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Government

Judge to decide Sept. 21 on Downers Grove library trustee's future

A DuPage County judge is expected to decide Sept. 21 if the Downers Grove Village Council has the authority to remove Arthur Jaros from the library board.
A DuPage County judge is expected to decide Sept. 21 if the Downers Grove Village Council has the authority to remove Arthur Jaros from the library board.

DOWNERS GROVE – A DuPage County judge is expected to decide Sept. 21 if the Downers Grove Village Council has the authority to remove Arthur Jaros from the library board.

“We’ll be back in court at 1:30 p.m. for his ruling from the bench,” Jaros said shortly after a Sept. 19 hearing before Judge Paul Fullerton. Jaros represented himself during the 90-minute hearing.

The crux of the argument is whether the Village Council had the right to remove Jaros from the Downers Grove Public Library Board of Trustees following controversial comments he reportedly made at the board's Aug. 23 meeting.

“The [Village Council] claims they can do what they want,” Jaros said.

However, the Illinois Constitution states the village cannot “interfere in matters not of their own government,” he said.

Only the library board has the authority remove a member, Jaros said.

“There’s two different governments. When [the village] tries to remove a library trustee, that’s not part of their affairs,” he said.

Library trustees are appointed by the mayor, but the board acts independently of the village.

“The village is looking forward to the judge’s decision on Thursday,” said Doug Kozlowski, the village's director of communications.

Downers Grove commissioners on Sept. 5 voted 6-0 to remove Jaros from the board.

The vote was greeted by applause from several members of a packed audience, many who voiced their concerns about Jaros’s presence on the board.

The library board will meet Sept. 27. Approval of the minutes from the Aug. 23 meeting is expected to be on the agenda.

The village has agreed not to fill Jaros's seat pending the hearing.

Downers Grove Public Library attorney Dennis Walsh previously issued an opinion stating the village’s home-rule status does not give it the authority to remove a library board member.

Jaros also has filed a lawsuit against the village, Mayor Martin 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 the 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 of Downers Grove, Woodridge and Lisle. 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 reportedly 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," referring to a comment in the notes about "white straight people."

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