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Indianapolis library board votes in chief administrative officer; CEO job remains unfilled

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An audience erupted in criticism following a special meeting of the Indianapolis Public Library board on Tuesday to name another library leader.

The decision on a chief administrative officer came as the board tries to move forward with its controversial search for a new chief executive officer.

The library board and community members quickly set the mood for the special meeting. A decision on a new and neutral chief administrative officer wouldn’t be unanimous.

The board on Tuesday named Anita Harden to a 12-month role as chief administrative officer.

“I have no doubt that some of the conflicts that this organization has experienced will get resolved,” Harden said.

With public comment not allowed at Tuesday’s meeting, many still expressed a growing list of concerns to News 8.

Michael Torres, president of the library workers’ union, said, “All of the additional costs in this whole search is continuing and continuing to be a burden on the taxpayers.”

It could mean up to $190,000 more in addition to what’s already been spent.

The next board meeting open for public comment will be Monday.

For more than a month, the board and community have faced off and offered opposing views around the search for a new chief executive officer for the library system. Calls to name the former interim CEO Nichelle Hayes to as the permanent CEO have failed. The board president says the library has been without a permanent leader for more than 16 months.

Hope Tribble, president of the library board, said about Tuesday’s action on the chief administrative officers, “I believe this is a good first step for that. If we are looking at the climate improvement recommendations that were made, one of them, several of them, are related to governance.”

Two library board members, Khaula Murtadha and Patricia Payne, from the beginning haven’t voted with the board.

They tried to delay the naming of a chief administrative officer on Tuesday until new board members are seated, but the rest of the board voted against their proposal.

Torres said about Murtadha and Payne, “They have just intentionally it seems like ignoring them, and they can do that, I suppose, because they don’t have the majority.”

Murtadha and Payne said they on Monday, which was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, received a copy of the proposal to name Hardin as chief administrative officer, and because of the federal holiday didn’t get adequate time to review it.