The Carnegie Public Library Board of Trustees held a special meeting to address matters involving employees and pending claims filed against the library before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The special meeting was held Monday night via ZOOM, but most of it was held behind closed doors with the community excluded from watching the board conduct public business and spend taxpayer dollars.
After calling the meeting to order, the board twice entered into executive session to discuss current and/or former employees and claims that have been filed against the library.
Under Mississippi law, in Code section 25-41-7, any public body can elect to enter into an executive session, meaning a closed session without access by the public or the media for select purposes as outline in the law. During executive sessions, the law allows the board to discuss certain matters that include the performance or character of employees, or litigation or claims against that organization.
Rulings by the court have clarified that boards going into executive session must define who or what case they are talking about and they must stick to discussion of that individual and issue.
The Clarksdale Press Register has repeatedly cautioned the board about entering executive session illegally.
The second executive session was described as specifically discussing multiple EEOC claims against the Carnegie Public Library by a former director of the library.
Former Carnegie Public Library librarian Floyd Cousin resigned earlier this year after only a few months as the library’s director. Cousin, a career librarian, cited violations by Board Chairman Shelia Winters in micro-managing the library and Winters’ desire to control employees and money at the library.
Council has threatened legal action if he is not restored to his post, but has said he will not serve if Winters is on the board. Council has cited a hostile work environment and failure to provide exact library business document and records as reasons he left.
The library board most recently was made aware of a $100,000 discrepancy in its books and has rectified that problem.
Winters alluded to financial concerns and urged State Auditor Shad White to audit the library’s finances, spending and general fund.
The board sought to reign in Winters at their May meeting, but library patrons and board members say nothing has changed.
The library is facing more than $300,000 in roof repairs and legal fees are also a major expenditure for the board.
They have already received a check for $75,000 from their insurance company for roof repairs and were given an estimate by a local roofing company for less than $70,000 to make the repairs. The board has contacted an architect about the roof repairs, which could add additional professional fees to the project.
In addition, The regularly scheduled monthly meeting set for Tuesday, was rescheduled to Thursday, Nov. 18 at 5:30 p.m.
As a result of the global pandemic, the library board of trustees conducts its public meetings via ZOOM.
While most public bodies are meeting openly the Library Board continues to meet virtually and has given no indication it plans to stop meeting via the internet. The library’s ZOOM meeting is public and a link to that meeting is posted on the library’s website: https://www.cplclarksdale.lib.ms.us/
CITY AND COUNTY LIBRARY BOARD APPOINTEES
At Large (Mayor Chuck Espy) – Jacqueline Tyler.
Ward 1 (Bo Plunk) – Vacant since Sept.
Ward 2 (Ken Murphey) – Chris Coleman.
Ward 3 (Willie Turner) – Joyce Hill.
Ward 4 (Ed Seals) – Rita Hanfor.
The City of Clarksdale levies a tax for the Library that raises approximately $238,000.
Dist. 1 Supervisor (Paul Pearson) - Nancy Foley.
Dist. 2 Supervisor (Pat Davis) - Lesley Johnson.
Dist. 3 Supervisor (Derrell Washington) LaFiesta Roland.
Dist. 4 Supervisor (Johnny Newson) - Shelia Winters.
Dist. 5 Supervisor (Roosevelt Lee) - Michella Campbell.
Coahoma County levies a 2 mill tax for the Library that raises approximately $360,000.