By Kyle Orlowicz / Reporter
LYNDHURST (Nov. 18, 2010) — After 20 years of service on the Lyndhurst Library Board of Trustees, Mayor Richard DiLascio showed Annie Rowe the door last month when he opted not to reappoint her to her long-held position.
Perhaps it was time for Rowe to move on; however, the longtime public servant and volunteer said she was not given the opportunity to step down gracefully. Instead, she was the last to find out of DiLascio’s decision to replace her and was not even told by the mayor himself.
As one of nine trustees on the board, Rowe carried out basic duties, including budget planning and hiring new employees. She also served as president of the board for 11 years. According to Library Director Donna Romeo, Rowe was a committed trustee and deeply involved in the library’s community outreach programs.
Rowe said in an interview with The Leader that she is an avid reader and passionate about the public library system. “It’s not just books in the library anymore,” she said. “People come in and use the computers, or they look for information. It’s a part of the town.”
On Oct. 18, after hearing from Romeo that she was not being reappointed, Rowe sought answers from town hall.
When she called for an official explanation, she was told that DiLascio had contacted her a month earlier to inform her of his decision.
In a letter to the editor of The Leader, Rowe called that notion ridiculous, adding that if she had received such a call, she would have “simply accepted the decision.” In reality, all that Rowe received was a letter from town clerk Helen Polito, dated Oct. 18, the same day she found out from Romeo that she would not be returning. According to Romeo, the official date of Rowe’s last meeting as a trustee was June 30.
Rowe stressed to The Leader that she does not question DiLascio’s decision to remove her from the board. She said it was the lack of respect that led her to contact The Leader: “All I needed was for somebody to say, ‘We’re very sorry, but we’re not putting you back on the board,’ and that would have been the end of it,” she lamented. “And to say that they called me and they didn’t.”
In her letter, Rowe admitted that she was an outspoken critic of DiLascio’s during her time on the board and even suggested that her ousting from the board was politically motivated. Although, when interviewed, Rowe cared not to elaborate on these claims, opting instead for civility.
Romeo assured The Leader that Rowe never used her pulpit at the library to speak on local politics.
Lyndhurst Commissioner Brian Haggerty, who was recently appointed liaison and alternate member to the library board, said he regretted hearing that Rowe’s feelings were hurt in the appointment process.
However, he is ready to turn the page.
According to Haggerty, the newest appointee to the Lyndhurst Library Board, Orlando Saa, is a viable addition to the educational institution. Saa holds two doctoral degrees and recently retired as a professor from William Paterson University.
Haggerty hopes Saa will be helpful in building a bridge between the library and the community.
The commissioner said that he wants the library to be a cultural center as well as a learning tool.
Haggerty suggested that, given the state of New Jersey’s troubled economy, libraries such as Lyndhurst’s need strong, proven leadership as funding becomes slimmer.
Ignoring DiLascio’s sentiments, the library board of trustees and Lyndhurst Public Library staff recently celebrated Rowe’s career with dinner in her honor.
Romeo, who mentioned that Rowe always showed a great concern for library staff, was in attendance as well as other esteemed members of the community.