Board members of the Morton Grove Public Library passed a motion to oust Executive Director Ben Schapiro at a contentious meeting Thursday.
Following a 4–3 vote, the board decided to prepare a separation agreement with Schapiro and authorized President Mark Albers to execute the agreement. All four of the board members who voted yes to the measure are recently elected members who ran under the party name B-PAC, which is an acronym of the last names of Paul Berg, Catherine Peters, Albers and David Calimag. Secretary Daniel Hoffman, Arthur Goldstein and Christa Quinn all voted against the motion.
Visibly upset after the vote, Hoffman gave an unexpected announcement.
“I will remain on the board, but not as secretary,” Hoffman said. He declined to say any more than that when approached by Patch after the meeting was adjourned.
Relations between members of the library board have been far from hunky-dory since the B-PAC members swept library elections in April, winning a majority presence and appointing Albers to president. A major point of debate has been the prospect of a forensic audit being conducted on the library’s finances.
An agenda for the meeting indicated only that it would focus on the retention of legal counsel, as well as a decision regarding the “appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance or dismissal,” of a specific unnamed employee. The agenda gave little away, but it soon became apparent that there were serious matters at hand.
Shortly after roll call, Trustee Goldstein asked to make a statement. He said there were decisions already made on the board between certain members in advance to calling the session.
“In my opinion, this meeting is completely out of order,” said Goldstein. He called the proceedings "somewhat unethical."
Albers briskly thanked him for his statement and kept things moving to an executive session to decide on the retention of legal counsel, law firm Wolf and Tennant. As per village rules, the executive sessions were held away from the public, with citizens only allowed back into the boardroom for the official vote on the issue.
About 30 minutes later, residents were allowed back in to witness the board vote 4–3 to retain Wolf and Tennant.
Prior to voting to remove Schapiro, the board held another executive session, this one lasting more than an hour. Yelling from inside the heated board room could be heard by meeting-goers waiting outside.
Tensions eventually leaked outside the boardroom doors. At one point a loud male voice inside the room bellowed, “That was not why the levy was raised this year!”
This fueled a debate outside the room among residents about the recent tax levy and sparked a brief altercation between former library trustee Renee Miller and treasurer Peters' husband, Gil.
What began with bickering and snide remarks launched from both sides soon escalated to screaming and name-calling, and ended with the other residents intervening to separate the two after Gil approached the woman.
“We have enough of that in there; we don’t need that out here,” one resident said, pleading for civility.
As of press time, it was unclear why exactly the board wanted to remove Schapiro, and officials at the meeting declined to comment on the topic, citing that executive session rules prohibited the discussion of topics addressed during the private deliberations. Patch was unable to reach Schapiro in time for publication.