said Bailey, who was the lone vote in opposition to putting the property up for sale.
Wade, a longtime opponent of plans to build a new library on the property, proposed the sale after voters rejected three referendum proposals for a new building. The land at 2N540 Kuhn Road has been on the market since December. In February, the library received an offer from a nursing home company for $1,225,000 -- which is less than the list price of $1.8 million.
Wade, who will maintain his board majority for one more meeting on Wednesday, said negotiations are ongoing with the nursing home company and he doesn't expect a sale to occur before the new board is seated in May.
"I would not characterize a sale as imminent. I think it's a good possibility, but we have not been handed a signed contract," he said. "There are people that have inquired about the property. ... I think it would take months to finalize the sale rather than weeks."
Wade didn't predict what the new board might do but said he believes taking the property off the market with an offer pending wouldn't "serve the community well."
"They can certainly stop the community from realizing a profit on the property," Wade said.
Bailey said he doesn't have any information about the potential buyer's offer because "it's not shared with us. It's being done by Mr. Wade."
Bailey also said the new board likely will re-evaluate changes Wade's majority made to the board's bylaws that gave more power to the board, such as having a role in some hiring decisions. The board now has the power to approve hiring recommendations of the library director for full-time exempt positions, such as department heads. Previously, all hiring and firing decisions were made solely by the director.
"We're going to be looking for the library director to manage the library," Bailey said. "'Micromanagement' is not a word that's in our vocabulary."
The current library director, Susan Westgate, was hired by the board in December after the controversial firing of Ann Kennedy last July. Kennedy, who supported the Support The Library slate, says she has moved on and doesn't want her old job back. She has since started her own company.
Wade, who urged Kennedy's firing due to several "issues of communication," said her role in the election was "quite obvious that this was a personal attack against us."
"It wasn't about issues or the good of the library," he said. "I don't know if it was a vendetta. It certainly wasn't for the good of the community."
Kennedy said Wade is trying to discredit an election that didn't go his way.
"This was a vendetta against Mr. Wade's heavy-handed tactics as president of the library board. It was against his actions, not him personally," Kennedy said.
After Kennedy's firing, Wade said he ran "the risk of irritating the voter base."
Nevertheless, he still stands by the firing decision.
"I have no regrets about the actions that the entire board took," he said. "I very much think they acted in an appropriate and responsible manner as anybody given our responsibility would have acted."
The new board will take office in May, with DeRango and Jeffrey in the minority, and already it appears conflict won't be over anytime soon.
DeRango has filed a complaint with the county's election commission against Sheikh, one of the winning Support The Library candidates, for what he says was Sheikh electioneering on Election Day while she was a poll watcher at the library voting location.
Sheikh said she was credentialed and allowed to be at the polls to observe, and denied she was campaigning when she was there.
DeRango said he thinks there will be a number of new trustees from the Support The Library slate that he and Jeffrey will easily get along with. Interactions with others, he said, could lead to "very heated arguments."
"I feel we can (get along), but I believe Nadia will be one of those flies in the ointment who will not be easy to get along with," he said. "She's very argumentative. Flicking me off as she drives away, to me, is not a very good representative of the taxpayers."
He said the current board made a lot of changes for the better, but now that will "probably come to a complete halt."
Sheikh, meanwhile, says her husband saw DeRango and fellow Trustee Jerry Clark removing the Support The Library slate's campaign signs in the early morning hours of Election Day.
She says she doesn't "want to be friends" with the two remaining incumbents, but vowed to be cordial.
"I am there to conduct the library business," she said. "They are clearly out for blood and they know they're in the minority now. They're scared because the people have spoken. A small group of library lovers got rid of the board majority. How embarrassing is it for them?"
Bailey was the subject of a censure resolution approved by Wade's majority for what Wade said was "improper and abusive actions" at board meetings, including making untruthful statements, threatening the board president, using profanity, and interrupting board members.
The censure came after Bailey was quoted in a Jan. 9 Daily Herald article in which he called former library employee Elaine Wierdak -- the longtime girlfriend of Jeffrey -- "a patsy" who wasn't "smart enough" to have filed objections to the candidate nominating petitions of the Support The Library slate.
Bailey now says the board is looking forward and he is willing to work with the two trustees in the minority.
"It's going to be really easy," he said, "and it will take a lot of smiling."