Changes to membership of library board overdue

‘Call the Tune’ by Mike Anthony

By Mike Anthony

One of County Executive Steve Stenger’s key priorities is to make changes to the St. Louis County Library Board of Directors.

We believe that’s great news be-cause changes to the library board are long overdue. The existing library board is unresponsive to the public, yet more than willing to rubber-stamp just about any proposal brought forth by the administration, led by Director Kristen Sorth.

The terms of all the members of the five-member county library board have already expired or will expire in the coming months.

Terms held by President Lynn Beck-with of Florissant, who is also the president of the Riverview Gardens Board of Education, and Stephen Sachs of Ladue, the newest board member, both expire in June.

The terms of Secretary Chingling Tai of Creve Coeur, Vice President Edith Cunnane of Creve Coeur and Treasurer Elena Garcia Kenyon of Hazelwood expired in June 2012, June 2013 and June 2014, respectively.

The entire board was appointed by former County Executive Charlie Dooley, who didn’t appear to care whether the board was responsive to the public. Quite frankly, that lack of responsiveness has empowered Sorth and members of her administration, including Communications Manager Jennifer McBride, to make it as difficult as possible for residents and the press to obtain public information about the district.

Perhaps Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors Secretary Ed Ryan put it best when he said that trying to obtain information from library officials is “like pulling teeth.” As readers may recall, Ryan was among local elected officials who opposed the move of the Tesson Ferry Library to Gravois and Musick.

And, as we’ve noted before, the irony’s not lost on us that for people in the information business, library officials aren’t very forthcoming with public information. If you don’t believe us, just visit the library board’s BoardDocs Pro website before a board meeting and try to find any documentation of what the board will consider. Good luck, because there is nothing to be found.

It’s our sincere hope that new members of the library board will strive to be more responsive, transparent and accountable than current members.

We also hope the new board members will hold the administration’s feet to the fire when it comes to transparency or hire new administrators who believe in open government.