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Councilors demand to know: Why was BPL president getting bonuses when workers were foregoing raises to save libraries?

Steve Murphy

The City Council today approved a hearing on BPL finances to rein in what at-large City Councilor Steve Murphy called an apparent "shadow government" overseeing Boston libraries

Murphy and Councilor Bill Linehan (South Boston, South End, Chinatown) requested the hearing after Murphy read that BPL President Amy Ryan was routinely getting $20,000 bonuses atop her six-figure salary - even back in 2010, when Mayor Menino proposed shutting several branch libraries and BPL workers agreed to give up raises to help balance library books.

Murphy said the council, which must approve city spending, never approved bonuses and rejected arguments by library officials that Ryan deserved them. "Who elected you, Mr. Library Chair?" he asked. "They're not General Motors and they're not Wall Street."

Linehan said he could not understand why Ryan was getting the bonuses even at the height of a 2010 library budget crisis, during which Mayor Menino was looking to close several branches and librarians were agreeing to forego negotiated raises to try to help keep the libraries open.

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Councilor Steve Murphy seems to be getting at some raw issues. Hope there will be some results. Seems doubtful, though.

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Murph will wear his Lone Ranger outfit. If that doesn't bring out the horses and their manure I don't know what will.

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https://twitter.com/GlobeAndrewRyan/with_replies
Andrew Ryan @GlobeAndrewRyan · 1d1 day ago
#bospoli City Councilors briefly adjourn weekly meeting to discuss issue out of earshot of public.Open meeting law?

Andrew Ryan @GlobeAndrewRyan · 24h24 hours ago
City Council adjourns again to discuss issue out of public earshot. Right in front of audience. Open meeting law? #bospoli

Andrew Ryan @GlobeAndrewRyan · 24h24 hours ago
City Council going into closed-door executive session for an administrative issue, per Council Prez Linehan #bospoli

Andrew Ryan Verified account ‏@GlobeAndrewRyan 23h23 hours ago
City Council back after rare executive session...

Sunshine Open Public Meeting Review
http://www.mass.gov/ago/government-resources/open-meeting-law/oml-faqs/o...

Public Body Checklist for Entering Into Executive Session
Issued by the Attorney General’s Division of Open Government – March 12, 2013
http://mass.gov/ago/docs/government/oml/public-body-checklist-executive-...

Executive session listed as a topic for discussion on meeting notice, including as much detail about the purpose for the executive session as possible without compromising the purpose for which it is called. See G.L. c. 30A, § 20(b); 940 CMR 29.03(1)(b).

□ Public body convened in open session first. G.L. c. 30A, § 21(b)(1).

□ Chair publicly announced the purpose for executive session, citing one or more of the 10 purposes found at G.L. c. 30A, § 21(a).

□ Chair stated all subjects that may be revealed without compromising the purpose for which the executive session was called. G.L. c. 30A, § 21(b)(3). For example, the Chair identified the party a public body may be negotiating with or the litigation matter the public body will be discussing.

□ Chair stated whether the public body will adjourn from the executive session, or will reconvene in open session after the executive session. G.L. c. 30A, § 21(b)(4).

□ For Executive Session Purposes 3, 6, and 8:
o Chair publicly stated the having the discussion in open session would have a detrimental effect on the public body’s negotiating position, bargaining position, litigating position, or ability to obtain qualified applicants. G.L. c. 30A, §§ 21(a)(3), (6), (8).

□ A majority of members of the body voted by roll-call to enter into executive session. G.L. c. 30A, § 21(b)(2).

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the City Council didn't bother to carefully review the city budgets they were approving.

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City of Boston's Data

With your help, we hope to make this portal the de facto place for Boston’s municipal data. We’d love to hear from you! Please take a moment to provide constructive feedback on the site. Please send comments to
OpenGov at cityofboston.gov
https://data.cityofboston.gov/Finance/Employee-Earnings-Report-2013/54s2...

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That is really, cool, but also creepy that I could look up any employee's salary...

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Public employees' salaries are public information are routinely published.

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Okay, the Herald randomly decided to call out this bonus - so what? I'm not interested in the council claiming moral high ground. Although Menino okayed the bonus, it's not in his budget (unless it is hidden somewhere), which seems to be a problem. The Board of Trustees are empowered to "fix ... compensation" per the Board's Act of Incorporation but only "provided, that the amount thus paid shall not exceed the sum appropriated by the city council for that item of expense." The FY'11 budget (page 132) sets her salary at $175,481, so the bonus that the Herald has found (here's their website) is in violation of their Act of Incorporation. Does this mean the Trustees did not fulfill their fiduciary duty?

Anyway, the real shocker is the 2010 payroll report from the Herald. It shows that her salary was $172,255 with $41,307 in bonuses for total compensation of $213,562. I don't know what period this covers - is it all of her projected 2010 salary? (the Herald says its the payroll report through Feb. 2010).

It would be nice if the Globe or someone would pick this up and give us some idea of what the implications are.

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be nice if someone investigated the library at all levels. The union has a stranglehold Promotions and jobs are all based on seniority - how long have you been there?? the central branches are filled with people who do nothing all day, but can't be fired. People getting promotions who can't do the job, but they've been there long enough that the job is theirs...

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As someone just finishing my MLIS, I can't stress this enough. Jobs within the BPL are awarded solely based on the length of time you have been in the system-man jobs are not even posted on the public website. There are so many stale, uninformed librarians clogging the system (and working as branch managers) while an equal number of young, technology-savvy librarians waiting to (but can't) get their foot in the door. People wonder if libraries can keep up with what the future has in store. I say they can, but only if these outrageous and old fashioned managerial policies are kicked to the curb.

