High school librarian fined $500 being proud of his daughter, giving free books to students

Filed under: News — marcia at 7:35 pm on Thursday, October 23, 2008

A high school librarian’s daughter illustrated a graphic-novel version of Macbeth. You know, the Scottish play. By that Shakespeare guy. He mentioned it as his pick in the library’s newsletter and put some copies on a library display table (giving free copies to some students). An ethics board decided he had abused his position as a civil servant, fining him $500 and making him sign a three-page admission of guilt.

“There are so many things going on they could investigate,” he said in an interview, “and they had nothing better to do than allege that my daughter would have gotten 20 cents in royalties if someone bought the book. But nobody did. I gave out free copies. I was just so proud of my daughter for writing it.”

Sound like a mishap caused by a zero-tolerance rule and an overzealous board? Nope! This Conflicts of Interest Board has the authority to use discretion. And that was how the chose to exercise it.

The New York City Charter warns public servants about taking actions in their official roles that benefit them personally, and the conflicts board is empowered to interpret the code and bring cases when warranted. Last week, for example, the conflicts board ruled that City Council members would not violate the charter were they to vote to extend or abolish the term limits now scheduled to remove them from office.

City council members voting to extend their own terms? No problem. High school librarian being proud of his daughter in a high school newsletter and giving away free books? Inexcusable!

From NY Times “City Room”

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