Board tables library hearing

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Linda Booker won't be removed from the Moffat County Library Board of Trustees, at least not Tuesday.

Moffat County Commissioner Les Hampton has withdrawn from Tuesday's agenda a hearing to remove Booker from the library board.

"It is with regret that I am asking the Board of County Commissioners to table the agenda item," Hampton wrote in a letter dated Dec. 16 to his fellow commissioners and Booker.

"Of late, I have given much thought to these issues, and today I have arrived at the conclusion that the BOCC should defer on this issue until the results of the proposed neutral party investigation are concluded."

The investigation Hampton referred to is a study of employee and board member turnover at the library. The library board is expected to ratify a contract for the study at its meeting Monday.

The library board has contracted Public Service Personnel to conduct the study. By the time it is complete, Hampton's term as commissioner should be finished, and Commissioner-elect Tom Gray will have replaced him.

Booker said the commissioners made the right decision by tabling the issue.

"I'm really glad the commissioners are being sensible in this situation, because I think it's very damaging for the community," Booker said.

In Colorado, commissioners only can remove a trustee from the library board if the member has broken its board's bylaws or if the commissioners have due cause. State statute does not define due cause.

Booker said she hasn't broken any of the board's bylaws.

Earlier this year, Booker participated in an unsuccessful effort to recall Hampton and Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos. Booker's term on the library board finishes at the end of 2006.

Hampton raised the issue of removing Booker from the library board during an emergency meeting earlier this month. He said that she was not serving on the board with the best interests of Moffat County in mind.

Hampton elaborated on those charges in a letter he wrote Booker before he canceled the removal hearing.

Hampton charged that twice in 2002, when Booker was a member of the library board personnel committee, she dismissed concerns employees had regarding the library. One complaint stated that employees didn't feel comfortable talking to the personnel committee because its members were too close to library Director Donna Watkins.

In 2003, Hampton wrote, Booker reported to the Daily Press that the commissioners were holding an illegal meeting. Watkins informed Booker of the meeting.

Lastly, Hampton charged that Booker orchestrated a group in an effort to influence the library board and the commissioners.

"Your behavior and conduct is not consistent with one who is entrusted to manage the affairs of Moffat County," Hampton wrote.

Booker said no one should feel intimidated by people attending a public meeting.

"As a library board member, I can say that we have no reason to feel intimidated by anyone interested enough in their library to attend board meetings," Booker wrote in a letter to the Daily Press.

Before the commissioners tabled the issue, Booker said she would not attend the hearing.

"I know from BOCC meetings I have attended in the past few years, my fate will not depend on whether or not I attend the Dec. 21 BOCC meeting. The decision has already been made behind closed doors and the discussion that day will be perfunctory. I'm sure my public humiliation would be a bonus to them, if I chose to attend," Booker wrote.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or rgebhart@craigdailypress.com.

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