July 21, 2010; Source: Philadelphia Daily News | Let’s hope city officials are as persistent in clawing back several hundred thousand dollars in bonuses paid to the head of the Free Library of Philadelphia as his supporters were about getting him money that it now appears he never should have received. The problem, according to a finding from an audit by City Controller Alan Butkovitz, is that Eliot Shelkrot received $236,535 in bonuses from the Free Library Fund—the private group that raises money for the library—while he was serving as both director of the library and president of the foundation.

“City and state laws clearly prohibit city employees from accepting bonus payments from any fund or charity for conducting business in which they already receive a salary from the city,” said Butkovitz. Shelkrot, who retired two years ago, received the bonus payments from 2001 to 2008. The foundation began paying the bonus to Shelkrot after the Free Library board was unable to get him a raise in 2000.

Despite the prohibition against such compensation to a city employee from a private group, the foundation felt Shelkrot deserved it and they were determined to pay it to him. The big question facing the city now is whether Shelkrot will pay back the money, as the controller has said he must do.—Bruce Trachtenberg