A Quick Update on the Money That Keeps Getting Rejected and a Call for Help

I just wanted to let you all know what’s happening with the $3,000+ that was rejected by the Morton Grove Park District and then by the Morton Grove Public Library (whose trustees called us a “hate group“).

Because the money was always intended to help the people of Morton Grove, I will be sending a check to the Niles Township Food Pantry, which helps people who need food and serves the Morton Grove community (among others).

In the meantime, remember that the frustration with the public library is with the trustees and not the people who work there. In fact, I think it would be amazing if readers would check out the library’s wish list and consider pitching in so they can fulfill as many of the wishes as possible. There’s no reason to hold a grudge against the staffers or the people they help.

Thanks, everyone. More updates coming soon.

(Update from Paul: Library wish list link is now fixed.)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Marie Alexander

    The whole thing is kind of crazy, but I especially hope these people don’t turn down the money, mostly because, if they do turn it down, I’m going to be there at the screen like “YOU COULD HAVE USED THAT MONEY TO FEED PEOPLE!! GAAAAAH THERE COULD BE PEOPLE WHO GO HUNGRY B/C OF YOUR PRIDE…”

    Still, I’m getting ahead of myself. It’s just I care more about people getting fed than people getting books.

    Hopefully these people have some sense.

    Merry Christmas, Happy Festivus, Super Saturnalia, Peace on Earth, and a Happy New Year everybody. :)

  • Rob Bos

    WAR ON NEWTONMAS RAWRGHR

  • jwthomas

    Your link to the library wish list doesn’t work ( at least for me) and all my attempts to locate it on the library web site have failed. Could you see what the problem is?

  • bearclover

    I had the same issue.

  • bearclover

    I was able to find the wish list by googling “Morton grove library wish list”. The link was several down for me.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson
  • Abbé Faria

    No. Not going to support these idiots in any way.

  • paulalovescats

    Did you read the above? He wants the money to go to the community he tried to give it to in the first place. It’s going to the PEOPLE, not the three idiots on the board.

  • http://127.0.0.1 3lemenope

    The implication was that people are reflected in the leaders they choose. If the leaders are idiots, it does not speak well for the people.

    I don’t happen to agree (for several mostly arcane reasons), but it’s a totally reasonable position to take. If you don’t want to be judged by your current leaders, pick better ones.

  • Abbé Faria

    Exactly. And if you disagree with what your leaders say then protest, but there haven’t been any protests from the community, have there? So the only thing you can conclude from that is that they agree.

  • bearclover

    I found several examples of the local citizens voicing their concern and frustration over that female board members actions, including letters to the editor and comments on the website of the local newspaper.

  • Brian Macker

    Might be ignorant of the issue, or lazy. I don’t know everything my local town is up to. (BTW, not my downvote)

  • Abbé Faria

    No worries, I knew it wouldn’t be a popular opinion in this give money to everyone mindset that seems to be clouding the atheist community right now.

  • Artor

    Funny, you don’t see Joe Klein turning down donations from atheists.

  • Randay

    Congrats, in a previous related thread I managed to get Joe Klein mentioned.

  • Brian Macker

    Plus, as is, the board does control how the money is spent. They obviously are not going to be buying books and supporting programs that are ethical. Giving them funds is not the same has giving funds to a group you know are going to spend it feeding the poor, or helping disaster victims . So that is another reason why Abbe’ Faria’s position is reasonable.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    No, the board does not control how the money is spent. The librarians are responsible for the library’s collections, and in an email reply, told me they “make every effort to include materials representing all viewpoints, within budgetary and space limitations”

  • Brian Macker

    Do they control which librarians and administrators get hired? The control doesn’t have to be direct, you know. You can fire and hire based on pretext, like this lady used pretext to reject the donation. So your hire like minded librarians and fire un-like minded ones.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    No, not from my experience. As for why risk it- we’ll each do what we want with our money :-)

  • brianmacker

    I wasn’t suggesting otherwise. I think either position reasonable.

  • Brian Macker

    … and why risk it when there are plenty of other places to donate to. For example, I’m sure there is a libray closer to Hemant. One without a cloud over it.

  • Artor

    Because the money was originally donated to benefit this particular community. I know you’ve been following this story- how could you miss that point?

  • Randay

    And in atheist tradition, the money was donated to benefit a community that apparently doesn’t deserve it. Of course we didn’t know that at the time. Now we do, so we can tell them to shove off. The presumed xians who refused the donation should ask themselves What Would Jesus Do?

