Robles files lawsuit against
BCL trustees, response alleges mismanagement

April 02, 2014
Santa Paula News

By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula Times Former Blanchard Community Librarian Dan Robles has filed a lawsuit alleging that he was wrongfully terminated against the Board of Trustees whose attorney filed a response claiming trustees were more than justified in letting Robles go after 46 1/2 years of service.

Robles, who had started with the library as a teenage volunteer, was fired in April 2013 after months of rising public criticism and contentious meetings that had started more than a year previously. 

He was making more than $70,000 annually plus benefits according to the complaint his attorney, Leslie McAdam of Ferguson, Case, Orr, Patterson, filed in February in Ventura County Superior Court.

The lawsuit claims breach of contract and wrongful termination on the part of the board that fired Robles. He was appointed librarian in 1979 but had volunteered at the North 8th Street library since 1966, when he was a teenager. 

In June 2012, then-library trustees approved a new contract for Robles-the document attached to the lawsuit does not have compensation amounts listed-that was in effect until December 31, 2013. If Robles was terminated before that time, the document states he would be paid through the contract end date. 

Although the contract document notes then Board of Trustees President Brenda DeJamaer, late Board Clerk Suzi Skutley and Robles witnessed it there are no signatures on the contract. There is also no corresponding statement that a lawyer reviewed the document. 

The complaint against library trustees notes Robles, during his almost five decades of service, “was instrumental in saving the library from closure due to lack of funding by organizing the public to approve a parcel assessment and create a library district, and has been recognized for his excellence through numerous awards such as the California Library Association’s Public Librarian Award of Excellence, which he received in 2010.”

His suit seeks a minimum of $50,000 plus interest for lost wages and benefits as well as attorney’s costs.

The library’s attorney, Nancy Kierstyn Schreiner, of Anderson Kill, filed a response to Robles’ complaint on March 20 noting that trustees’ terminated Robles because he engaged in “conduct, during work hours and using library equipment, that was improper and wasteful of library/public resources.”

The response lists 37 allegations, including inappropriate personal use of library computers and email, failure to maintain the library’s physical structure, failure to oversee and direct employees, prepare statistical data and complete forms required by outside agencies and failure to keep the library in compliance with existing state and local laws and regulations, among other allegations.

In addition, the response notes Robles “Made misrepresentations or misstatement to a Board Member that final certificate of deposits were made with Santa Barbara Bank & Trust,” and also breached fiduciary duties, “thereby causing Blanchard to sustain damages.”

At an August 2013 BCL Trustees’ meeting Board President Linda Spink announced $750,000 in library funds were unaccounted for, an issue still being investigated by the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office.

Sometime in May 2013 the library no longer employed bookkeeper Tammy Ferguson, who joined BCL in 1993.

Spink’s written statement noted BCL attorneys and “other forensic experts” are evaluating the situation on behalf of the library and efforts would be made to recover “any and all losses that may exist... “

Numerous attempts were made to contact Robles with no reponse. Also, an attempt was made to reach his attorney who was out of town.

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