Two more Farmington Community Library board members have resigned following the controversial replacement of long-time trustee Bruce Lazar.
In public comment during Monday’s Farmington Hills City Council meeting, Hills resident and library board member Camilla Liebold submitted her resignation and library Director Elyse Streit read a resignation letter from Farmington resident Suzanne Paul, delivered earlier in the day.
Liebold said the library board has become “toxic” and noted “significant impact” on staff morale. She cited disrespect shown to Lazar and lack of transparency in appointing his replacement among her reasons for resigning.
“Our debates were civil and respectful,” she said. “The trustee appointed in January has an approach that is confrontational.”
“The mayor’s approach to this appointment was the very antithesis of transparency,” she added.
Liebold also noted that recent Farmington Hills library board appointments have been white men, despite the community’s diversity. Lazar’s replacement Bill Largent is Native American; two more recent appointees are both white and male.
The board overseeing the district library, which serves Farmington Hills and Farmington, has eight members, four from each city. Other than appointments, city officials have no control over the library or its board’s operations.
Council members unanimously appointed Largent to replace Lazar, who had requested reappointment. Under the city charter, the mayor recommends board and commission candidates, who are then approved by the full council.
Hills council members Theresa Rich and Samantha Steckloff have said Massey did not inform the council that Lazar wanted to continue serving. Both have called for more transparency in the appointment process.
Massey said he chose Largent, who has been critical of the library board, because of a conflict over the board’s refusal to provide detailed budget information. The move lead two long-time Farmington Hills library board members, Pam O’Malley and Clark Doughty, to resign.
Following Monday’s meeting, Massey called Liebold’s accusations inaccurate. “The fact that people are dropping off says more about them than me,” he said.
“At the end of the day, I want this board to perform professionally,” Massey added. “I expect that’s what they’re going to do. We’ll get past this.”