  • brianmacker

    This particular “community” has rejected the donation twice.

  • Artor

    The community didn’t reject the donation, it was the Park & Library boards. A dozen individual wingnuts is not the same as the whole community.

  • brianmacker

    You are the one that used that phraseology. The donation wasn’t being made to the community either. It was being made to the park or to the library. People who never use the library or the park, and yet are part of the “community” were not going to benefit from this donation. If Hemant doesn’t feel he is restricted to using this as originally collected, for the park. Then I don’t see why he can’t donate it to any other charity. It is just as valid to donate it to a park in another city for instance. One can as easily argue the donations were for park activities and that he should have donated it to a park in another community.

  • mdoc

    There are people who do not want the leaders they have. Give to benefit those people.

  • berberine

    I’m not sure how it is in other towns, but in my town these people are appointed, not elected by the general public. Recently, I heard there was an opening on the town board and three people wanted the job. A week later, a person was picked, there was no election and I haven’t a clue who did the picking or how it works.

    At my local library the board is made up of people who want to volunteer for the positions. There aren’t any elections there either.

  • Benjamin Schapiro

    In Illinois there are several forms of public library governance established in state statute. Morton Grove is a ‘Home Rule’ village and by law its library trustees are elected for 6 year terms.

  • Ibis3

    In this case, the trustees were elected. This was Catherine Peters’ write-up as a candidate:

    I am running out of a sincere desire to serve the library. The Morton Grove Public Library played a huge role in my life. I received my first card when I was 5, in 1959, and have held one continuously ever since. In my school years, I made almost daily trips to this library, and have spent more hours there than in any other public space in the village. This library, and the wonderful librarians who have worked there through the years, fostered my lifelong love of learning and reading. My grandfather provided the first space for the Morton Grove Library, and held the first book drive for it. It is a natural fit for me, and is a way for me to thank the library for everything it has given me.

    The problem with the library is not with the employees; it is with the board. The budget has been grossly mismanaged. The budget was increased by almost 15 percent this year, a $400,000 boost in taxes for the people of Morton Grove. Huge amounts of money have been shunted in an effort to force a new building on the community instead of using these funds to provide materials and services. Only one-sixth of the library budget goes for books, electronic media and programs. Money is flying out the door to consultants. The board is deliberately allowing the building to go into a state of disrepair in order to bolster their insistence that we get a new building that we don’t need and can’t afford. They have $2 million in cash in a “reserved/restricted for culture and recreation” fund that they refuse to explain. This is listed separate from the “cash and cash equivalents” fund. How did this money get there, and what is it for?

    I read that and listen to her attitude at the meeting and conclude she thinks because her grandfather helped to found the library, she’s entitled to be the boss of it. She wouldn’t so much be the boss if the board decided to go ahead with plans to build a new, up-to-date building. And yes, that costs money.

    http://www.suntimes.com/news/4730002-464/morton-grove-library-trustee-candidate-catherine-peters.html

  • Benjamin Schapiro

    There was no $2 million in a cash reserve fund. She misread the annual audit (“culture and recreation” is the accepted Illinois audit term for a Public Library in effect that was the budget). She ignored the need and expense to rectify serious deficiencies in the building, lack of ADA compliance, problems with asbestos in floors and ceilings and failing HVAC systems for which the board had built up a small reserve and developed a plan for addressing (including a series of engineering studies) over the last couple of years. All of which had been explained and approved by the board. Her platform also included the point that teenagers didn’t belong in the library.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Elsewhere in this thread, Brian Macker asks me

    and why risk it when there are plenty of other places to donate to

    I was thinking about this on my run today, and I couldn’t let go of the feeling that something’s rotten in the state of Denmark. Sure- there are plenty of libraries out there that have need. And plenty of starving people who need food for that matter. Why am I so much more driven by this than even the original Parks board?

    I’m getting the sense that there’s something that needs attention- needs a light shone on it. Moving on would leave it there, and although I know I can’t fix it, I’m not going to move on until I can shine a little more light.

  • http://127.0.0.1 3lemenope

    I think it has to do with attempting to honor the original intent of the original donations, which were due to a particular narrow-minded act (by an American Legion chapter) in a particular town. People respond to events better than they do conditions; the condition of most libraries in most places needing financial aid is not what motivated the money being given, and the only reason it shifted to libraries in the first place was that it was another organization in the town (the park management board) rejected it. So it was more about the place than type of institution anyway.

