Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Former Gulf Beaches Library director sues over termination

MADEIRA BEACH — Jan Horah, the former director of the Gulf Beaches Public Library, has sued the library, arguing she was improperly fired from her job last November.

The library's attorney, Andy Salzman, recently filed a motion to dismiss Horah's lawsuit, claiming that she never had a formal contract with the organization.

Horah's attorney, John Goldsmith, cites the library's official personnel policy that appears to require a series of warnings, verbal and written, before an employee can be fired.

That did not happen in Horah's case.

She was fired on Nov. 3 after the library's board of directors voted unanimously to ask for her resignation. The action came amid building criticism of her management from elected officials in the five towns the library serves — Treasure Island, Madeira Beach, Redington Beach, North Redington Beach and Redington Shores.

Library board chairman Nick Simons, who is also mayor of Redington Beach, told the board at the time that other member town mayors had "lost confidence" in Horah's management of the library.

The strongest criticism against Horah came after her surprise announcement of an extra $302,000 in the library's operating checking account — an amount not previously reported to the board or listed among the library's official reserves.

Treasure Island officials had complained that Horah repeatedly failed to give them financial and membership information during their summer budget workshops. The city first refused to budget its annual $107,000 funding of the library, but later reinstated part of that funding.

Horah, who had served as the library's director since 1999 and earned a $69,436 salary, was also criticized for excessive absences largely due to illnesses and deaths in her family.

Goldsmith said in his complaint that the library "breached" its own policies by firing Horah without first giving her a verbal warning and a written warning.

He also claims that Horah is still the library director, since her firing by the library board did not occur at a meeting with a proper quorum.

"Ms. Horah has been damaged as a result of Gulf Beaches' breach, including loss of income, loss of benefits (including health and pension benefits), out-of-pocket expenses, and other damages," Goldsmith said in his complaint to the Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court.

He is asking for a trial jury and an eventual award of damages, including attorney's fees.

The library also is facing a second threatened lawsuit from Harriet Thompkins, the library's former assistant director and reference librarian who was fired in November when her position was eliminated as a budget-cutting measure.

Craig Berman, Thompkins' attorney, charged possible discrimination in the library's firing of the "top two officials, both of whom happen to be black" and their replacement with "white subordinates."

Former Gulf Beaches Library director sues over termination 01/20/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 9:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Chasing 125: Bucs hope to hit rushing goal more often


    Ever so often, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter pulls back the curtain a bit and shares some of the stats that matter to him most as a coach.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017.
  2. Two Boca Ciega students arrested on charges they brought gun to high school football game


    PINELLAS PARK — Two Boca Ciega High School students were arrested for having a loaded semi-automatic handgun with them at a Friday night football game at Pinellas Park High School.

    Two Boca Ciega High School students were arrested for bringing a weapon on school property on Friday night at a high school football game at Pinellas Park High School.
  3. Bucs-Jaguars was NFL's lowest-rated ESPN game since 2005


    It is just the preseason, and it is the Jaguars, but Thursday night's Bucs-Jags preseason game earned a 1.6 rating on ESPN, which is the lowest-rated preseason game (excluding NFL Network) in 12 years, according to Sports Media Watch.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, left, talks with coach Dirk Koetter during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
  4. Crash at U.S. 19 in Pinellas Park kills one, shuts down traffic


    PINELLAS PARK — A man is dead after a crash between two cars at the intersection of U.S. Highway 19 and 70th Avenue N just after 7 a.m. Saturday.

    Pinellas Park police are investigating the death of a man during a crash on U.S. 19 early Saturday. (Pinellas Park police)
  5. Tropics watch: The latest on Harvey and what systems could hit Florida


    While Eastern and Central America monitor the progress of Tropical Storm Harvey, two tropical disturbances are moving through the Atlantic.