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Status of East Lake library director occupies new board chairman

PALM HARBOR — The new 2012 chairman of the Palm Harbor Community Services Agency wasted no time Wednesday addressing what has been the thorniest issue for that board in recent months: the status of East Lake Community Library director Patricia Perez.

Rex Haslam brought up the Perez issue almost as soon as he took the chairman's chair.

It was the former chairman of PHCSA, Marguerite Smirlis, who created the controversy when she criticized Perez at the October meeting. Smirlis said that because Perez had not shown PHCSA "the levels of cooperation, cohesion and teamwork'' necessary for the two entities to successfully work together, a reprimand would be put in her personnel file.

PHCSA (pronounced FIXSA) oversees the Palm Harbor Library and Palm Harbor Parks and Recreation Department and budgets tax dollars collected for those services. It also oversees the small East Lake library.

At subsequent PHCSA meetings, supporters of Perez showed up to praise her work at the East Lake library and to suggest that a written agreement requires PHCSA to consult with the East Lake Community Library Advisory Board before taking any personnel actions.

Smirlis' term on the PHCSA board expired Dec. 31, so it has fallen to Haslam to deal with the allegations.

Wednesday night Haslam reminded his board members that because the library advisory board was frustrated about not being consulted, a decision on reprimanding Perez was delayed at the December meeting until PHCSA officers could meet with advisory board chairman Ron Schultz.

Haslam said he, along with Smirlis and Mary Mason, the administrative coordinator for PHCSA, met with both Perez and Schultz two weeks ago.

"We gave Ron all documentation needed to update an evaluation of the library director," Haslam said. "Ron and I talked for quite a bit, and once we get the documents back from him, we'll move on from there."

After Wednesday's meeting, when asked directly if there was still a possibility Perez would be reprimanded, Haslam said, "As of now, there is no reprimand. The reprimand has been tabled, and what I am mostly concerned about is getting (Perez's) performance review completed and then the board can make any further decision necessary."

Perez, who attended Wednesday's meeting, has said she wants an apology and the reprimand rescinded.

Also at Wednesday's meeting, three additional PHCSA board officers were named: Marcus Harrison, vice chairman; Thomas Seibert, treasurer; and Sharon Pikulinski, secretary.

PHCSA's annual retreat is scheduled for Jan. 28. The next regular meeting will be Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Palm Harbor Library.

Piper Castillo can be reached at (727) 445-4163 or at pcastillo@tampabay.com. The submit a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Status of East Lake library director occupies new board chairman 01/19/12 [Last modified: Thursday, January 19, 2012 7:12pm]
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