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Library's woes not over yet

May 19, 2022

By Mike Weland

A tort claim on behalf of four whistleblowers was delivered to the Boundary County Free Library District Board at its May meeting this morning seeking the immediate resignation of the entire board and the immediate discharge of two library employees as a show of good faith so as to enter federal mediation requested about six months ago to resolve an array of issues and alleged crimes.

"For the sake of this community, as well as the brave four I am privileged to represent, I urge you to abandon the tactics of falsehood, threat and bluster, and act in the interest of the public you claim so fervently to faithfully serve," attorney Jeff Boiler wrote on behalf of his wife, librarian Dana Boiler, and librarian Cari Haarstick, who are both still on administrative leave with pay since the library reopened July 23, 2021, after a three month emergency closure, and librarians Christine "Mac" Withers and Eric Lindenbusch, who were also placed on paid leave July 23 until February 28, when both were fired.

The tort claim itself can be read here. The accompanying documentation is too lengthy to post.

Under Idaho tort law, the district now has 90 days in which to seek resolution if they so choose. If not, the claimant can seek resolution in a court of law.

"This is to advise you that a claim for damages and injunctive relief is and will be made in a Federal Court of appropriate jurisdiction on behalf of each of my clients identified above," Jeff Boiler wrote. " ... The proposed Complaint will contain claims arising under Federal law with primary Federal jurisdiction, as will include State-law based claims under pendent jurisdiction."

In addition to the board; Bob Blanford, Ken Blockhan, Wendy McClintock, Aaron Bohachek and Lee Colson, the claim also names library director Kimber Glidden, former directors Sandy Ashworth and Craig Anderson, IT tech and former interim director Derrick Grow and librarian Amy Maggi.

The list of crimes alleged is long; child endangerment, abetting child sexual abuse and endangerment on library property, unlawful dissemination of sexually explicit material to a minor, theft of property, identity theft, falsification or destruction of public records, evidence tampering, witness tampering, money laundering and more.

"This record has been created and is submitted not only for clarity and the purpose of your responsible investigation and handling of the matters summarized here, but in the interest of the entire community, which has been severely and adversely impacted by the District’s irresponsible and pugnacious handling of these serious matters of public interest to date," the 25-page claim reads. ... "Because of the systematic conduct of District affairs in secrecy, and contrary to virtually all State and Federal law designed to provide transparency and the conduct of public business in public, the claimants here have come together with one voice to say 'Enough. This far, and no farther' ... This document, which will begin to tell that story for the entire community to see and to weigh, is not intended for harm, but for the shining of light in dark places."

Specific and detailed allegations include manipulating elections.

"The library was run by Sandra Ashworth for about 20 years, from approximately 1997 through her full PERSI retirement in about 2017," the claim reads. "During her tenure as Director, public records attached prove that not a single election was actually held for any position held by a Trustee. A plan was developed and implemented by Ashworth and others during her directorship, whereby the public was not given lawful or meaningful notice of vacancy or that Trustee positions were up for election. Instead, Ashworth selected people from the community who would allow her to control all aspects of library operations without any public accountability. During this time, estimates from available budget records suggest Ashworth controlled about $10.5 million in public funds made available from property taxes levied by the County and provided to the District in a lump sum."

The tort alleges that none of the trustees who served during Ashworth's tenure actually stood for election, notices of vacancies seldom posted as required, one handpicked candidate urged to file notice of candidacy right before deadline and elections called off because only one candidate had filed.

That candidate was then named a trustee.

"In short, she ran the library as though it were an organized criminal enterprise, violating elections laws subject to criminal sanction, and did so for an extensive period of time," Boiler wrote. "Perhaps worst of all to a community so rich in faith, she concealed all these actions under the meek clerical garb of a devout Mennonite Christian, while her conduct summarized in the attachment is better described as the activity of a ravenous wolf."

The claim also details allegations of deliberate, willful and systematic violations of open meeting laws to conceal fraud, waste and mismanagement, retaliation and personal attacks on his clients, "whistleblowers" who, "without making any claim of personal damage," sought constructive resolution of all the issues broadly outlined as part of the then-management crisis.

"The sad truth is that this public agency has been used by a small cadre of men and women to further unlawful means, and to avoid public accountability for massive breaches of public trust to the voters and taxpayers of this county, for many years," Boiler concluded. "The specificity chosen to be included here is so that these citizens may finally know the truth, and be given a clear choice on how and where accountability for these unlawful actions will be imposed. It is the choice of the Board and its insurer on which is in the public interest, and which is in the personal interests of a select few who have caused, allowed or concealed this gross abuse of public trust to exist, flourish and continue. Whether that choice is public and involuntary, or private and voluntary, is entirely up to the District, its legal representatives, and its insurer.
Chart of library trustee elections/appointments, 1979 - 2023

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Mike Weland, Publisher

6931 Main St.
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(208) 295-1016

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