We, the young librarians, have ideas! and energy! LET US IN.

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We, the young librarians, have ideas! and energy!

That's your problem right there. Libraries (not just the BPL) don't want new ideas. They don't want energy. They don't want young kids on their lawn disrupting the way they've always done things.

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We have teaching hospitals, we could have teaching libraries. Simmons College graduate professional training programs for librarians are out of date, expensive, lacking in good financial assistance and taught didactically instead with the case method of instruction. Professional education programs in Boston Public Library with credit could be made available in the spirit of a teaching library.It could be done in cooperation with Information/Library Science programs at University at Albany http://www.albany.edu/cci/

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Could you be more specific? I'm curious to know which ideas are being rebuffed by older librarians. Not being snarky.

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We, the young librarians, have ideas! and energy! LET US IN.

Stop with the generalizations please. Youth does not always equal energy. I cannot tell you how many millennials we have had to let go at my firm because they sit there like bumps on a log waiting for exact step by step instructions. But we have had a few great staff who have enthusiasm and energy--in their 20s and 50s. Age should not be the deciding factor... ideas and energy, yes.

I am not sure which branch 'your' branch is but my branch has a great staff who are helpful and tech saavy. They also have to put up with a lot--let me tell you its upsetting to glance over at the computer and see the homeless guy watching porn with his hand down his pants. The staff have to go over and ask him to stop. THAT deserves a raise, cuz ew.

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You're right---youth doesn't always equal energy, I was saying that there are young(er) librarians who do have energy and are willing to effect positive change in public libraries if given the opportunity.

There are absolutely great branch libraries...and there are not so great branch libraries. I don't think its fair or right that certain branches are given more resources than others. The system is only as strong as its weakest link (and I believe the same rule should apply to BPS and all public services).

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I worked at the main library for quite a few years. I knew a little deadweight but no more than in any other business I've worked in. The union cannot protect anyone not fulfilling his/her job, showing up late or leaving early, et cetera, as long as the violations are documented. I know; I was a rep. Some older workers were cut slack when they were a year or two out from retirement, but the push to reduce payroll meant no one else was safe from review.

So, specifically, who do you think is not doing their job? If you work at the BPL and have seen that someone is shirking, have you addressed it with that person or have you complained up the chain of command? If you are a patron who is present enough to observe an employee to such a degree that you know what his job is and that he's not doing it, have you complained to the upper staff?

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LibraryLady said "stale, uninformed" which doesn't necessarily mean "not fulfilling his/her job, showing up late or leaving early."

It's like any other profession, new workers can bring fresh skills and ideas. It doesn't mean the long-timers aren't valuable but locking out newcomers isn't in the best interest of the library or the public.

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Its not a matter of simply fulfilling your job description (and doing the bare minimum). Its a matter of staying informed, motivated, and constantly doing more for your community. You are working in public service, if it isn't something that interests you anymore, then step aside.

My issue isn't so much with the central branch librarians. Our neighborhood branch (which will remain nameless because I would one day like to work for the BPL system) has three librarians who are all doing the bare minimum and our community suffers for it. The Branch manager can barely use a computer (and had not even heard of the trend of maker-space libraries. Its one thing to be against it but another to not be aware of the trend), the children's librarian has been described as scary and unfriendly by our patrons, and the other professional librarian on staff just sits at the reference desk watching the clock until she can go home. I'm part of the Friends for this branch and we have complained, but, its is useless. No one is going to do anything about it until they retire....and then they will probably just transfer people from within.

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As soon as I saw the word makerspace, I thought "Kendall Square." I'm definitely not hip to the new library trends but I think of software when I think of makerspace (or hackerspace, if you prefer), not a local BPL branch.

My advice is: Go North, young woman! Go forth unto MIT!

Edited because the BPS is not the BPL.

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Is there anyway regular citizens can help push more linkages between BPL and BPS, or BPS and librarians? Speaking totally selfishly as a parent, we love our kid's BPS but the funding was cut for a librarian some years back and its now entirely parent run. Aside from bringing it up to every politician I run into what else can we do? Technology in the classroom is fine, but what about the improved literacy, community and research building skills you get with a *librarian* ?

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For a second, I thought you were talking about BPS employees, including teachers.

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is outraged that somebody who has the apparent power to grant themselves a higher salary does so.

Doesn't the council, of all people, know how hard it is out there when you're only making 175% of the city's median income? (numbers may not be exact because frankly I don't care enough to actually calculate them)

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a) Full Transcript of Captions for hard of hearing, deaf and ESL English as a Second Language folks from the Webcast of today's Public Meeting of Boston City Council and b) the Stenograph Record can be requested at
http://www.cityofboston.gov/contact/?id=12

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Where CEO's and their pals get bonuses while profits drop, employees forego raises or are laid off (or both). Don't forget, folks, the wealthiest Americans are heroes!

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Better yet, look at the zip codes associated with the high earners (total income). Those are not City of Boston zip codes.

It's all who you know.

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I just want to throw in that my local branch BPL librarian seems to work hard and really care about her branch, her customers, and the neighborhood. I'm not there often, and can't swear to the entire team, but when I need something she's very responsive, and I've heard the same from your parents, senior citizens, and community groups alike.

I won't say her name, but the branch initials are SE

That's all...

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