Library trustee Booker targeted
Commissioner Les Hampton makes motion for removal
During a special meeting Thursday, Moffat County Commissioner Les Hampton made a motion to remove Linda Booker from the Moffat County Library Board of Trustees.
No items about Booker or the library were posted on the agenda. The only item on the special meeting’s agenda was the signing of a lease for a van to transport inmates of the Moffat County Jail.
State statute requires counties to post all agenda items at least 24 hours before the meeting.
No media representatives were present at the meeting, but the discussion was recorded. Hampton introduced the business by telling Commissioner Darryl Steele, the only other commissioner present, that a “most disturbing letter” had been hand-delivered to him by a library board member.
“It is very clear from this letter that we have at least one member that doesn’t have the best interest of Moffat County in mind,” Hampton said. He then motioned to remove Booker from the board.
Steele seconded the motion but stipulated that he was doing so for the sake of discussion. He asked to table the discussion so he would have more time to consider Hampton’s motion and until Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos could be present.
They planned to send a letter to Booker and schedule the business as an item on the agenda for today’s meeting. But that item isn’t listed on the agenda, and Hampton said it is tabled.
Booker did not find out about the meeting until late Monday afternoon, and then it was “by accident,” she said. Other than calling Hampton’s actions “ludicrous” and “vicious,” she declined to comment.
Booker was active in an unsuccessful effort to recall Hampton as commissioner. Her term on the library board runs through 2005.
Library board member John Ponikvar wrote the letter Hampton cited during the meeting. The letter is addressed to Booker and copied to the other library board members. It was not attached to the meeting’s minutes, though Chief Deputy Clerk Lila Herod, who was keeping minutes, twice asked for a copy. The Daily Press obtained a copy through a Colorado Open Records Act request.
In the letter, Ponikvar criticizes some of Booker’s actions and encourages her to work within the library board.
“At the last Moffat County Library Board of Trustees meeting on 11-15-2004, you confirmed what I already knew, that you and (library Director) Donna Watkins have been canvassing the community together, encouraging people to attend the board meetings in an effort to intimidate and coerce the board, and also as you state, the county commissioners, in efforts against the director evaluation and consultant on employee turnover,” Ponikvar wrote.
Twenty-four people attended that library board meeting. Points of contention between the commissioners and some board members include creating an evaluation process for Watkins, who in six years as director had never been evaluated before last month, and hiring a consultant to study alleged employee turnover problems at the library.
“I hope you will stop playing games and join me in working within the board to make the Moffat County Libraries the envy of all rural communities in Colorado,” Ponikvar wrote.
Ponikvar said he had hoped to resolve the problem within the board, and he never intended for the commissioners to receive the letter.
“I talked to a couple commissioners and said this wasn’t your business,” Ponikvar said.
Ponikvar said he didn’t want the commissioners to take action on the letter.
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