Warren-Newport Public Library District board member Ron Friedman has been given a public scolding by a majority of his colleagues who claim his conduct is unbecoming as an elected official.
However, Friedman said last week's formal censure during a meeting of the Gurnee-based board was more like a "grown-up version of being bullied by a group of kids on the playground."
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Library board President Laurie Styrcula and members Steve Weinberg, Jo Beckwith and Mary Ann Bretzlauf voted in favor of the censure resolution. Friedman and board member Andrea Farr Capizzi abstained.
The censure document accuses Friedman, in part, of failing to prepare for board and committee meetings, making undue and unauthorized demands of library staff and overall unbecoming conduct that's "unprofessional, inappropriate and contrary to library policy."
Friedman said he was not given much of a chance to refute the censure's accusations.
Styrcula said it's believed Friedman is the first Warren-Newport trustee to be censured. She said the action, which amounts to a public scolding, was meant to get Friedman to improve his behavior as a board member.
Elected to a six-year library term in 2009, Friedman caused a stir among his colleagues when he set up equipment to video record a meeting in April 2012. In November, he was unsuccessful in trying to convince a board majority that meetings should be videotaped by the library district and made available to the public in an effort for greater transparency.
According to the censure, Friedman has been in conflict with his fellow library board trustees since a Daily Herald story in May 2011 reported he used the name Judah Soledad when he voiced concerns during public comment time at some Lake County Housing Authority meetings in Grayslake. Friedman said that's when at least four of the trustees developed a "negative attitude" toward him.
"What didn't get reported at the time was the reason for using that alias, to protect the identity of my then-wife who had earlier worked there," Friedman said in a statement.
Malgorzata Friedman filed a since-settled federal discrimination lawsuit against the housing authority in February 2011, which contended being white and Polish led to problems at her job. Ron Friedman identified himself as Soledad when he spoke to the agency board before and after the suit was filed.
Friedman noted the irony in receiving an honorable mention for a poem he penned under the name Judah Soledad in this year's creative writing contest sponsored by Friends of the Warren-Newport Public Library. Stephen Bero, executive director of the library district, said Friedman also used the Soledad name when he read his poem to the crowd at Sunday's awards ceremony for the 20th annual contest.