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Ciotola packs Library Board with his own recruits

New mayor starts term with closed-door decision

"...nearly all of the residents who were interested submitted their [Library Board of Trustees] applications by the deadline published by the city -- except for the three who were actually appointed, all of whom prepared their applications nearly two months late and within a few days of each other." Click on the newspaper image to see the full story with the chart.

During his effort to censor gay periodicals in the Upper Arlington Public Library in 2005, then UA Council member Tim Rankin said,

"If we have to put people on this [Library] board who reflect the values of the community, we'll do that."

According to a story in the February 4th, 2010 edition of ThisWeek [PDF] [JPG], it would seem that UA's new mayor, Frank Ciotola, has made good on Rankin's threat.

Within a few days of being elected Council President, Ciotola made it one of his first acts to appoint three hand-picked recruits to the Library Board. All 3 appointees:

  • delivered their applications directly to the current Council President, Frank Ciotola, not to the City Clerks Office (source: UA Clerk's Office)
  • submitted applications a month and a half after the posted November 16, 2009 deadline
  • completed their applications within 4 days of each other on Jan 6, 8 and 9th, 2010

Ciotola's appointees to the Library Board of Trustees had a fast track outside the normal process, which typically includes a review of applicants with other Council members.

Ciotola: "I wish the deadline had not been published"

And now Ciotola wants to remove what little transparency remains in the current Library Board appointment process. In the ThisWeek story, Ciotola said he wishes the Library Board application deadline had not been published at all!

The current UA Library Board application deadline provides a window of time for members of Council, the public and the media to see the Library Board applications before any appointments are made. This provides time for public review and is a small yet important oversight step in the appointment process.

Not only should the application deadline remain public, as it has been for many years, but also any extensions of the original deadline should also be announced publicly as well. The Library Board appointment process should strive to be more open and transparent, not less, as Ciotola suggests.

Democrats need not apply

The outpouring of support for the Library was evident this year by the number and quality of the applicants. A noted author of children's books, the Ohio Senate's Finance Director, OSU's Senior VP for Business and Finance, professors, lecturers, teachers, etc.

Voter file records indicate that the pool of on-time applicants was heavily weighted toward Democrats. In fact, twice as many registered Democrats applied for the Library Board by the deadline than Republicans (12 Democrats vs. 6 Republicans vs. 5 Independents) -- and most of the those Republicans are known to be moderates.

Ciotola would have been hard-pressed to find advocates for censoring gay periodicals among this group, which may have led to his recruiting expedition.

Who are the new appointees?

The Library Board applications, the Ohio voter file and a web search turned up these facts about the new Trustees:

  1. Krista Sisterhen is president of the Columbus Stewardship Foundation. She voted in all 4 of the last 4 Republican primaries. Sisterhen listed the evangelical church Xenos on her Library Board application as her community service or civic organization. She served as director of Governor Taft's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and was connected to the 'We Care America' fallout. The details of Strickland's investigation into the matter are compiled here.
  2. Garrett Scanlon is a Partner in Casto Commercial Real Estate. He gave the maximum allowable contribution to the McCain campaign ($2300) and voted in the 3 of the last four Republican primaries.
  3. Mark Shy owns his own business, Renovators, Inc., a construction and renovation business. He is also a registered Republican and spoke out against the against the Library's gay periodical policy.

Voter records show that Frank Ciotola is himself a registered Republican.

The two Trustees who voted against censorship were passed over

Both John Magill and Brian Perera submitted applications for reappointment, both were passed over and both were critical votes in maintaining the Library's openness toward gay periodicals.

In 2005 social conservatives were pressuring the Library to ban the gay periodicals from the Library. Brian Perera came to the Board after the 2005 controversy. Thinking Perera shared a far-right viewpoint on this topic, Bryce Kurfees, a young-earth creationist and intelligent design advocate, pushed for another vote on the matter in 2006. Perera did not go along and publicly made his opinion known. The vote to reconsider the matter failed w/o Perera's vote.

In two years the other 3 Trustees whose terms expire in 2012 could also be replaced en masse.


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