For the August Meeting Agenda, Click HERE.
For the link to librarian Cara Chance's GoFundMe, Click HERE.
August Meeting Guide
The August regular meeting agenda was released after 2pm on Friday, just at the board's usual time of just under the legal deadline. The agenda was significant for our purposes mostly because of what was NOT on it - action in Cara's employment case. Supposedly tabled until the August 15th meeting, it has now disappeared completely from board action, which could nonetheless have significant consequences for Cara's life. But I'll get to that in a moment.
Item III. C. - Approval of Minutes of the July 25, 2022 Special Meeting
I plan to speak on this item because this meeting, unlike every other meeting of the BoC, wasn't recorded, and so the minutes are incomplete. Even a cursory look shows that several speakers remarks aren't recorded at all in the minutes, leaving minutes full of holes. While technically not illegal, this leaves a poor record and should be noted and corrected in the future.
Item VII. A. New Business - N.E.Library
Normally I wouldn't add items to our guide that are not directly related to censorship, but I do want to briefly touch on this issue, as the current Board of Control began their tenure back in January 2021 by declining a grant from the LA Endowment for the Humanities on the History of Voting Rights in Louisiana, a topic which very much intersects with censorship and the African American community here in Lafayette. The newly proposed N.E. Library is to be built in a historically underserved, historically Black portion of the parish, and so I do think it needs to be talked about, followed, and spoken up for.
This month we'll have representatives from two properties give presentations to the board. As a member of the committee whose purpose was to see the development and construction of the library through (and that President Judge recently disbanded without notice or cause), I'm paying very close attention to these presentations and the ensuing discussions. As is par for Louisiana, there have been lots of backroom negotiations and dealings which have gone on with regards to the properties chosen, even while the committee still met, so I honestly have no idea what to expect here. More questions than answers, but I'm expecting lots of misdirection.
My comments will almost certainly be focused on asking the board to see that the library is built in a location that is most convenient to the community and where the community desires. I will also be reminding them that the money has already been set aside for the library's construction and operation (at least one board member, Stephanie Armbruster, is set against construction because she claims there is no money).
Finally, I will be asking the board to reinstate the NE Exploratory Committee. This committee was formed to oversee the various steps in guiding the library through the RFP & construction process, as well as keeping the community informed about the progress being made. However, Mr. Judge dissolved the committee without informing its members. He did this, in public, at the end of the June meeting. He did it so quickly and quietly that even the library Director, who serves as the meeting Secretary, didn't hear him, and so it doesn't appear in the official minutes. We only know it was dissolved because eyewitnesses who stayed after the closing prayer reported it back to us. I feel strongly that this committee should be reinstated to finish the job it was given - which, I might add, is how long the bylaws state that committees should continue.
Item VIII - Comments from the public on any other matter not on the agenda
It's important to note here that the board has NOT dropped Cara's case. Robert Judge has not acknowledged that he was wrong. The fact that Cara doesn't appear on the August agenda doesn't mean her fight is over - far from it. In fact, it could mean something far more sinister.
Since tabling an item in a meeting simply indicates that it will be taken up by the board at a later time, in theory the board could take up Cara's employment status at any time in the future. Robert Judge could simply wait a few months until Cara's medical leave is over and the media attention has died down, and then place the item on the agenda again. Without a clear motion from a board member sending Cara's employment firmly back into the hands of the Director, there is nothing stopping him from doing so.
In light of that, I plan to use my time to speak for Cara, and to mention all of these points.
IX - Announcements
Normally this is just reminders about sexual harassment training and the next meeting date, but the lack of detail here makes me think Mr. Judge has got a surprise waiting. There are a few possibilities I can think of.
This could be an announcement about Cara - maybe an end to the attempt at firing her? Maybe an announcement that Robert Judge has decided on his own that she's fired. Who knows with that guy. (that last bit was (mostly) kidding)
This could be an announcement of the committee to rewrite our library's mission statement, attempted last year by Mr. Judge but tabled by the board at that time. It was kept off the agenda by then-President Doug Palombo, but with Judge now President, he's been itching to take out those pesky words like "free," "equal," "cultural" and "diverse." Earlier this year he announced that he would be forming a committee to accomplish this goal, and this might be something related to that.
Some other, unrelated announcement - a dramatic resignation, perhaps?
Nothing special at all - just the usual announcements left off the agenda deliberately to confuse the public and leave everyone speculating. This is a game Mr. Judge plays every month called, "How to be a terrible public servant." It's where you keep everyone in the dark as long as possible so that members of the public have as little time and information as possible to prepare for the meetings. That way everyone shows up already annoyed and confused. See? Already fun.
Anyway, that's what I have for now - I'll be adding to this guide as new information comes in before Monday evening. I hope to see a lot of you in attendance, but remember, you can always call or email instead!
August's Censorship News
Supporters of threatened Lafayette librarian speak up at Parish Council meeting (KLFY)
Northeast Lafayette Library talks spark questions about removing library board president (Advocate)
Can appointed Lafayette Library Board members be removed? Council asking amid controversies (Advertiser)
A Librarian is Being Threatened for Creating LGBTQ Book Displays (Vice Motherboard)
Conservative Christian groups are targeting Louisiana libraries (NPR)