Issue 22, Volume 85
Nov. 28, 2012
TALK ABOUT THE NEVER-ENDING STORY
The Times Colonist of Victoria has revealed that former Windsor Public Library CEO Barry Holmes accumulated $131,606 worth of personal purchases on his corporate MasterCard while he was CEO at the Greater Victoria Public Library.
You’ve got to be kidding me.
We already know that during Holmes’ tenure at the Windsor Public Library from 2010 to 2012, he managed to charge more than $67,000 in personal expenses.
The Times Colonist also reported that Holmes earned $144,147 annually while serving at the Greater Victoria Public Library and received $43,046 in severance upon his leave.
Holmes was “terminated without cause” from the Greater Victoria Public Library in 2010.
According to a Windsor Public Library media release announcing Holmes’ hiring, its CEO position has a annual salary range of $113,429.63 to $137,874.85. Let’s be conservative and say the average is $125,652.
According to the Windsor Star, Holmes’ lawyer indicated that his client “threatened a lawsuit unless there was a ‘reasonable and fair agreement’ on his separation” from the Windsor Public Library.
In other words, Holmes was willing to sue for his severance package.
Holmes was employed with the Greater Victoria Public Library for roughly four years and he racked up an average of $32,901 annually on personal expenses. He was employed with the Windsor Public Library for roughly two years and accumulated an average of $33,50O on personal expenses annually.
If you average the two figures, Holmes spent $33,200 annually for non-library related purchases, that didn’t go to improving the services of either library, and that were essentially stolen from the taxpayers of Victoria and Windsor, respectively.
It is easy to mince words and dance around the issue at hand, and while many claim that Holmes didn’t steal the cash as it was approved by the board, he may as well have.
Both library boards were complicit in Holmes’ actions as monthly invoices were approved. Holmes used his position as CEO to usurp library funds from the Greater Victoria Public Library, actively and knowingly achieved this end, and upon his termination “without cause,” repeated the procedure in another city roughly 4,000 km across the country.
Holmes was highly regarded by many in the Canadian library community as an innovative CEO, but he has no doubt come to realize that his actions have tainted his reputation. After continually extending his sick leave from the Windsor Public Library before leaving in July 2012, he has yet to comment upon either affair and has avoided being seen publicly since the story broke earlier this year.
Fortunately, both libraries have since updated their procedures related to purchasing and employee expenses, but that doesn’t change the damage already done to both libraries’ bank accounts and the public’s trust in the institutions.
Holmes needs to speak to his actions and explain himself; the public deserves it and should continue to demand it.
While neither library should expect to see the funds returned— as Holmes has no legal obligation to do so— they should remind the library community worldwide that Holmes is more trouble than he is worth.
Jon Liedtke was the Features and Opinions Editor, Advertising Manager and Deficit Consultant at the UWindsor Lance.