By Mike Weland
With “closed until further notice” posted on its website, the Boundary County Library board will meet in special session in the old armory building at 10:30 a.m. Monday to hold executive session on issues that appear far more serious than is being let on.
The first item on the agenda is to go into executive session, closed to the public, to “communicate with legal counsel for the library to discuss the legal ramifications of and legal options for controversies not yet being litigated but imminently likely to be litigated,” and it comes after a well-documented chain of correspondence with an employee and former board secretary attempting to make the board aware of serious issues dating as far back as September, 2019.
Dana Boiler, who grew up in Bonners Ferry, graduated BFHS in 1999, began working at the library in December, 2019, returning from Oregon, where she had earned her degree, fell in love with and married her husband, Jeff, and spent around 20 years as paralegal in his law practice.
After Jeff retired in 2017, they moved to Bonners Ferry to raise their two children, both in their early teens, and, as Dana said, to “do what I like to do for a change!”
On September 27, Dana submitted a letter to then-director Craig Anderson telling him of troubling behavior by patron Corbin Waltering, a man with a history of questionable behavior who’d been, she said, using the library as “headquarters” for a militia group he was affiliated with, “Freedom Guard.”
According to Dana, he hung posters for the group in the basement, the children’s area, used the library computers to research militia material, openly watching disturbing videos and by turn laughing or cursing, used library phones and fax to contact other militia groups, going so far as attempting to enter the office to take calls, and approaching patrons trying to interest them in joining his group.
When told that Waltering, who listed himself as a Major General Confederate Idaho Army 7 February 2020 to present on Facebook before shutting his page down and starting a new one, had accosted several employees in the city parking lot after closing, she wrote the letter conveying her and other staff members’ concerns.
Anderson, she said, told her he’d taken action, calling Waltering’s mother. Speaking to her later, Waltering’s mother said she’d never been contacted.
Waltering wasn’t the only questionable library patron.
“Craig meant well,” Dana said, “but he was in over his head and had a tendency to open his arms to such people, thinking he could change them.”
Calling on her legal background, she said she attempted to advocate for aggrieved employees by making Anderson aware of possible violations of federal Family and Leave Act (FMLA) rules after fellow employees were allegedly disciplined or threatened with firing after returning from sick leave, of the inappropriateness of denying employees the ability to contact or communicate with board members without reprisal, and other issues, some criminal.
“He had very little knowledge of state or federal regulations governing the operation of taxpayer-supported public entity,” she said, “and he didn’t seem to want to learn. It wasn’t just incompetence, but what I call ‘willful blindness.’ He didn’t want to know.”
For the year she served as board secretary, she “walked on water,” Dana said, but that abruptly changed, she said, when she stood up for an employee who was threatened with being fired for exercising rights under FMLA.
“I was looked at as a whistleblower after that and sent to the basement,” she said.
After the announcement of Craig’s impending early retirement, on February 2, 2021, Dana hand delivered board members her application for the position of library director, to include several letters in support.
“I realize the board is considering a broad out-of-area search for library director,” she wrote. “I respectfully request that the Board consider the applications of any existing Library employees prior to incurring the delay and cost … All things considered, this course seems most likely to address the special needs of our community library, when time and cost-effective prompt action on this hiring decision seems to be of the essence.”
Rather than merely a summary of her qualifications, her application disclosed a “crisis of management.”
“Although not addressed here in detail,” she wrote, “the Board must be informed that a series of very serious issues of both fairness and legal liability for the Board and its individual members have arisen as a result of certain actions by the current director. I myself and other staff have confronted the director with those issues, and he has admitted wrongdoing.”
He promised staff, she wrote, to make full disclosure to the board regarding allegations of mismanagement of payroll, noncompliance, lack of knowledge of applicable wage, hour, open meeting and other aspects of library law, interruption of library operations to conceal his own acts and omissions and retaliatory conduct toward employees without knowledge of controlling facts or applicable law.
