The Crawford County Quorum Court voted Tuesday night to approve spending more than $40,000 in exchange for the resignation of a librarian who refused to ban books.

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The vote in Van Buren to ignore the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and approve a Separation Agreement with Deidre Grzymala was unanimous and in response to a right-wing wave of criticism from a supposedly spiritual group whose mascot is a lion.

While the alleged reason for the buyout was that Grzymala had overspent library funds, an employee of the treasurer’s office reminded the justices of the peace that the practice had been going on for years, well before Grzymala became the country’s library director in July 2022.

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The county’s attorney, Gentry Wahlmeier, interrupted the speaker to say she shouldn’t be releasing information obtained as a result of her work in the treasurer’s office. The woman then quit speaking. Hmmm. Treasurer’s records are public information, whether Crawford County politicians like it or not.

The point was, of course, that the real reason Grzymala was fired was not financial. That was gaslighting to distract from the truth: book banning.

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The problem was that Grzymala respected all library patrons, even those of the LGBTQ community so she offered books they too wanted to read. That did not go over well with the new library board chairman, Tammi Hamby, or the frankly scary River Valley City Elders, the organization with the mascot lion and a claim that the group’s “watchmen” spiritually govern the gates of the valley’s cities.

The separation agreement presented to the Quorum Court Tuesday night will pay Grzymala $40,687.50 from county funds. That includes personal and sick-leave payments. The county also will approve her health and dental benefit premiums through Sept. 1.

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Grzymala has previously declined comment, and the separation agreement strictly limits what she can say publicly.

The county’s library board has called a meeting for 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Van Buren library to discuss the appointment of an interim director. We can be sure that person will know not to feature a single book the “elders” dislike, though I suspect titillating heterosexual romance novels are fine.

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In March, the board is to consider a proposal that it review the purchase and donation of all library books. We’ll follow up then.

 

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