Cook County

Orland Park Public Library Caught Spending Public Funds on Gourmet Jelly Donuts Again

 

Orland Park, Illinois – (ECWd) –

Director Mary Weimar at the Orland Park Public Library is at it again: once more buying an obscene amount of expensive gourmet jelly donuts from the Orland Park Bakery with funds that taxpayers naively believe the library ought to be spending on books, DVDs, and other materials that actually benefit the public. Weimar’s incurable sweet-tooth is well-documented in the book, SHUT UP!: The Bizarre War that One Public Library Waged Against the First Amendment, where her lavish spending on pastries and other diabetes-encouraging goodies for staff was particularly memorable.

Something to note is that prior to the OPPL being scrutinized for its spending through FOIA production, Weimar never allowed the public to eat any of the treats she purchased from this or any other bakery. After this sort of frivolous spending was exposed and written about in letters to the editor in the local paper The Orland Park Prairie, Weimar was shamed into begrudgingly allowing the public to sample the sweet treats like these jelly donuts, too (instead of just keeping them for herself and chosen staff of gluttons).

In a seeming act of defiance, Weimar apparently refuses to ever stop buying the expensive jelly donuts (and paying the absurd premium of $140 for a large box of them!) no matter how many people see her spending receipts…but public scrutiny has curtailed her activities. Weimar used to spend money like this on sweets every month, but is now limited to doing it only once in a while (when she thinks either no one will notice or she can get away with it). So that’s a kind of limited progress.

Still, this remains a glaring example of a public employee (Weimar) enjoying something on a personal level (the gourmet jelly donuts at Orland Park Bakery) and wanting to eat them without having to pay for them herself. So, she uses her public position to have the public body buy the thing she covets (the jelly donuts) and use public funds to buy that for her. If Weimar was not still the Director, it’s highly unlikely that these purchases would continue, as we believe Weimar personally is the driving force behind them and there’s no true public benefit that ever comes from indulging her personal sweet-tooth.

A true steward of the public trust would end the trips to the Orland Park Bakery entirely, but Weimar appears to feel she is entitled to have her jelly donuts (though she doesn’t want to pay for them herself out of her own pocket and nearly $200,000/year compensation package as Library Director). Just because Weimar can legally do something as Director doesn’t mean she should be doing it.

It should be noted that $140 could have purchased several new hardcopy books, more than a dozen new DVDs, and baskets full of activity books for small children. Since the Orland Park Public Library is a public body that regularly cries that it needs more taxpayer funds to keep offering programs to the public, it remains a question as to how any spending at all on sugary sweet treats and gooey goodies for Mary Weimar and friends is ever justified.

If even one book that a member of the public asks the OPPL to buy remains unpurchased due to lack of funds to buy every book that the community wants to be in the library’s collection, why is even a penny (let alone $140!) squandered on jelly donuts that only one woman (who unfortunately happens to be the Library Director) thinks is worth such a high price tag?

Costco has jelly donuts for very affordable prices that are much lower than Orland Park Bakery’s. If Mary Weimar wants to throw herself a donut party with public funds, why can’t there be a compromise that involves less expensive donuts so more money is left over to buy some books?

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27 replies »

  1. I’m familiar with the state constitution. You seem to be under the misapprehension that providing refreshments for an office of government empressem is not a public purpose — running an office with high morale is in fact vital for the functioning of a public service. You may as well complain if the library provides it’s workers chairs and air conditioning.

    Again, find me a single example of a court finding that the purchase of basic goods for the office constitutes a “private” purpose.

    • Since Illinois is a Dillon’s Rule state, I will challenge you to find one single example of a court finding that Gourmet Jelly Donuts for staff members to feed their faces are a public purpose.

      • Yeah, that isn’t how Dillon’s rule works. It says that the local government can only do that which is prescribed, it does not say that all possible interpretations of the prescribed power are invalid until challenged and upheld in court. The public library certainly has the pierp to hire professionals and give them materials needed to do their job well. Refreshments are a perfectly reasonable thing to provide employees that you wish to do good work.

        Unless you want a “beatings will continue until morale improves” approach to government.

        • Private employers can provide all the refreshments they want. Public bodies cannot. Where does it state, in the Public Library District Act, that they can provide Gourmet Jelly Doughnuts, or any other food to employees? Desks, tables, chairs, paper, etc are a necessary and indispensable part of the work of office employees, jelly doughnuts are not.

          • As it happens, the public library act states: “Every library established under this Act shall be forever for the use of the residents and taxpayers of the city, village, incorporated town or township where located, subject to such reasonable rules and regulations as the library board may adopt in order to render the use of the library of the greatest benefit to the greatest number of such residents and taxpayers.”

            Thus the governance of local libraries is delegated to library boards, provided their rules and regulations are reasonable.

            Orland Park’s library board has three guiding principles including:

            “3. The maintenance and development of adequate facilities and personnel to
            accomplish the first two goals.”

