Montalvo's library status in limbo

2010-11-29T00:00:00Z 2010-11-29T00:54:41Z Montalvo's library status in limboBy Steve Zabroski Times Correspondent
November 29, 2010 12:00 am  • 

EAST CHICAGO | The status of Library Director Manuel Montalvo and legal representation for the city library system will remain in limbo for at least another month due to the lack of a library board quorum last week.

The Board of Trustees called a special meeting on Wednesday to discuss Montalvo's position, contracts for legal services and proposed 2011 salaries for library staff, but only three of seven board members attended.

Local pressure for the ouster of Montalvo, an ally of former Mayor George Pabey, and also Lake County Democratic Party secretary, has increased since Pabey's September conviction on federal felony corruption charges and Montalvo's misdemeanor convictions the same month on battery, disorderly conduct and criminal trespass charges in Illinois.

Montalvo is also a defendant in a federal civil rights lawsuit over the April firing of at-large City Councilwoman Myrna Maldonado from her job as associate director of youth services at the library, allegedly for council votes contrary to the wishes of Pabey.

He is a former library board president, who has served as library director since 2007.

Former city Corporation Counsel Carmen Fernandez, a relative of Pabey's, was hired by the Library Board in February for legal services, but never has had a contract signed by the board.

Gary attorney Jewell Harris Jr., counsel to the city's Human Resources Department, also has supplied legal services to the board since this summer, but he, too, has been working without a contract.

"We paid (Harris) $3,000 last month," said Library Board President Clifton Johnson, a School Board member and administrative assistant with the city's legal department. "He needs a contract."

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