A Special Meeting of the Eisenhower Public Library District Board of Trustees May 26, 2016
CALL TO ORDER
President Braun called the meeting to order at 7:30 P.M.
Present: Braun, Magnelli, Ringelstein, Sticha.
Absent: Magnuson, Ross, Rothbart.
Also Present: Wittmann, Bacarella, T. Melody, Tomzik, McPhillips, Sciaccotta, Lewis (7:33 P.M.), R. Rehberger, M. Palermo.
RECOGNITION OF VISITORS
Robert Rehberger made a statement to the Board regarding his appeal. Circulation Services Manager Peggy Tomzik made a statement to the Board regarding Mr. Rehberger’s appeal. Tomzik feels the Board should uphold Mr. Rehberger’s ban. Director Wittmann read a statement from an anonymous staff member regarding Mr. Rehberger’s appeal. The anonymous staff member also feels that Mr. Rehberger’s ban should be upheld.
APPOINTMENT OF SECRETARY PRO TEM
President Braun appointed Trustee Ringelstein to act at Secretary Pro Tem in absence of Trustee Magnuson. Trustee Magnelli, seconded by Trustee Sticha, TO APPOINT TRUSTEE RINGELSTEIN AS SECRETARY PRO TEM IN ABSENCE OF TRUSTEE MAGNUSON. A voice vote was taken and the motion carried.
Consider Appeal of Robert Rehberger—
Director Wittmann made a statement regarding Mr. Rehberger’s appeal. Director Wittmann feels the Board should uphold Mr. Rehberger’s ban from the library. Mr. Rehberger used actual names of employees in plays he wrote and the portrayal of those employees could really hurt them. As a former security employee at the library, Mr. Rehberger should have known that leaving a card promoting his book was a violation of the Library’s solicitation policy. Marketing his book in the library was considered intimidation and harassment due to the nature of the book and plays that were written. Trustee Braun brought up the nepotism charge that was made by Mr. Rehberger. He thinks the charge is unfounded. Trustee Braun advised that the Board makes the final decisions in this library which supersedes the Director. Trustee Braun stated that he feels Mr. Rehberger solicited his book to harass and intimidate staff. Trustee Braun recommends Mr. Rehberger lose all privileges to the Eisenhower Public Library. Mr. Rehberger responded to Trustee Braun’s statement. He advised that his writings are a form of art and they were meant to be satirical. Mr. Rehberger advised that he has left his card at other libraries and book stores. He advised that he loves writing and that his book is completely fiction and made up. He noted that introduction of each book explains the theme of the book. Director Wittmann advised that in one of the plays written by Mr. Rehberger she was named in the play and what he wrote about her in a situation with a current employee has made her very uncomfortable. Mr. Rehberger reiterated that his plays were all fiction. He also stated that he did not know why he received a notice from the Harwood Heights police regarding the banning. Security and Maintenance Manager Anthony Sciaccotta advised that he did not go to the police, they came to the Library. Director Wittmann advised that she did not go to the police either. The library only gave the police a copy of the letter banning Mr. Rehberger. Attorney Melody advised Mr. Rehberger that the police have nothing to do with the library banning him. The police were just notified of the ban by the Library because if he violates the ban they would be contacted. Attorney Melody advised that the solicitation of the book impacts the staff because the nature of the books could be considered harassing and intimidating. Trustee Ringelstein noted to Mr. Rehberger that he violated the library solicitation policy and that is why he was banned. Mr. Rehberger was also asked why he did not change the employee names in his plays. He responded that he never got around to doing that and that he liked the names. Trustee Magnelli stated that his daughter is afraid of Mr. Rehberger and feels intimidated by him when he comes to the library. He asked Mr. Rehberger if he contacted her two years ago and he advised that he sent her a text wishing her a happy birthday. Trustee Magnelli advised that he did go to the police with his daughter. He advised that she may get an order of protection. Director Wittmann stated that Mr. Rehberger has the right to write a book, but to market his works to staff who are portrayed in such a negative light constituted intimidation and harassment. She also stated that if the book did not cost $200 she would have purchased it and added it to the Library’s collection. Her issue is with the marketing of his work to staff members who are portrayed in extremely negative ways in those works. Mr. Rehberger was asked why he his book cost $200 and he advised that he increased the cost on Amazon because he knew the police and our attorney would be interested and they would buy it. Mr. Rehberger advised that he never meant any harm to anyone by his writings.
Trustee Sticha, seconded by Trustee Magnelli, TO RECOMMEND A LIFE TIME BAN OF ROBERT REHBERGER FROM THE EISENHOWER PUBLIC LIBRARY DISTRICT. A roll call vote was taken and the results were as Follows: AYES: Braun, Sticha, Magnelli, Ringelstein. NAYS: None. ABSENT: Magnuson, Rothbart, Ross. Mr. Rehberger left the meeting at 8:40 P.M.
The Board would like Attorney Melody to hold a training session with staff at an in service day. The Board will vote on an in service day at the June Board meeting. Attorney Melody advised that he does a lot of training sessions at businesses.
Trustee Sticha moved, seconded Trustee Ringelstein, THAT THE MEETING BE ADJOURNED. A voice vote was taken and the motion carried. The meeting was adjourned at 8:53 P.M.