“We have delayed as a group coming to you because we have been kept from comment on the record and discouraged actively from attending your meetings,” she wrote. “One of the most constructive and responsible decision you can make to begin the process of restoring this library to its 2017 status as ‘The Best Small Library in America” is to face the truth head on and to make choices about this process based on the best interests of the community we serve, the staff that makers it happen daily and the tax payeres who fund it.”
Frustrated by the wall of silence from the board, in February, Dana sent a letter to the Idaho Commission for Libraries; at their recommendation, she sent a letter outlining the allegations to officials at Idaho Counties Risk Management Program (ICRMP), which, Dana said, is actively investigating the claims.
On March 17, Dana received the first response from a library board member since she’d been board secretary.
“I appreciate the exhaustive amount of information you have provided me,” Zone 3 board member Aaron Bohachek wrote. “… since there are conflicting reports from the many distinct sides of this issue, no single board member can unilaterally decide on a course of action nor do we discuss the issues at hand outside of our meetings due to Idaho open meeting law … I appreciate your frustration but I hope you realize that the public smear campaign that is already underway complicates the matter greatly.”
At the end of March, the library board announced Craig’s retirement, effective April 31, and the return of former director Sandy Ashworth, coming out of retirement to help as a consultant in the transition process, and to identify problems and provide solutions in the library’s management.
Derrick Grow, formerly the library’s IT director, was appointed interim director and one of his first actions, Dana said, was to fire her, without lawful grounds or success.
It wasn’t just legal violations that drew Dana’s concern, but safety issues far beyond any that should exist in a public library.
As in most businesses, employees are issued keys to the building. But at the Boundary County Library, Dana said, no one asks that keys be returned, and several present and former employees were known to slip in overnight, some even spending nights there.
On March 27, Dana found a link while on Facebook of a group administered by a fellow employee, “Library Strippers.” To her shock, her daughter, then 13, had been added as a “friend” in June, 2020, and for four succeeding months been sent salacious videos of that employee in panties and bra gyrating on a stripper pole, allegedly installed in her off grid home by Derrick Grow.
The salacious videos, backed by a throbbing song laden with sexually suggestive lyrics bordering on if not crossing the line into pornography, had been uploaded from library computers, Dana said.
Dana’s husband, Jeff, a U.S. Marine veteran, former peace officer and attorney licensed to practice in Oregon and Idaho, had long tried with his wife to make the board and ICRMP aware of the many issues and had taken it upon himself to be at the library at closing time to escort employees to their cars, only to be called a security risk himself and be reported to police, had reached his limit.
“A library employee has transmitted explicit visual and audio material to my daughter directly, and without the knowledge or consent of my wife or I,” he wrote to library counsel Tim Wilson and to ICRMP. “For safety reasons and to satisfy our mutual child abuse reporting duties … I must demand that you take immediate action. Child safety is at issue and our family cannot be expected to voluntarily absent ourselves while the board waits to do something.”
His demand for the immediate termination of the employee in the video, interim director Derrick Grow and volunteer consultant Sandy Ashworth has not been acceded to, but his complaint went to Boundary County Prosecutor Andrakay Pluid and Jeff and Dana were told it was being referred to the Idaho State Police for investigation.
“I waited until last week to contact ISP about status, and learned on Friday from an ISP investigator that his office had no record of the referral,” Jeff said. “This means someone in the chain between my complaint to Wilson and my conversation with the county prosecutor a week later, someone in law enforcement locally led the county prosecutor to believe the case had been referred to ISP, which she relayed to me on the phone. That means someone is hiding the complaint from law enforcement at ISP.”
While some accuse the family of stirring trouble and attempting to profit through a lawsuit, Jeff points out that they have not filed a claim and hope they don’t have to seek recourse in a courtroom.
“We have what we need,” Jeff said. “Dana loves this community and its library. In this situation, honesty is best, but there certainly appears a continued pattern of of attempting to hide dishonesty. We aren’t here to destroy reputations or bankrupt anything — we simply want the truth out in the open and the library restored to what it was and still can be; the Best Small Library in America.”