Update 4:30 p.m.
The institution’s board of trustees fired Galante during a meeting Wednesday night—prompting his lawyer to say Thursday that he will be suing for breach of contract.
“This evening, the board of trustees heard a report by counsel. Based on that and a prior report by counsel, a decision was made to terminate immediately Mr. Galante’s employment,” a statement from the library said. “As the library moves forward, the board of trustees will continue working to ensure greater transparency and the proper administration of the library and its funds in furtherance of its mission. Queens Library will continue to provide outstanding value to the people of Queens.”
In September the board voted to suspend Galante, appointing Bridget Quinn-Carey, the library’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, to carry out his duties. He continued to collect his $392,000 annual salary while on administrative leave.
According to the resolution voted on by the board, Galante was fired with cause. Library officials would not specify what constituted cause in his case.
Galante is looking to sue for breach of contract, although nothing has been filed yet, according to Hillary Zilz Prudlo, whose firm Sclam Stone & Dolan is representing Galante.
If Galante can prove in court that the board did not have cause to fire him, he could be due five years’ salary under the terms of his contract—nearly $2 million.
In September, the board voted to open its books for the city comptroller, Scott Stringer, to perform an audit on all financial data from the library, which receives 85 percent of its funding from taxpayer money but is not officially a city agency or department.
In a statement released on Wednesday Stringer said Galante’s termination was “long overdue.”
“Transparency and proper controls are the cornerstones of good nonprofit governance. My office is currently conducting comprehensive audits of all three New York City library systems. Separately, in my capacity as an ex-officio trustee at the Queens Library, we have already begun working with the board to strengthen internal controls to ensure greater transparency,” he said.
Galante has been under fire since a series of media reports revealing the renovation of his office that included a $27,000 outdoor deck and expenses he rang up on a library credit card during his time as library director.
Earlier this week, Joseph Ficalora, CEO of NY Community Bank and past president of the Queens Library Foundation Board, told The Courier that the expenses Galante made during his time as library director were not “inappropriate” and had all been approved by the board.
Ficalora was one of the six Queens Library trustees dismissed by Borough President Melinda Katz in July. Mayor Bill de Blasio fired two, and two others resigned. Four new trustees have since been appointed.
Six of the ousted trustees filed a lawsuit in August demanding to be reinstated. Last month, a federal judge granted the request of the former trustees to dismiss their lawsuit that challenged Katz’s decision to remove them from the board.
“Tonight’s action further restores public faith and trust in the management of the Queens Library,” Katz said in a statement following Galante’s termination. “The reformed board of trustees continues to move the library in the right direction consistent with its educational purpose.”