Thousand-dollar trash cans, designer lounge chairs and possible contract scams.
Those controversial issues should shed some light as to why the FBI raided the Detroit Public Library’s main branch this morning, a source familiar with the library’s ongoing financial woes told the Free Press. The library official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the struggling library system has been embroiled in a controversy over alleged misspending on lavish items, such as $1,000 stainless steel trash cans and $1,000 chairs for a new wing in the library.
The expenditures raised eyebrows, the library official said, given the library has laid off dozens of employees and struggled with a $10-million budget deficit in what officials called an unprecedented fiscal crisis. Last year, the library system closed two of its 23 branches and cut its staff by 20%, or 83 employees.
Some library commissioners have requested an internal probe to find out whether certain renovations were done without the proper bidding process, the official said, pointing out that three officials have come under scrutiny: library director JoAnn Mondowney, who was placed on administrative leave in May amid allegations about misspending but has since returned to work without a contract; and deputy director Juliet Machie and chief administrative officer Tim Cromer, both of whom also are continuing to work even though their contracts expired earlier this year.