Monday, October 15, 2007

Scribal Meanderings

Well, it's only 11 am on Monday morning, but y'all should know what your scribe has been up to so far.

First, he is still recovering from the AuthorBabe's latest saloon yesterday afternoon, billed as "a proper English tea," which featured pitcherfuls of Pimm's Cup and platterfuls of cucumber sandwiches and scones with whipped cream and strawberries on top. Frank Farricker, candidate for First Selectman, was the featured guest, and came in his cricket whites. He brought his cricket bat along to keep order amongst the assemblage, which, knowing the general tenor of the AuthorBabe's saloons, was probably not a bad idea.

Frank is beginning to tumble to the level of ineptitude and corruption here in Town, but he still has a ways to go, in the scribal opinion. He showed up a week ago at the site of the Byram-Schubert library "construction" project, notable primarily for its singular lack of progress. The neighborhood is disrupted and disgruntled, and the project manager Mario "I'll get back to you" Gonzales (he never does, of course), who among other things is supposed to be the director of the main library, clearly is clueless as to how to manage a building project (let alone a library full of dissension and a long history of criminal behavior among the staff).

The library board, it seems, is totally out of control, or out to lunch, depending on whose viewpoint you listen to. The litany of complaints about Mario's (mis)managment recently led to a secret report by a consultant, which the board is keeping carefully under wraps in defiance of state FOI regulations. The head of the local union was quoted on the radio this morning, with reference to the board: "They sit around the campfire and sing camp songs and toast marshmallows" while appointing Mario to look into the complaints against himself. "It's as though I robbed a bank and told the judge I think I should serve only one day," said the union chief.

But the chips are beginning to fall. Two long-time employees have recently "retired" amidst complaints of arrogant and demeaning behavior (the radio story did not make clear whether the behavior was theirs, but tied the two things together in the same breath). An earlier library board, headed by Don Marchand, tried to fire one of them about ten years ago, but at that time was stymied by the union. This time, it would seem, the union was holding the door open for her so it wouldn't hit her in the butt as she slinked out.

No doubt more is to come, and your scribe will keep you posted. Any comments, Anonymous Bob?

On to more pleasant things. This morning your scribe wandered over to the eastern end of Town, and upon entering the local supermarket was greeted by some crisp apple slices and a container of gooey caramel as the sample tasting of the day. There went the scribal diet. He next visited the scene of the crime, that is, the office of Patriot National Bank that was knocked over a few days ago. This morning there is a sign posted by the door asking customers to remove their sunglasses and hats before entering; however, it seems doubtful that any bank robber worth his salt will want to help make things easier for the surveillance cameras. But if the general public cooperates with the request, it should make it a little less difficult for the staff to spot the would-be heisters.

Your scribe chatted with the branch manager, and allowed as how he had not seen her name in the local rag's account of the incident. With good reason, she told him; as she and everyone else in Town already know, to talk to one of their reporters is tantamount to asking to be libeled in print. "All they do is screw it up," she said. Your scribe could hardly disagree.

Well, the day is still young, but the sun is climbing ever higher in the heavens, and it's time to get downtown and see what else is going on in this burg. More to follow, no doubt.


Blogger Vicki said...

Ah the joys of wandering the town in the morning.

Sounds like you're having a great day. :)

October 15, 2007 4:34 PM  
Blogger Anonymous Bob said...

What the union reps seem to either be unaware of, or are otherwise keeping to themselves (or perhaps slowly learning), is that many (if not most) of the people trying to "bring down" the current Library administration are themselves throwing stones in glass houses. In other words, its a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Whatever this Library Administration's faults may be, they are at least equaled--if not surpassed--by the faults of those pointing fingers and leveling accusations. Heck, one sorry individual has a history of filing grievances against at least two of the previous Directors as well after being repeatedly passed over for promotion (given the particular incompetence and general malaise of said individual, this is not a bad thing).

In the case of the "report", it seems that only disgruntled staff were asked to interviews, not happy, or content or even neutral staff; only those with a bone to pick was sought out. Hardly a fair and balanced approach.

As I'm sure you know, there are always two sides to every story. The Greenwich Rag, of course, has only been reporting one.

Expect fallout.

October 15, 2007 6:15 PM  
Blogger Bill Clark said...

Wow! You have me all agog, Anonymous Bob! What fallout? Tell, tell!

I absolutely agree with you that many of the complainants are undoubtedly grinding their own unworthy axes in at least some if not all of the cases. Incompetence, you say? Don't get me started...

But the mere fact that these individuals are there says much about the comptence (read, lack thereof) of previous boards and administrations. A good workplace, IMO, flows from the top down. And if the top is seriously flawed, expect the rest of the workplace to be flawed as well.

