Randall supervisor blasts chairman over library director letter

Randall Supervisor Bob Gehring used citizens comments at Thursday’s Town Board meeting to blast a letter written by town Chairman Bob Stoll regarding the demotion of Community Library director Mary Ellen Close.

Gehring said the letter wrongly characterized him — and the rest of the board — as favoring Close’s removal. In fact, he said he did not know anything about the letter, had difficulty getting a copy and did not favor its assertions.

randall-logoThe letter, Gehring said, was signed only by Stoll and was not supplied to other Town Board members.

“This is the most embarrassing situation I have been put in in the 14 years I have been on the Randall Town Board,” Gehring said. He said he learned about the letter by a constituent.

Close was demoted from library director to a senior circulation clerk — though her pay was not lowered — by a 6 to 2 vote of the Community Library board on Sept. 28. Each of the five member municipalities has two votes on the board. Both Randall members — Supervisor Ken Mangold and Irene Swan — voted for the demotion.

Gehring concluded his statement by calling on Stoll to apologize in a published statement.

Stoll declined to respond to Gehring’s  comments during the meeting, but defended the letter and its appropriateness afterwards. The letter was not written as representative of the Town Board but as of the town in his role as town chairman,  a role Stoll says is statutorily granted the town chairman.

“Our ordinances do give the chairman that latitude…” Stoll said after the meeting.

Stoll also pointed out the issue of Close’s employment would not be something the Town Board would weigh in on.

Stoll’s letter, dated Sept. 1, takes Close to task for working against the wishes of most of the member municipalities on the issue of how representation on the board should be apportioned — equal or by population. All the library’s member municipalities have approved some sort of resolution supporting equal representation. The library’s member municipalities are Twin Lakes, Silver Lake, Paddock Lake, Randall and Salem.

“On behalf of the Town of Randall, we request the Board of Trustees terminate Ms. Close’s employment and seek a replacement who is unaligned  politically and able to execute the Board of Trustee directions,” Stoll wrote in the letter.

It was the “on the behalf of the town” language that Gehring said misrepresnted his position.The board had never discussed Close’s demotion and there never was a citizen referendum on the matter.

“I fell Miss Close’s termination was uncalled for,” Gehring said. “I  believe this became a witch hunt.”

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