    That being said, I’m kinda with Brian on this one. Two of this particular town’s civic institutions have clearly and unequivocally declared that they don’t want our help. You can’t make people accept your help and it often is counterproductive to force the issue. Sometimes people’s pride and narrow-mindedness prevents them from getting what they need, and while that is a miserable circumstance, occasionally it is an unavoidable one. It is unfortunate for the town’s people, but as has been explicated they had a role in setting those people there in the first place and so share reasonably in the consequences of those people’s bad decisions. At this point, it may be impossible to honor the original intent of who would receive the funds, and a more productive expense of time and effort would be to find a different place altogether that has similar needs but is more receptive to the donation.

    And ignore people who don’t understand that when conditions change, results often have to change with it; if the giving was really done out of a desire to help and not to stick it to particular people, then there is no problem with it helping someone somewhere else when the original recipients furiously and foolishly decline, and complaints to the end that it is not going to the place in which it is intended shouldn’t be given much attention.

  • Ibis3

    I sort of figured as much. The idea that a small village library would have a $2 million slush fund was rather incredible–especially when they’re begging for cash to buy plastic book bins. And yeah, if the board decided to have some consultations about getting a new building, I’m not surprised that the old one is in such poor shape.

    The fact that she can’t comprehend what she reads was pretty clear from her conclusion that this is a hate site because Hemant reported what some Catholics thought about the artwork in their own church.

    Teenagers reading instead of getting into trouble out of boredom? Heaven forfend!

  • Randay

    From the library’s site, “Your monetary donations and gifts will help to supplement the Library’s budget. Your donation is an investment in the community and will be used to enhance the Library’s services and collections.” I guess the trustees didn’t notice that part.

  • Randay

    I wonder what she did with her hours at the library? Did she read anything other than the bible? Two possibilities: she is a liar or she didn’t learn anything.

  • Abbé Faria

    The “community” are the bigots who voted these idiots onto the board. Let them deal with their own problems.

  • midnight rambler

    Library trustees and town parks commissioners are generally not elected positions. And I’m going to be that whatever the mayor or town council is like, they didn’t appoint those people based on their religious beliefs either.

  • Jeff

    These folks WERE elected, and they specifically ran on a “they are taxing too much for the library” position. However, I will give the community a break for one reason: Who runs for any office saying “and I”ll make sure that any generosity or charity shown to us by those godless atheist will be soundly rejected and ridiculed!” . If the folks running actually said they would turn down donations (something NOT expected of a library or other community service), they wouldn’t have been voted in. I think this behavior is OUTSIDE of what would normally be considered when stepping into the voting booth.

  • TheG

    Who runs for any office saying “and I”ll make sure that any generosity or charity shown to us by those godless atheist will be soundly rejected and ridiculed!”

    People running for agricultural positions in Texas?

  • Jeff

    Or Governor, or Lt. Governor, or Attorney General, or any other position…..

  • $925105

    I don’t think the bigots advertised their bigotry in any campaign. If anything, the donations help expose their bigotry and now the people will be more informed in the next election and hopefully throw them out. What is their response going to be? Vote for me, I stopped those horrible Atheists from donating money to the library?

  • Randay

    I tend to agree. What would Andrew Carnegie say? He built libraries where people wanted them.

  • Daniel

    This post is an example of why I follow this website every day. Even though I have not been commenting. Hemant Mehta takes the high road, is compassionate and passionate, positive, caring, and and example to everyone, even me and I am much much older than he is.

    In the modern toxic discourse among people of faiths, as well as those without faith, it makes a genuine difference to have someone who is well meaning and generous. Thank you so much!

  • A3Kr0n

    …”I have not been commenting”
    You were just saving up for a great comment!

  • http://youtu.be/fCNvZqpa-7Q Kevin_of_Bangor

    But he worships the devil.

  • Jeff

    I don’t think I would say he “worships”. More like he friended Satan of FB…

  • http://youtu.be/fCNvZqpa-7Q Kevin_of_Bangor

    That 666 pic still shows up too :)

  • http://www.everydayintheparkwithgeorge.com/ Matt Eggler

    Someone needs to update the Grateful Dead song “A Facebook friend of the devil is a friend of mine…”

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I wish I’d thought to look for the wish list. I mailed them a check the other day, doubling my original Park’s Board donation. I originally sent an email, and the nice reply I got back gave me the distinct impression that library staff are as frustrated with the board as we are.

  • Denise Royer

    The wishlist has timed out. Is there an alternate way I can take a peak and help out?

  • http://youtu.be/fCNvZqpa-7Q Kevin_of_Bangor
  • Riddles

    Third time’s a charm.

