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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: San Francisco | Government & Elections
SF City Librarian Covered Up $130,000 Contributions From Corporate "non-profit" Running th
The Librarian Luis Herrera has been involved in a cover-up of $130,000 that he received from the corporate controlled non-profit "Friends of the Library". The mayor Ed Lee has installed a chair of the Commission who has continuously violated the rights of the citizens to speak and get information about how the library is run.
SF City Librarian Covered Up $130,000 Contributions From Corporate "non-profit" Running the Labrary
Library Users Association
P.O. Box 170544, San Francisco, CA 94117-0544
Tel./Fax (415) 753-2180
PRESS-RELEASE CONTACT: Peter Warfield
September 23, 2013 Tel./Fax: (415) 753-2180; cell/text 735-8963
FPPC Approves “Stipulation”
S.F. Library Advocate’s Complaint
Yields FPPC Fine for City Librarian Luis Herrera
for Unlawful Failure to Report Gifts Received
San Francisco, September 23, 2013 – Months-long efforts of library whistleblowers James Chaffee and Ray Hartz bore fruit as their research and a formal complaint led to an investigation by California’s Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) – and resulted in San Francisco City Librarian Luis Herrera formally acknowledging that he unlawfully failed to report financial contributions he received from the Friends of San Francisco Public Library.
The FPPC formally approved Mr. Herrera’s written admission of guilt and payment of a $600 fine – called a stipulation – at its regularly scheduled meeting in Sacramento Thursday morning, September 19, 2013. The agenda notice said that the body’s action would be to settle a case of Mr. Herrera’s failure “to report gifts received from the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library on Annual Statements of Economic Interests (Form 700) for calendar years 2009, 2010, and 2011 in violation of Government Code Section 87300 (3 counts).”
The complaint about the violations had been filed in April 2013 by long-time library advocate James Chaffee. The complaint said that Mr. Herrera filed forms actively declaring that he had no donations to report when, in fact, research by whistleblower Ray Hartz showed that Mr. Herrera had received at least $130,000 from the Friends in two of those three years.
The stipulation did not state how much in unreported gifts Mr. Herrera received, but research by Mr. Hartz that Mr. Chaffee included in his complaint showed that the Friends of SFPL had provided Mr. Herrera $66,000 in 2008-9 and $65,000 in 2009-10 for a “City Librarian’s Fund.”
Mr. Chaffee’s complaint noted that the funds were used for such things as “conference attendance,” $1,615.15, “business expense,” $755.10, and “office furnishings,” $510.31.
State law says “All reports and statements filed under this title shall be signed under penalty of perjury and verified by the filer. The verification shall state that the filer has used all reasonable diligence in its preparation, and that to the best of his knowledge it is true and complete.”
Mr. Chaffee noted that the City Librarian, as a city department head, is required to attend the San Francisco City Attorney’s annual trainings on open government and conflict of interest, and had signed forms indicating his attendance. Consequently, Mr. Chaffee said, Mr. Herrera’s violations were willful, having been made with knowledge that his failure to report gifts from the Friends of SFPL represented violations of the law.
Mr. Chaffee at the Commission hearing testified that, in his opinion, the penalty was too low, while Peter Warfield, Executive Director of Library Users Association, said that the fine was less than one day’s pay for the City Librarian on three penalties that the law defines as perjury.
The law states, “Every person who signs and verifies any report or statement required to be filed under this title which contains material matter which he knows to be false is guilty of perjury.”
The City Librarian was fined $200 for each violation, for a total of $600.
Neither Mr. Herrera nor Jim Sutton, his attorney in this matter, spoke at the FPPC’s September 19 meeting
The Political Reform Act of 1974, which created the FPPC and associated regulations, was created in part to ensure that “Public officials, whether elected or appointed, should perform their duties in an impartial manner, free from bias caused by …the financial interests of persons who have supported them.”
Prior research by Mr. Chaffee showed that the Friends of San Francisco Public Library raised $36 million in the fiscal years 2000-1 through 2009-10 and donated $4 million to the library in the same period. The figures are based on tax filings by the Friends and official reports of donations provided on the library’s website.
Mr. Warfield noted that the Friends have received many privileges from the library that are neither given nor offered to others, including use of its facilities to distribute publicity and to collect books for sale at their in-library bookstore, and use of library facilities for fundraising where admission is for members only.