Greater Victoria Public Library board tone-deaf to public’s concerns

(Victoria, 27 November 2012) – Today’s response from the chair of the Greater Victoria Public Library to Saturday’s Victoria Times Colonist report over former library CEO Barry Holmes credit charges, shows an alarming disregard for local taxpayers, according to IntegrityBC.

IntegrityBC was reacting to library board chairman Karel Roessingh’s comments in today’s Times Colonist where he states: “There may be public concern, but I have to say the board is not concerned about the way we manage money.”

This followed earlier comments from former board chair and Saanich councillor Paul Gerrard, who said: “There was nothing that jumped out at me as far as anything unusual about his credit card expenses.”

On Saturday, the Times Colonist reported that Holmes had spent $131,606 on his corporate credit card over three and a half years on purchases, including music downloads and $500 in hemp-based body cream.

“Hemp-based body cream seems like an expense that wouldn’t just jump out, but leap out as an unusual purchase for a public library,” said IntegrityBC executive director Dermod Travis, who also called on the board to release all receipts related to the credit card charges, including noting charges that Holmes reimbursed at the time.

If the current board wants to be transparent, this is a good time and place to start.”

IntegrityBC disputed the library board’s belief that meetings held at Victoria pubs may constitute a legitimate expense.

“It’s not uncommon that public boards are recognized for their work through an annual social activity,” said Travis. “It is, however, irregular for public boards to conduct business meetings in pubs at the taxpayer’s expense.”

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For more information:

Dermod Travis, Executive Director