Evanston Library Board members appeared nonplussed this evening about how a law firm was chosen to be paid to conduct a workshop on state library law for the board next month, a session announced by Board President Chris Stewart.
Library Board President Chris Stewart
Board Vice President Susan Newman said she didn’t know how the selection was made and didn’t recall any vote to select the Chicago firm of Ancel Glink to conduct the workshop.
Library Director Mary Johns said she knew nothing about the decision and referred questions to Stewart who repeatedly refused to answer a reporter’s questions after the meeting and raced out of the community meeting room at the main library where the board meeting was held.
The Library Board voted several months ago to allocate up to $5,000 from its budget for legal representation in its dispute with the city over funding issues, but none of the board members present could recall when a decision to hire the firm had been made.
Board Member Dona Gerson asked Stewart, “Is the law firm working pro-bono or being paid by the hour? What’s the relationship with the law firm.”
Board Member Dona Gerson asks a question.
Stewart responded that there was a contract with the firm for an hourly rate.
Gerson said she recalled that the board several months ago had appropriated $5,000 for legal services, but added, “I don’t recall us selecting a firm.”
Paul Gottschalk, the library’s administrative services manager, said the selection wasn’t made by the library’s staff.
Board member Susan Stone said, “I’m sort of feeling the same way [as Gerson]. It would have been nice to come to an agreement before being informed that we’re having a paid attorney.”
Newman asked whether the contract would “use our $5,000” appropriated for legal services, and Stewart said, “No,” but provided no clarification about how the firm was to be paid.
The workshop session is scheduled to be held from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Nov. 13. Board members decided that while the public and city officials would be welcome to attend, anyone wishing to ask questions would have to submit them in writing.
The Ancel Glink firm is the author of a financial manual for libraries published by the Illinois Library Association.
The workshop session is designed to provide the board guidance as it pursues its goal of imposing its own tax on Evanston property owners free from any oversight by the City Council.