Public, Trustees Play “Library Card” Against Cortelli

BY CANDACE RIVERA

The public came out swinging during Thursday night’s New City Library Board Meeting. “You are really making a fool out of this town,” said one New City resident of 19 years.

A hot button issue was the appointment of Christian Cortelli to the library board. A Clarkstown Police Officer, Cortelli was appointed in September after the resignation of Aney Paul.

His election has been met with open hostility from the public and members of the board, most notably by Treasurer Jeffrey Greenberg. Cortelli was repeatedly accused of being an unsuitable candidate due to his alleged lack of a New City Library card.

“Mr. Ninan and the board have no right to re-write history and blame Cortelli’s not having a library card on the library,” said Harry Bloomfeld, a former board president and current member of Friends of New City Library. “Under the library’s bylaws Mr. Cortelli was not eligible to be elected by this board last month and is not eligible to run in December.”

After the public comments ended, discussion of Cortelli’s library card continued. As Greenberg read the most recent edition of the board’s minutes, Cortelli questioned its accuracy, saying that he was misquoted.

Greenberg accused Cortelli of answering “yes” when asked if he owned a New City Library card. Cortelli responded: “No, you asked if I had a library card and I answered yes of course I did. I had one for 30 years.”

This issue of the board’s minutes led to Tom Ninan, vice president, questioning board Secretary Edward Kallen, if he drafted the minutes. Trustee Terri Thal stepped in explaining that the administrative assistant drafts the minutes, and the secretary reviews them, making any changes that seem fit.

The minutes are drafted with the help of a tape recorder, an administrative assistant, and the board secretary, Thal explained.

“If the secretary was solely responsible for taking the minutes he or she would miss a good part of the meeting,” said Thal.

Board President Joseph Reiter expressed his disappointment of the minutes saying, ”This is to my recollection, the fourth meeting at least in which the minutes have been incorrect.” The board voted not to approve the minutes with a 3 to 4 vote.

The board was updated on the nomination of trustees. Chair of the Nomination Committee  Anthony Feliciano said that he will be interviewing two candidates over the weekend.

He also requested a special meeting to be held allowing the Nomination Committee to report their nominations to the board. Applications for trustees will be accepted until Nov.12.

Concerns over Cortelli’s library card was once again expressed by Greenberg, questioning Cortelli’s eligibility to run for re-election in December. Ninan stepped in suggesting that all concerns about certain nominees should be held until the Nomination Committee formally gives their recommendations to the board. “So if I can convince Mr. Jeffrey Greenberg to hold his thoughts until the next meeting, we have a whole week,” said Ninan. The meeting does not have an exact date yet.