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Suit says library board in EC acted improperly

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



EAST CHICAGO — The legal ramblings over tumultuous leadership changes at the East Chicago public library continued Tuesday when attorney Carmen Fernandez filed suit against a list of defendants.

It was unclear Tuesday if the case will be assigned to Lake Circuit Court or Lake Superior Court.

The suit claims appointments to the library board were improper, so the firings of former Director Manny Montalvo and former board attorneys Fernandez and Roy Dominguez were illegal.

“We need to find out who the real board members are,” Fernandez said.

The suit, filed on behalf of Montalvo and ousted board members Ricardo Garcia and Chasidy Gomez, names Mayor Anthony Copeland, appointed by the city’s precinct committeemen last fall, police Chief Gus Flores and Sgt. Louis Arcuri, school board members and a list of library board members as defendants.

On March 16, a quorum of board members fired Montalvo following allegations of misspending by the State Board of Accounts last month and a misdemeanor conviction on an incident in Chicago last fall.

The board also fired Fernandez and Dominguez at that meeting and removed Garcia from the board.

In East Chicago, the school board appoints three members to the board, with the mayor, the city council, county council and county commissioners each having one appointment.

Fernandez’s filing paints a picture of confusion at the meeting, as one board met in the normal main library meeting room and another group met in another part of the building. Both sides called police, with Arcuri eventually forcing Montalvo from the building.

Last week, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller filed a lawsuit in Lake Circuit Court seeking to freeze Montalvo’s assets after a state Board of Accounts report claimed Montalvo racked up $12,000 in inappropriate travel expenses. A hearing related to that filing is set for today.

Fernandez said she filed the lawsuit in her capacity as library board attorney, believing her termination was invalid. 



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