  • Benjamin Schapiro

    Mr. Mehta is correct. The Staff at MGPL is a fantastic group of people. Dedicated to doing the best possible job in service to the people of Morton Grove with the limited resources at hand. While the current elected board has been much more intrusive in reaching down into library daily operations than it should be, it is the Staff’s job to develop the collection, design and deliver services and in general be the professionals meeting the national standards for public librarianship. This they do very well. Helping them is helping the people of Morton Grove.

    Ben Schapiro
    Past Director of Morton Grove Public Library

  • Justin Russell

    If these people don’t want it, I know someone that could really use it. My friend Brittany Harvey was in a horrible accident on December 16, 2013. She was ejected from the car and after several rolls, it landed on her crushing her pelvis. We have set up a fund to help with her recovery at http://gogetfunding.com/project/brittany-s-healthy-recovery. Even if all you can do is help us get the word out, that would be greatly appreciated.

  • Jeff Grigg

    This URL
    http://www.librarywishlist.com/wl/WishList_home.cfm?x=840
    gives this error message:
    “It appears that your session has timed out. We are not able to determine which library’s wishlist you are trying to view. Please return to their home page and try accessing their WishList again.”

    Use this URL:
    http://www.librarywishlist.com/wl/WishList_home.cfm?x=840

  • Jeff Grigg

    I donated the remaining $45 needed for the Morton Grove Public Library to buy Browsing Bins.

    “These browsing bins turn regular shelves into browsing shelves for board books, DVDs, and CDs.”
    “Estimated cost of item: $85.00
    3 people have donated $40.00
    47%
    $45.00 is needed to complete this wish.”

    And the remaing $45 was me.

    Maybe I was hateful at the time. I didn’t feel very hateful. Maybe I’ll buy them something else. Maybe I’ll feel hateful then. ;->

  • Jeff Grigg

    In other words…

    1. Click on this link:
    http://www.librarywishlist.com/wl/WishList_home.cfm?x=840

    2. Click on “Wishes”. (The red wrapped box.)

    3. Chose something on their wish list and fund it.

    I notice that there is an apparently open-ended “Monetary Donations and Gifts” item on their list. So you can give them as much money as you wish, using this channel.

  • $925105

    Donating money to a food bank, isn’t Hemant tired of committing all these hate crimes?

  • Dori

    I just read a story today about how the pope wants Atheists and the religious to work together. He should really not look at the atheists but at the Christians who refuse the help of atheists yet have the audacity to call them a “hate group” or “hateful” in general. In their little bible, Jesus promoted love and acceptance (I’m pretty sure some of my fellow atheists are aware of this); rejecting donated money just because of someone’s religious preference (or lack there of) is rejecting Jesus’ teaching.

  • Michael

    If people do donate, can I just point out that the Interactive Play Table looks like a great way to get children wanting to know more about magnetism and thus science?

    Plus, a few of us could easily buy the whole thing outright and they’d have to look at it and know where it came from. But that’s incidental.

  • tubi11

    I noticed the option to pay for something in full and then make it an “In Honor of” gift. If I had the money, I’d buy one and make it in honor of the MG Park District. Get a nice brass plaque right on there for all to see and marvel at.

  • http://www.atheistrev.com/ vjack

    The food pantry sounds like a great idea. Hopefully they will accept the donation and the saga will end there. I bet you never thought giving money away would be this challenging.

  • Nancy Rector

    This has been a fascinating story. I’m pretty sure that most of us have donated to causes we believe in (so to speak) for decades, but now that freethinkers have started donating as groups the money seems to be tainted. Ain’t that a shame. I say we keep on giving, even if our donations have to wander around a bit to find a grateful taker, until people understand our motive is compassion.

  • peknud

    Someone should donate $666. 😉

  • PA_Year_of_the_Bible

    The Park Board and the Library Board (and the Niles Township Food Pantry, if they reject the donation) need to be sued for violating the Illinois Human Rights Act which states: Sec. 5-102. Civil Rights Violations: Public Accommodations. It is a civil rights violation for any person on the basis of unlawful discrimination to:

    (C) Public Officials. Deny or refuse to another, as a public official, the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations, advantage, facilities or privileges of the official’s office or services or of any property under the official’s care because of unlawful discrimination.
    (Source: P.A. 95-668, eff. 10-10-07.)

    If donating to a park, library, or government-operated food pantry isn’t a “privilege”, I don’t know what is. And they better not try to hide behind any “foundation” shell.