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Government

Former Downers Grove library trustee asks court to reverse Village Council decision

Arthur Jaros argues village has no authority to remove him from board

Arthur Jaros will appear in DuPage County Court on Sept. 19 to seek reversal of the Downers Grove Village Council’s decision to remove him from the library board following comments he reportedly made about homosexuality at an August meeting.
Arthur Jaros will appear in DuPage County Court on Sept. 19 to seek reversal of the Downers Grove Village Council’s decision to remove him from the library board following comments he reportedly made about homosexuality at an August meeting.

DOWNERS GROVE – Arthur Jaros will appear in DuPage County Court on Sept. 19 to seek reversal of the Downers Grove Village Council’s decision to remove him from the library board following comments he reportedly made about homosexuality at an August meeting.

Jaros will go before Judge Paul Fullerton at 9:30 a.m., requesting a preliminary injunction to prevent his removal from the board.

Village commissioners on Sept. 5 voted 6-0 to remove Jaros from the Downers Grove Public Library Board of Trustees. Commissioner William Waldack was absent from the meeting. The vote followed comments from several members of a packed audience, who applauded after the decision.

The village has agreed not to fill Jaros's seat pending the hearing. Library trustees are appointed by the mayor, but the board acts independently of the village.

Jaros said the village does not have the power to remove library board members.

The library's attorney, Dennis Walsh, has issued an opinion stating the village’s home-rule status does not give it the authority to remove a library trustee.

“That’s the system we have,” Jaros said, adding only the library board can vote to remove a member under specific circumstances.

Downers Grove Mayor Martin Tully had appointed Jaros, a tax attorney, to a six-year term on the library board amid controversy.

Jaros was labeled a “book banner” by residents who recalled a 1999 incident in which he allegedly was a member of a group that tried to ban a book from a Community High School District 99 school.

Tully said he appointed Jaros because of the budget and finance knowledge he displayed as a member of the Downers Grove Park District Board of Commissioners, and he said he asked him not to be “a lightning rod for controversy.”

Jaros denied he agreed to Tully's request.

"To the best of my recollection, that topic was never discussed," he said.

Jaros has filed a lawsuit against the village, Tully, two village commissioners and the League of Women Voters of Downers Grove, Woodridge and Lisle, alleging defamation of character.

Jaros, a library board member since 2015, allegedly questioned why library staff required training in equity, diversity or inclusion during an Aug. 23 board meeting. His comments came during a discussion of the diversity component of the library’s strategic plan.

The meeting was not recorded, but observer notes were taken by Sue Farley, a member of the League of Women Voters. Farley also is named in Jaros’s lawsuit.

“He stated he objected to staff, who would be around children, receiving any training in how to handle inclusion,” Farley’s notes stated.

Jaros also read from the sex education section of the Illinois School Code, according to the notes.

“He personally commented that the code he read did not recognize homosexual marriage and he felt the library must not either,” the notes stated. “The staff had to protect the children from homosexuals and exposure to homosexual lifestyle.”

Jaros called the notes “false and defamatory."

“The defamatory statement is that I was accused of having made a racially derogatory statement,” he said, referring to a comment in the notes about "white straight people." "That accusation is a lie."

Jaros attended the Sept. 5 Village Council meeting but did not address commissioners. However, his wife, Claire, criticized her husband’s opponents for their inability to tolerate someone who disagrees with them.

“Diversity exists on both sides of the aisle,” she said.

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