Appointment of New Board Member
First up in October was the appointment by the Lafayette Parish Council of a new board member to replace Vice President Landon Boudreaux, who resigned in the wake of the attempted firing of librarian Cara Chance in July.
After the call for applications, the Council met on October 4 to make their decision. Out of a pool of 10 applicants, two were nominated by council members: Christie Maloyed, a professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, was nominated by A.B. Rubin, and Erasto Padron, Jr., a local IT professional and military veteran, was nominated by John Guilbeau. Ms. Maloyed currently serves on the LPL Foundation board, a charitable organization whose purpose is to raise money to buy books and fund other special needs at the library. She has a proven track record of deep interest in library matters, as well as a willingness to volunteer her time to make the library better. She has done this for years with no pay and no expectation of recognition. In that same spirit of service she has applied for open seats on the Board of Control several times in the past. However, despite her amazing qualifications, she has been rejected each and every time.
Padron, on the other hand, has no history of service to the library in any capacity, nor have I seen him at a Board of Control meeting in the last two years, which would at least indicate an interest in its current issues. I don't know if he or his family are regular patrons of library services, but what I do know from sources is that his religious beliefs and politics align with other Evangelical Christians on the Parish Council. This, apparently, is the one and only qualification that counts when it comes to appointing library board members in Lafayette Parish.
It should also be noted that Ms. Maloyed was at the Council Meeting; Mr. Padron did not bother to show up.
Once again, several members of the public spoke in favor of the more qualified candidate. In an unprecedented move, the library Director, Danny Gillane, spoke on behalf of Ms. Maloyed, pointing out that he had worked with her before through her involvement with the Foundation, and felt she would be a true asset to the Board of Control.
Not one person spoke on behalf of Mr. Padron.
Still, despite ALL of this, Councilmen Guilbeau, Tabor, and Carlson, the Evangelical Three, voted to approve Padron to the Board. And so the Parish Council threw away yet another opportunity to bring some sanity and level-headedness to our library's governing body, instead choosing fear and ignorance over good sense. Now, yet another person who knows little to nothing about the library and how it works, armed only with a Bible as his guiding principle, will have a 1/8 say in how our multi-million dollar library system is run. It would be funny, if it weren't so tragic.
LPL Board of Control
Regular October Monthly Meeting
Re-Election of Board Officers
For the October Meeting Agenda, Click HERE.
For the October Meeting Audio, Click HERE.
The October 17 meeting of the LPL Board of Control was notable for two reasons: the continuation of the recently-introduced rules on public comments which we believe violate the public's First Amendment rights, and the election of board officers for the 2022 - 2023 year.
First, the amazing Tulane First Amendment Law Clinic sent the following letter to the members of the Board of Control and to the Parish Council:
The letter makes clear our position, and states in legal terms exactly why we consider Judge's new rules to be egregious infringements on the rights of citizens.
Of course, come meeting time, Judge neither acknowledged the letter nor reconsidered any of the policies. The sign still hangs on the library door, and the policy stayed in place throughout the meeting (with a notable exception, but more on that in a minute).
One thing the letter didn't mention was the new, increased security at meetings, a policy put in place at the same time as the new speaker guidelines. As time has gone on, Mr. Judge has more and more often felt it necessary to have an LPSO deputy at the back of the room. With one exception, (when a member of the public was arrested simply for speaking out of turn), they haven't done much. Now, however, Mr. Judge has TWO LPSO DEPUTIES flanking the table at the front of the room where the board sits, not unlike royal guards on either side of a throne. There they sit, throughout the meeting, staring down speakers as they come up to the podium. For lack of a better term, it's disgusting, and grasping. No other public body in Lafayette has such a procedure, and there is absolutely no reason for it other than to try and intimidate the members of the public who stand up to speak.
In recent months, local Evangelical Christian groups (including some particularly frightening ones) have been rallying support to counteract our efforts at preventing book bans at LPL, sending a core group of approximately 20 - 25 people who've shown up off and on throughout the summer. Even though no book challenges have been on the agenda recently, several of them speak at every meeting, telling Robert Judge he's doing a great job protecting the library from the "groomers" (dirty looks in our direction), and imploring him to please continue protecting the children of Lafayette from the porn they mistakenly believe to be sitting on the shelves of the library. We think these people are personally connected to one or more of the board members.
They showed up again on October 17 for the election of officers. When the time came to elect a President, ten of them got up and praised Judge's leadership skills, thanking him for spending the preceding year protecting the youth of Lafayette from the evils of pornography. Never mind that not one of them has been there for ANY of the reconsideration hearings we've had in the past year, so their "concern" has mysteriously appeared recently.
In other words, we believe they were specifically there to speak favorably about Robert Judge, and make it look as though he had a groundswell of community support, when, in fact, the opposite is true.
I also said I'd get back to the exception of Judge's new public comment rules. Nearly every one of the ten speakers on his behalf used his name specifically in their comments and he didn't stop A SINGLE ONE for calling out a board member's name in public comments. NOT ONE. So, it appears that his new rules ONLY apply to those who are criticizing him, not those who are praising him. If this isn't a crystal clear violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, I don't know what is.
Of course, if you were a person who'd been following library issues over the last year you'd know this, wouldn't you? Someone who was ignorant of those issues, like, say...new board members who had ZERO knowledge or experience of our library situation might just be totally duped by such a display.
And they were.
Daniel Kelly remarked that he was very impressed by all the support for Judge, and voted for him. Padron, initially abstaining since it was his first meeting, decided what the heck when it became clear that his vote would be the deciding one, and threw his support behind Judge as well. In the end Judge was re-elected 5-3, with the new members making the difference. James Thomas was elected Vice President.
Great job, Parish Council. Mission Accomplished. We have another year ahead of us with Robert Judge at the helm of our public library. Who knows what kind of destruction he (and this board) can bring about with another twelve months of time?
We won't forget, however. Election 2023 is coming, and every Parish Council seat is up for grabs. LCAC absolutely plans to make the library an election season issue.