My first experience with an angry mob

Jessica Lewis

Sure they didn’t have torches or pitchforks, but after hearing a few choice comments from the members of the public gathered at the Guernsey Memorial Library on Thursday night, it wasn’t difficult to imagine them as the angry mob that always seems to form at the end of a classic horror movie. 


The crowd of approximately 40 people was gathered for last night’s library board meeting. I understand their anger. The State Comptroller’s office released the results of an audit that found Director Melanie Battoe had $15,000 in questionable purchases, many of which she tried to justify at Thursday night’s  meeting, however her explanations did little to appease the angry crowd. I expected to hear some tough questions. I expected to hear some people demanding to know whether or not the director would be fired. I did not however expect to see a police presence on hand to control some rowdy individuals. The shouting and angry accusations didn’t quite seem to fit in a building where I was always taught to use my indoor voice. 


Actually, I heard a lot of choice items I didn’t expect. I definitely didn’t expect to hear people shouting that the library director should be taken away in shackles or lynched, but I heard both suggestions. Personally, if I had been on the board, I probably would have thrown some people out, but the board did their best to listen to all of the shouting, questions and complaints. They even listened to one complaint so out of place that I thought it must be a practical joke. The gentleman who was speaking however seemed anything but jovial. 


Yes there were some questions about where some money was spent, and about conflicts of interest with Battoe’s husband handling the library’s computer service and there were comments on the status of employer-employee issues that have been going on for some time. But when one member of the community became irate because Battoe had barred him from the computers for looking at obscene web sites, I have to say, I’m not the only one who seemed a bit surprised. 


I guess everyone has their own priorities, and in this instance, everyone is going to form their own opinions, but I hope we as a community will be intelligent enough to drop the mentality of an angry mob, put down the pitchforks and start looking for ways to ensure this type of oversight doesn’t happen again.