Carmel mayor: City liable in Palladium CEO allegations

Steve Libman

CARMEL - The mayor of Carmel says the city could be on the hook with a discrimination claim because of the alleged doings of former Carmel Palladium CEO Steven Libman.

Libman suddenly resigned last month. Now controversy surrounds his exit, including allegations that he used public money to pursue an affair with his assistant.

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard says it was a story in a local magazine that prompted him to hire a private investigator to look into explosive allegations involving his hand-picked president and CEO of the Center For The Performing Arts.

"Mr. Libman was having a romantic relationship with his assistant which creates a huge liability under Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rules and it appeared that taxpayer money that had been granted to the foundation was misused for travel," said the mayor.

The 51-year-old Libman, who is married, resigned at the end of July, two months after signing a five-year contract extension with the Arts Center foundation. Brainard says he presented board members with the allegations and that Libman was told to resign or be fired.

The city funds nearly $2 million toward operations of the center. Brainard says he doesn't know how much money allegedly went toward Libman's relationship with his assistant, but that money was spent on hotels, meals, airfare and shows.

Eyewitness News obtained the center's tax return from 2009-2010 which shows that over $54,000 was spent on travel.

But some members of the Carmel City Council suggest that Libman's departure wasn't motivated by an alleged affair with an assistant but instead, became a power struggle with the mayor over the funding and operations of the center for the performing arts.

City Council President Eric Seidensticker insists that even members of the Art Center Foundation don't believe that Libman misused funds.

"I'm trying to determine why the city chooses to get involved in some sort of investigation and for what purpose," said Seidensticker.

The fear among the center's many supporters is that the controversy and allegations will only end up hurting fundraising and support for the $175 million arts center.

The arts center is conducting an audit to look for any irregularities. Libman did not return our calls for comment on the allegations.