            Providing a pleasant work environment for the library personnel is an obvious way to help maintain and develop the staff — forcing public employees to endure some ascetic ideal for the sake of a few dollars would hardly hello develop a staff capable of accomplishing the library’s goals.

            So if the library board has regulations that have been violated here, please, feel free to cite them. But as far as I can tell this is a perfectly reasonable use of public funds.

            And, again, even were this some kind of violation, the bizarre frothing at the booth in the article is ridiculous.

          • keep grasping at straws, it won’t work. jelly doughnuts are not a public purpose unless Elvis is giving a benefit concert at the county animal shelter.

          • So, you have no awesomeness except to stick your fingers in your ears and say “NUH UH!” Okay, enjoy your pointless outrage.

          • By my use of the terms “necessary and indispensable” along with “Dillon’s Rule” I was hoping you would google those phrases and figure it out for yourself.

          • The problem is that you apparently don’t have the reading comprehension necessary to actually understand Dillon’s rule. “Necessary and indispensable” refers to the powers of the local government, not to *any specific application of those powers.*

            You could easily go through a public library and ask of every book, “Is this book necessary and indispensable?” Well, of course the vast majority of books are not, a library can function quite well without any given book. Similarly, Staples, liquid paper, and highlighters are not indispensable, they’re convenient.

            So it would be inane beyond belief to suggest that every specific purchase made by the local government must be strictly necessary. But the power itself to have a library office and staff it with personnel and attract quality staff and encourage and assist them to do good work is absolutely necessary to the functioning of the library.

  2. Stephen Eldridge – How about you show us where the law gives such power? You want a negative proven and that is not how our laws work. Good try though.

    • You claimed “Those interpretations, as well as our constitution, say such action is not within the authority of the public body.”

      I’m simply asking you to support that claim. You seemed suckeds by my ignorance, so surely such evidence isn’t hard to find — unless you were just prattling about the jaw to sound impressive despite knowing nothing at all about it.

      • Go read Article VIII section 1 of our State Constitution then research how that has been applied. searching our web site will pull up numerous cases where it was applied by the courts.

    • That isn’t what “proving a negative” means.

      You made a positive claim that this behavior is barred by courts’ interpretation of the law. Can you back that claim up, or are you just spouting nonsense trying to sound authoritative?

  3. You’d have to be some kind of psycho to give half a rat’s behind about this. I don’t think I’ve ever had a job where the company didn’t occasionally spring for treats. What’s next, a hard-hitting expose that they have a Christmas party? Untwist your knickers, man.

    • Nothing wrong with a private company doing it – everything wrong with a government body using your/my tax money to do it.

      • Sorry, I think that’s silly. Government employees shouldn’t be consigned to drudgery, they should be treated by the same standard other employees are. Who’s going to work for the government if it means penny-pinching drudgery? Making government jobs appealing means getting better candidates, means a government that functions better.

        And even if you disagree, the vitriol in this post is pathological. We’re talking about donuts, even if the writer thinks it’s a bad decision, the over the top attacks are laughable.

        • And you are an example of what is wrong across this state as it relates to being “properly” informed. Our courts interpret our laws and their application. Those interpretations, as well as our constitution, say such action is not within the authority of the public body. While you may “feel” its ok, feelings have nothing to do with application of the law when it comes to spending taxpayer money.

          • Uh huh. Why don’t you show me the ruling that says the director of a public agency can’t use part of their operating budget to provide refreshments for employees at meetings.

  4. As a former employee, I can tell you library staff can careless if the paczki are brought in or not. The donuts are put in the staff lounge and cut in pieces after Mary and her people behind the administration second floor door pick through and put away the full size donuts they want.

  5. This may be the most petty complaint ever lodged. Also, why not Costco? Maybe a policy to support local businesses.

  6. The pączki look like a taxable work (“fringe”) benefit to me. Does the library director’s W-2 show the value of the pączki and doughnuts she ate last year under “fringe?”

    • This is a great question. What Mary Weimar is doing is clear: she wants these nearly $2/a piece donuts but does not want to buy them. So she uses library funds to buy them so she can have them. It’s a personal preference for her. Why not just get jelly donuts from Costco that are much less expensive? Why does it always have to be the Orland Park Bakery’s donuts? The other thing I wonder is if Mary Weimar is friends with the people who own that bakery and just wants to give them the business and public money. Why not get the cheapest donuts possible if donuts are really needed at all?

  7. Hiding from the public that after years you still facilitate child p0rnography viewing and you still have a homophobic elected library board member can be very taxing. Donuts helps make that work easier. Oh excuse me, paczkis. You are not trying to deprive them of the calories needed to violate the law and spread homophobic hate, are you?

    I’ve been tweeting about this. Unbelievable. Just like the wasteful spending continues, so does the child p0rn facilitation and the homophobia.

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