Fired Detroit library deputy says she was scapegoat

Christine MacDonald
The Detroit News
  • In an email to staffers, the library director indicated staffing changes were cost cutting measure
  • The fired deputy director sued the library last summer alleging discrimination
  • Machie helped lead the library’s controversial South Wing expansion between 2007 and much of 2009.

Detroit — A fired deputy director of the Detroit Public Library railed against her dismissal late last week in an email to staffers, saying she’s a “scapegoat” for the scandal-plagued system.

“Like a battered and abused spouse, I loved DPL, but DPL did not love me back,” reads a Thursday email from Juliet Machie announcing her dismissal that day.

“I endured so much pain here. I’ve been made a scapegoat, and people who have hidden agendas as well as those who were busy defrauding the library vilified me in your eyes.”

Machie made about $143,000 and was involved in several spending controversies during her 14-year tenure. She sued the library in 2013 claiming she lost her bid to become director in 2009 because she’s from Nigeria. The suit is pending and library officials deny discrimination.

Her email does not specify who plotted against her — or how.

“I carried myself with dignity, hoping and praying that the truth would prevail. Unfortunately, the truth is still being covered up,” the email reads. “I hope you would remember me as someone who cared enough to stick their neck out, even at personal detriment. “

Library Director Jo Anne Mondowney and several library commissioners didn’t return calls for comment Tuesday.

Mondowney sent her own email to staffers on Monday indicating changes were prompted by cost cutting and she plans to hire a chief financial officer “in lieu of a Deputy Director.”

“The Detroit Public Library will undergo a reorganization of its Administrative positions in an effort to right size the organization consistent with staffing levels and the reduction in projected revenues,” the email reads.

Machie hung up on a reporter Tuesday and her attorney Benjamin Whitfield didn’t immediately return a call for comment.

Machie, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was running day-to-day operations before the commission hired Mondowney in August 2009. She alleges in her lawsuit two board members launched a campaign to block her from the top job, including one who singled out Machie's accent in a text message to another staffer.

Machie helped lead the library’s controversial South Wing expansion project between 2007 and much of 2009.

The project began as a $300,000 furniture update and morphed into a $2.3 million renovation. The library came under fire after The News reported it bought 20 lounge chairs for $1,100 apiece at a time it was cutting staff and considering closing buildings. Machie has said she never authorized the purchase of the chairs.

Her firing is the latest scandal for the system. This month, the former chief administrative and technology officer Timothy Cromer was sentenced to 10 years in prison for a $1.5 million kickback scheme.