Possible action against trustee draws another packed house to Gurnee library board

  • Jo Beckwith

    Jo Beckwith

By Korrina Grom
Daily Herald correspondent
Updated 3/19/2014 5:01 PM

Warren-Newport Public Library District's board meeting Tuesday in Gurnee drew a packed house in support of an elected library trustee -- one week after a large crowd vocally backed the agency's executive director.

Trustee Jo Beckwith was the recipient of the visible audience support. She was on the library board's meeting agenda for a possible censure, or public scolding by her colleagues.


But trustees wound up voting unanimously to remove the proposed censure from the agenda after it became known during the meeting Beckwith forced the issue to come out in public.

Beckwith put the item on the agenda after a closed-door meeting last week, where a fellow elected official purportedly read a two-page censure document aimed at her.

After the meeting, Beckwith contended the censure document would have been improper because it was read during a closed session that had been called for other reasons. She said the threatened censure was for something she did as board secretary.

"I put it on the agenda myself because I didn't want them (board opponents) to do it to me, so I wouldn't be ambushed at a public meeting," Beckwith said. "I just wanted to be proactive."

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On March 11, at least 140 spectators turned out mostly in support of library Executive Director Stephen Bero, who's retiring in July. Several speakers during public comment time praised Bero's nine-year tenure and asked board members to allow him to stay on the job.

Toward the end of last week's marathon session, a board member's motion to place Bero on administrative leave for three weeks died because it was not seconded -- a necessary parliamentary move at government meetings. No specifics or reasons were provided to the public on the failed move to put Bero on leave.

At Tuesday's meeting, Beckwith backers and former library trustees Mary Ann Bretzlauf and Laurie Styrcula were among those to speak at public comment time. They asked the library board to dismiss the idea of censuring Beckwith.

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