Sunday, September 28, 2014

UPDATE: From Celebration to Self-Examination in Less Than 9 Months

Corinne Hill: LJ’s 2014 Librarian of the Year. (Library Journal, 1/7/2014)

Hill’s career has climaxed in Chattanooga, where she has transformed what consultants June Garcia and Susan Kent called the “ugly, irrelevant, and mismanaged” public libraries of Hamilton County, TN, into the new and vibrant CPL. “She has fostered a culture of change and innovation that has affected nearly every aspect of the library,” says an August report in the Chattanooga Times/Free Press.

The executive director was identified in the report for taking unearned leave. Her travel reimbursements were also questioned. But she did not offer, nor was she asked for, her resignation during the meeting. The board agreed to form a special committee to review the library's governance and operations. (9/8/2014)

As reported by the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

Chattanooga Public Library leaders reported to the state for suspected fraud.  (8/28/2014)
City Auditor Stan Sewell’s reports shows that Assistant Library Director Nate Hill and System Administrator Meg Backus were reported to the state comptroller’s office after they took multiple paid speaking and consultant jobs while being paid by the library. When questioned, the audit says, Backus reportedly made false statements to auditors and destroyed relevant documents.

Auditor: Thousands misspent at Chattanooga Public Library as Director, top aides cited in report.  (8/29/2014)
Overlooking the basics. 
Sewell also found that the library lacks substantive travel policies and procedures and that the library’s governing board — formed in 2011 when the library came fully under city control — lacks checks and balances and doesn’t have any bylaws on the books.

Chattanooga Library official resigns, another suspended after audit findings. (9/5/2014)
Paying back the excess.
City Auditor Stan Sewell’s report also found that Corinne Hill kept excess reimbursements for worldwide trips, including extra hotel nights on personal time, but she told the board she has paid back the expenses.

Changes promised at Chattanooga Public Library following critical audit.  (9/6/2014)
Moving on.
Corinne Hill said she will suspend Assistant Director Nate Hill (no relation) and that Systems Administrator Meg Backus will resign at the end of October. City Auditor Stan Sewell's audit report said both employees were reported to the state for possible fraud.
But Corinne Hill told the board she has repaid her own overcharges and cleared her name.
"This happened on my watch and it is time for us to move on, which means I am fully prepared and committed to improving the daily operations of this library," she told the board.

Trips taken by Chattanooga Public Library director, top aides took them across U.S., globe.  (9/28/2014) 
Itemizing travel.
A look at their travels for the last two fiscal years shows that Hill and her two top staffers -- Assistant Director Nate Hill and former systems administrator Meg Backus -- went on at least 25 trips to places such as Seattle, Las Vegas, Miami, Singapore and Denmark for professional development conferences, running a tab of nearly $40,000 to taxpayers.
That's more than double the amount of money the library budgets for travel for all employees -- $8,828 per year, or $17,656 over two years.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Boneheaded or weaselly thievery? The one time I taught a workshop I took vacation for the time away (and did not get paid anyway). I was reimbursed for mileage and the host paid the hotel bill.