The head of the Queens Public Library is now under a federal investigation, a probe that is expected to take a deep look at how much money it spends on renovations, but nonetheless, the library's CEO was at the City Council Tuesday to make his case for more public dollars in the city budget. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
Thomas Galante, the head of the Queens Library, walked into City Hall Tuesday prepared to ask for more money.
"There is still more to do, including investments needed to protect and maintain libraries by replacing roofs and heating and air conditioning systems," Galante said.
He left in a swarm of reporters, firing off questions about private attorneys and subpoenas.
"No comment, guys. You can just boogie, OK?" he said.
Galante is under federal investigation. It's a scandal that overshadowed a routine budget hearing at the City Council, and it's one chapter in the now controversial saga of Galante's tenure at the helm of the Queens Library system.
First, it was a question of his salary, which is upwards of $400,000 a year. Then, there were questions about a costly renovation of his library office, which included a smoking deck. Now, Galante is being eyed for alleged ties he has with the library's contractor.
On Tuesday, Galante assured the Council that any lawyers hired on his behalf were not being paid for with public dollars.
City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley of Queens: Are we using city dollars, tax levy dollars to pay for private attorneys?
Galante: No. There was no vote on any private attorneys or anything of the like of what you just said.
He said that the library's recent decision to hire a public relations firm had nothing to do with the scandal.
"There was a $30,000 appropriation for a public relations firm, which is part of an ongoing work that we're doing to promote the services that we offer," he said.
This is the second appearance for Galante before the City Council in about a month. So far, members say the investigation needs to continue, and none have called for his resignation.
"I think that we should allow those investigations to proceed and conclude before calling for anyone's resignation," said City Councilman James Van Bramer of Queens.
In fact, council members told NY1 that they plan to bring Galante back to the chamber, with the expectation that they will get more detailed answers to their questions.