Former E.C. library officials sue over ousters

2011-03-29T20:00:00Z 2011-04-26T14:00:19Z Former E.C. library officials sue over oustersBy Steve Zabroski Times Correspondent
March 29, 2011 8:00 pm  • 

EAST CHICAGO | The former director of the East Chicago Public Library and a former library trustee filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to get their positions back.

The suit, on behalf of Manuel "Manny" Montalvo and former Library Board member Ricardo Garcia, asks the Lake Circuit Court for a preliminary injunction to freeze actions taken earlier this month by the Library Board.

Named as defendants are the city of East Chicago, the East Chicago Public Library, the Library Board, the School City of East Chicago board, Mayor Anthony Copeland, City Attorney Carla Morgan, Police Chief Augusto "Gus" Flores, Sgt. Louis Arcuri and Library Director Charles Moore.

On March 9, Copeland replaced Garcia, the sole mayoral appointment to the seven-member body, and a week later, the Library Board voted to fire Montalvo, who had served as library director since 2006.

The two are represented in the legal action by former city Corporation Counsel Carmen Fernandez, whose contract as legal adviser to the Library Board was voided along with that of Montalvo on March 16.

No hearing date had been set Tuesday, but court administrators said an assignment could be made as early as Wednesday.

The suit hinges on alleged procedural irregularities in two appointments this year by the School Board and one by the mayor, and it seeks to nullify actions taken by the Library Board this month, including the termination of Montalvo and board attorneys Fernandez and Roy Dominguez.

Three library trustees are appointed to four-year terms by the School Board. And the mayor, City Council, Lake County Board of Commissioners and Lake County Council each appoint one member.

State regulators this month ordered Library Board members to personally repay money spent by the library on health, dental, vision and life insurance premiums for trustees and their families, calling the practice illegal.

Montalvo is expected to be in Lake Superior Court on Wednesday to answer a temporary restraining order sought by Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller to freeze all of Montalvo's assets pending an assessment of his potential debts to the library.

A recent State Board of Accounts audit suggested Montalvo wrongly collected more than $15,000 from the library in travel, lodging, food and vehicle costs through trips for which the state auditing agency said there was no legitimate library business.

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