Queens Library Fires Back At PR Reports

BY NATALIA KOZIKOWSKA
Staff Writer

Last week, the media alleged that Queens Library’s Board of Trustees voted to spend $30,000 in taxpayer dollars to boost its public image in the weeks following the scandal revolving around CEO Thomas Galante and his six-figure salary. And now, Queens Library is firing back.

According to Joanne King, a spokesperson for the Library, the nonprofit had indeed hired an outside public relations firm, but the firm was hired to ‘promote services,’ such as library programs.

King also denied claims that the $30,000 to pay the firm came from taxpayer money.

“The Queens Library, like many nonprofit organizations, utilizes communications firms to promote our programs and services to benefit the community. It is not unusual and is part of our long standing communications strategy,” she wrote in an emailed statement.  “The conversation last week was a continuation of a discussion from the fall with the Board to support the rollout of our strategic plan for 2014 goals and initiatives.”

Galante has been under fire by media outlets and elected officials alike for his $391,994 annual salary and $140,000 in office renovations– perks he referred to as “average” compensation in the nonprofit world last month.
Allegations that taxpayer money was used to fund Galante’s six-figure salary and lavish office upgrades, which includes a private outdoor smoking area, prompted the City Council to hold an oversight hearing and City Comptroller Scott Stringer to launch an audit of all three library systems.

Last week, news surfaced that Galante and the library’s construction management consultant, Frank Marino, have also been served subpoenas prompting a federal investigation.

Marino’s firm, Advanced Consulting Corp. in Merrick, has managed 15 Queens Library improvement projects since 2008.

In light of the scandal, Queens Library has been informed that it will pay all legal fees for Galante’s federal and City investigations.

Reach Natalia Kozikowska at (718) 357-7400 Ext. 123 or nkozikowska@queenspress.com or @nkozikowska.