• Editor’s Note: Below is a letter sent to us by attorney representing Altadena Library Director, Mindy Kittay.

      Altadena Public Library (Photo - Facebook, Altadena Library District).

      Altadena Public Library (Photo – Facebook, Altadena Library District).

      Altadena Library Director Mindy Kittay’s attorney today warned the Library District’s governing Board that the emails showing Brown Act violations disclosed last week were “just the tip of the tip of the iceberg.”

      In a 7-page letter (see below) to the Library District Board of Trustees, civil rights attorney Dale Gronemeier demanded the Board “hire an independent investigator to review and publicly report on the extent of Brown Act violations and other misconduct;” if the Library does not hire an independent investigator, he asserted there would be a “coming storm” of “embarrassing email after email dripping out month-by-month because we have to resort to public shaming of the Library leadership in order to address these issues.”

      Gronemeier and his partner Skip Hickambottom last Thursday made a series of 7 presentations to the Library’s Board of Trustees public meeting as it moved through the agenda. They submitted 5 email strings obtained through Public Records Act requests that they contended showed repeated violations of the Brown Act, California’s open-government statute. John McDonald, the President of the Board of Trustees, then resigned the next morning.

      The attorney’s letter today made additional demands to the Trustees – that the Library remove redactions from email strings that suppress information based on attorney-client privilege objections and that Trustees Ira Bershatsky, Armando Zambrano, and Gwendolyn McMullins recuse themselves from the decisions concerning an independent investigation and the email redactions “because they have conflicts-of-interest arising from their culpability in Brown Act violations.” Gronemeier alleged that the redactions in emails obtained through Public Record Act requests were improperly redacted by McDonald because he had a conflict-of-interest and “because of the substantial evidence that the crime-fraud exception to the attorney-client privilege applies.”

      Gronemeier’s letter asserted that the emails already obtained present the Library’s governing board “with a cornucopic can of worms – including but not limited to repeated Brown Act violations, repeated false libelous statements against Ms. Kittay, and repeated direct evidence that the male [Board] majority’s actions against Ms. Kittay are motivated by animus against her because she blew the whistle on the [Board] for its earlier Brown Act violations that the Board was forced to cure.” The earlier Brown Act violations were ones that the Board was required by its attorneys to cure at an October Board meeting.

      Today’s letter indicates the emails that the attorneys presented to the Board last Thursday were obtained over a period of several months by Public Records Act requests. The first request was on January 17 by former Library Trustee Mark Mariscal; his request obtained emails showing violations of the Brown Act during November. Gronemeier on March 8 then made a request for emails that then-President McDonald attempted to “permanently” delete after Mariscal’s request.

      Gronemeier’s letter points out that Microsoft Outlook’s “permanently delete” function does not actually permanently delete emails, so they are retrievable. The email strings in response to the March 8 request showed a Brown Act violation by McDonald, Bershatsky, and Zambrano agreeing in advance of the next Board meeting on who to appoint as Acting Director in a string that McDonald attempted to “permanently” delete. Gronemeier has recently made additional Public Records Act requests for Trustee emails that extend back to the early 2017; those requests includes emails Trustees attempted to “permanently” delete.

      The 7-page letter to the Library District Board of Trustees:

      KittayCorrespondence.040318 toBoard

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      1. Elizabeth says:

        Granted the Library Board has been violating the Brown Act but the Library Director is not blameless. Currently is one lawsuit against the District for wrongful termination and in addition to the current suit there have been EEO complaints filed against Library Administration. I know multiple employees that have left the Library District because of her repeated disrespect and harassment. These people were overwhelmingly persons of color. Her behavior is not fitting of a true leader and an effective Library Board would have worked properly to release her, and make no mistake, she should be released. Just because the Library Board is a mess, doesn’t mean that the Director should be given a pass.

      2. Bridget Brewster says:

        We Altadenan’s are fortunate to have a library that reaches out to the community to invite conversation regarding community needs and desires. This visionary approach is, in large part, due to the committed staff of the library. Under the leadership of its director, Mindy Kittay and her dedicated staff, our library is becoming a hub for dynamic conversation and forward movement for all of us. It has been a great misfortune to have a trio of men on our board of trustees whose sole purpose seems to be to block any ideas put forth by the director. They have deliberately and with force undermined the community vision, propagated lies to misrepresent the director’s work and broken the law on numerous occasions. Our community deserves and needs, not only resignations of these men, but a public apology for their disrespectful treatment of the director and the public they serve.

      3. Leigh Adams says:

        The work Mindy Kittay has done at the Altadena Main Branch has improved our beloved library, increased and improved its programming and created active engagement for every sector of our diverse community. Could more be done? Surely. And Ms Kittay is the one to do it as she has superbly demonstrated in recent cleanups and renovations. The board appears to be functioning at a very low level. Let’s start over and give Ms Kittay the support she deserves.

      4. Paul says:

        The Altadena Library Board is finally getting its just due. The sunlight will clear the air of their criminal misbehavior. The other three board members should resign immediately as well leaving only the new board member who’s only been there a month to begin anew. The Director is the hero in this unfortunate situation as the sunshine reveals.

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