February 17, 2018

Irvin Mayfield, Ronald Markham Charged in NOPL Fund Mismanagement

Irvin Mayfield, a jazz trumpet virtuoso and at one time a leading figure in the city’s library community before being dogged by scandal, pleaded not guilty in federal court on January 4 to charges listed in a 19-count indictment that alleged he used $1.4 million of New Orleans Public Library (NOPL) money for personal gain. Acting U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced the indictments in December 2017, and also appeared in court to represent the Eastern District of Louisiana.

New Orleans Library Foundation Board Members Resign in Funding Scandal

Only days after a definitive victory at the polls, the New Orleans library landscape was making news again—but this time it was the Foundation, not the library itself, and the news was not good. On May 5, an investigative report by correspondent David Hammer for local New Orleans station WWL-TV revealed that between 2012 and 2013 Irvin Mayfield and Ronald Markham, who then served on the board of the New Orleans Public Library (NOPL) Foundation as chair and president, respectively, gave the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO) at least $863,000 in funding originally made to the NOPL Foundation. At that time both Mayfield and Markham were also drawing annual salaries of $100,000 apiece from the nonprofit NOJO, Mayfield as its founder and artistic director and Markham as president and CEO.

Charles Brown: Navigating the Headlines

When Charles Brown took over the directorship of the New Orleans Public Library (NOPL) in November 2011, the library system, like the city, was still struggling to get back on its feet in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. A native of St. Louis, MO, Brown had previously served as director for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in Charlotte, NC, since 2007.

New Orleans Votes to Reinvest in Libraries

New Orleans voters went to the polls on May 2 and showed their love for their library system, approving a raise in property taxes that will add up to $8.2 million a year for the New Orleans Public Library (NOPL). A whopping 75 percent of voters approved—a margin of more than 9,000 votes. Starting in January 2016, the 25-year, 2.5-mill property tax increase will allow some branches to extend operating hours to seven days a week, and will help rebuild the 7th Ward’s Nora Navra Library, damaged in Hurricane Katrina.

NOLA Special Election To Decide: Increase Hours or Shutter Seven Branches?

New Orleans residents will go to the polls on May 2 to vote on a proposed new library millage which, if adopted, would pump an additional $8.25 million annually into a system that officials say is underfunded and barely holding the line on current services thanks to a reserve fund that will run dry in 2016.