New Light Shed on Parlingate Library Controversy
By Josh Resnek
The Mayor, who has been quoted as saying he never saw a library he wanted to enter during four years at college, has come to take a commanding interest in the management, or mismanagement, of the city’s library system.
The system is utterly demoralized by the administrative changes ordered by the mayor that have been made in recent months, according to sources.
The facts of the matter have come to light about why Parlin Library officials stopped sending old city photographs and descriptions to the Leader Herald after we had been publishing the popular series for longer than a year.
In this dispute alone the seeds of the changes the library has undergone were planted.
It was the mayor’s doing entirely, the remaking of how the library system is run and the placement of a city lawyer without library experience or library training to run the system, according to sources who spoke with the Leader Herald.
When former Parlin Librarian Stacey Debole was being badgered into retiring by the mayor and his enforcers before the summer, she was charged by Tom Philbin, the mayor’s chief communications flack, Lara Webhe, the head of Human Resources, and City Solicitor Colleen Mejia with violating city policy by sending those vintage photographs directly to the Leader Herald, according to a source who detailed the facts about the incident who wished to remain unnamed.
City of Everett policy required all media matters be placed through the City of Everett Communications office.
Mejia, according to the source, went on to say that because the library violated city policy and offered that feature to only one paper, the library could be viewed unfavorably.
The Leader Herald was the only newspaper in the city who wished to publish such photographs and editorial comment identifying old faces of those no longer with us or nostalgic views of the city, et cetera. The others were free to publish the same, but didn’t.
We did and it was a popular feature.
We had no idea at the time that publishing such old photographs of Everett and its people could endanger the administration of the public library system, or lead to the retirement of its distinguished librarian – but it did.
Mrs. Debole consulted with the Library Board of Trustees (also about to become extinct) and with the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (of which she is now a member).
They agreed that if the city policy required all press to go through the Mayor’s office, the library needed to comply.
The library complied, according to the source.
“But Stacy did tell Tom Philbin if it was not offered to the Leader Herald and was offered to other papers, she was going to send it to the Leader Herald directly”.
Philbin assured Deboles that it would be sent to all three papers.
It was sent to the others but not to the Leader Herald.
This was the beginning of the end for Mrs. Deboles, who refused to be interviewed for this piece.
This was when things heated up with the Mayor insisting the library system had to be his and that Mrs. Deboles needed to go.
There was also the matter, as reported in the Leader Herald, of a convicted felon being hired to work for the library system.
According to the source, Mrs. Deboles was dead set against this, not just because the new hire was a convicted felon, but because she has no library experience.
In the end, the mayor got what he wanted.
Mrs. Deboles, it appears, stood her ground making a plea for free access and a properly trained workforce.
In the end, she had no choice.
In the end, she retired, leaving the library without a trained chief librarian.
The acting librarian is assistant city solicitor Matt Lattanzi.