There was a charming quote from Mario in the Local Rag yesterday to the effect that the library staff is "excellent, excellent" and that this whole thing will soon blow over. How a director can call those who are trying to oust him "excellent" smacks of life in a state of denial, as does his expectation that he will survive unscathed. Which one doubts he will...things have gone too far, and his record of incomptence is right up there with some of the other notorious legends of Town mismanagement.

That said, I agree with you that there are a number of very fine individuals working at the library. More than one of them have told me that they have turned down promotions in order to stay in the functions and with the people they enjoy. With one or two well-known exceptions, for example, the circulation staff is a joy to interface with. Their friendliness and competence never cease to amaze me. But once you move above or below the main floor, it's a different story...

Well, I will do my best to keep you and the rest of the Town up to date, and trust you will do the same as well.

"Expect fallout." The shivers are running up and down my spine!

October 16, 2007 9:44 AM  
Blogger Anonymous Bob said...

I definitely agree about the importance of top-down management, and I won't pretend that this administration (or Board) is perfect. But the picture being drawn for us so far in regard to staff & management relations isn't anywhere close to depicting reality.

What we're really talking about here is almost literally a handful of individuals who are going out of their way to make a stink. Are some of their gripes legitimate? Perhaps some, and only to a point. But there has also been a fair amount of misrepresentation by some on the accusing side.

Most staff I know of are fine with the way things have been running. Considering that the Library employs hundreds of people (a mix of full and part-time staff), the nattering nabobs of negativity don't even amount to 10% of the staff. Maybe 5%, if that, in terms of those with real axes to grind. This "report" was compiled with an extreme bias--if you only ask people (and in this case, only "certain" people) about what they think is *wrong* with the administration, then don't expect fair and balanced. An anonymous, multiple-choice & essay pro/con (balanced) questionnaire circulated among the entire staff would have yielded a much more realistic picture of how things are running. The Library is far, far afield from being "run into the ground". What I'm saying is that there are many positives that are being ignored because the people involved have an agenda that the public at large are not being made privy to. Given who some of the nay-sayers are, the Library would fare much worse under their brand of "leadership" than what they are trying to sell to the public at the moment (and I know at least one of them would be vying for that leadership role if the current leadership were let go, and believe me we would ALL be sorry for it).

All I'm saying is, don't believe the hype.

As for the Director's description of the "excellent" staff, well, could be that in referring to the staff in general he is selectively avoiding describing those who are not "excellent". Or, it could be that he is showing a touch of class and restraint that the opposing side has so far failed to demonstrate. Denial would indicate such a deep degree of disconnect from what is going on that I don't think is possible for anyone at the Library at this point, so I'd have to rule that one out.

In regard to the "fallout" I mentioned: karma has a way of coming back to haunt ya. That wheel is rolling already for some of these people. Stay tuned.

October 16, 2007 11:05 PM  
Blogger Bill Clark said...

Thanks for the update, Bob!

All very interesting...I see now what you mean about the "hype" in the Local Rag (which doesn't surprise me in the least, of course). And I certainly agree with you about karma.

My problem is that ever since Nolan Lushington retired, there has been nothing but poor management at the top, IMO. Beth Mainiero's lack of oversight allowed her finance person to embezzle who knows how many tens of thousands from the library - i.e., public funds - just as Mario later allowed Inga Boudreau to run amok. Beth winked at stolen software, flagrant abuse of the library's computer system and private patron records, and drunk and disorderly conduct by staff within the library itself. Mario by his inaction has condoned rude and improper staff behavior towards the public, not to mention the trumped up and very public false arrest of yours truly (see the scribal entry for 7/26/07). I would estimate the legal and settlement costs to the libary and the Town for the mismanagement of these two directors to be well north of $100,000. And that's only for the cases of which I have some personal knowledge.

So, as you can see, I have no sympathy for either of them. They are, IMO, grossly incompetent and quite possibly criminally negligent, in that they have allowed criminal behavior to take place in the library without making any attempts to stop it.

Curiously, I saw Beth Mainiero coming out of the library yesterday. Since she lives in Milford, and hasn't been back in years, one wonders if she's being considered as an interim director if Mario goes.

Well, our perspectives may be somewhat different, but we both agree that karma tends to even things out in the end. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

October 17, 2007 10:12 AM  
Blogger Erica Ridley said...

AuthorBabe's saloon sounds fabulous! (And yummy... mmm)

October 18, 2007 9:39 AM  
Blogger Bill Clark said...

Ah, Erica, fabulous it was indeed! The only thing missing was you! :-)

October 18, 2007 9:49 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home