Why Is New York City Planning to Sell and Shrink Its Libraries?

Defend our libraries, don't defund them. . . . . fund 'em, don't plunder 'em

Mayor Bloomberg defunded New York libraries at a time of increasing public use, population growth and increased city wealth, shrinking our library system to create real estate deals for wealthy real estate developers at a time of cutbacks in education and escalating disparities in opportunity. It’s an unjust and shortsighted plan that will ultimately hurt New York City’s economy and competitiveness.

It should NOT be adopted by those we have now elected to pursue better policies.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Citizens Defending Libraries Main Page

Defend our libraries, don't defund them. . . . .  fund 'em, don't plunder 'em 

SIGN OUR PETITION TO SUPPORT LIBRARIES:  Sign our new updated petition here:
Mayor de Blasio: Rescue Our Libraries from Developer Destruction
You can also stay informed by following us on Twitter (@DefendLibraries) and by liking our Citizens Defending Libraries Facebook page. And we post videos on our Citizens Defending Libraries YouTube Channel.
When We Started and Why

Citizens Defending Libraries was founded in February of 2013 in response to then breaking headlines about how, across the city, our public libraries were proposed to be sold and shrunk at great public loss, with libraries being intentionally underfunded, their books and librarians eliminated.  Citizens Defending Libraries was first to point out how the the real estate industry's interest in turning libraries into real estate deals was driving such sales and the reduction of funding and library resources.

Achievements

Citizens Defending Libraries has had a number of significant successes fending off and preventing library sale and shrinkages and there has been some progress towards restoration of the funding of libraries to a proper pre-library-sales plan level of proper funding.  These successes include: 
    •    The sale of Mid-Manhattan, the most used circulating library in Manhattan, was prevented with the help of two lawsuits in which Citizens Defending Libraries was first in the list of named plaintiffs.  That sale was prevented as Citizens Defending Libraries joined with others to successfully derail the New York Public Library’s ill-conceived consolidating shrinkage of major Manhattan libraries known as the Central Library Plan.  Citizens Defending Libraries accurately predicted this sell-off and shrinkage of libraries was likely to cost over $500 million, far more than the $300 advertised by the NYPL as it promoted its real estate deals.  Unfortunately, work remains to be done as aspects of the Central Library Plan still ominously survive:
    •        The NYPL still plans to sell and close the largest science library in New York City, SIBL, the Science Industry and Business Library, eliminating its collection of science books just when they are needed most,
    •        Millions of additional books are still missing from and need to be brought back to the 42nd Street Central Reference Library at Fifth Avenue (yes that's the building with the lions, Patience and Fortitude).
    •        The NYPL still plans to subject the Mid-Manhattan Library to a consolidating shrinkage with a concomitantly vast reduction in available books.
    •    The sale and closing of another beloved central destination in Manhattan, the 5-story Donnell Library is now widely understood to have been a mistake. Library administration officials now apologize acknowledging it was a significant mistake, but that is only so long as we keep reminding the public what was lost and how the library was sold for a pittance, while real estate industry insiders like Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner benefitted from this first “shrink-and-sink” deal by replacing it with luxury tower, a tiny underground and largely bookless library in its base.
    •    Working with others in the community, we have so far prevented the sale the Pacific Branch Library, the first Carnegie in Brooklyn, next to Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards megadevelopment (now aka “Pacific Park”), which in 2013 the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) announced was one of its two highest priorities to sell as it launched a program of real estate deal sell-offs.
    •    For almost four years, from 2013 to 2017, we delayed and fended off the sale and destruction of Brooklyn’s second biggest library, the central destination Brooklyn Heights Library, which included the central Business Career and Education Library and a now shuttered Federal Depository Library making federal documents, records, and history available to the public.  This was another “shrink-and-sink” sale of property, also next to (and involving) Forest City Ratner property was the BPL’s other first announced highest priority.  Again, a luxury tower will stand where an important central destination library once stood.  Garnering over 2,000 testimonies from the community we surprised everybody by causing Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams to come out against the project after it was launched.  It was also reportedly the subject of a “play-to-play” investigation with respect to the development team that was an inferior bidder channeling funds to Mayor de Blasio.  That investigation appears to have been dropped immediately after Donald Trump stunned the public by firing U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
    •    We alerted the public and Red Hook community about “Spaceworks,” a real estate company formed Mayor Bloomberg’s administration to shrink libraries viewing library space as being under utilized we helped to prevent the already woefully small 7,500 square foot Red Hook library from being shrunk down to just 5,500 square feet.  Brooklyn Community Board 6 helped kill the shrinkage.  (While we also worked to get the word out to the Williamsburg community about a proposed shrinkage there with Spaceworks being handed the second floor of the Williamsburg Library, we were not able to act fast enough and Councilman Steve Levin and Brooklyn Community Board 1 were supporting the scheme.)
     •    We alerted the Sunset Park community about long-secret plans to sell the Sunset Park Library and redevelop it into a mixed used project.  We believe that because we were on the scene to shine this spotlight, and also because the BPL wanted to overcome our opposition to the Brooklyn Heights Library sale, Sunset park is the first time the BPL actually proposed to enlarge one of the the libraries it was targeting for sale.  That will be a sort of victory if there is no subsequent bait-and-switch.  Unfortunately, it is not a perfect victory.  Our sense is that for good and valid reasons the informed Sunset Park community was still largely, perhaps 90%, opposed to the library replacement plan they were not involved in developing and from which they will suffer while the library is closed for many years before it is replaced.  Unfortunately, those who were in place to fight for the Sunset Park community’s interests did not ultimately defend them.  That includes Brooklyn Community Board 7 and City Councilman Carlos Menchaca.
     •    Citizens Defending Libraries was also on the scene to shine a spotlight and help put things quickly in perspective for the Inwood Community when the NYPL announced it wanted to turn the Inwood Library into a real estate deal, likely also as a part of an effort to help push through a upzoning of the area.
     •    Citizens Defending Libraries similarly sounded the alarm before word was out publicly about a proposal for a consolidating shrinkage of the Brower Park Library with the Prospect Heights Children’s Museum (reversing a previous expansion).
     •    Citizens Defending Libraries has been engaged in an education and publicity campaign.  It included:
     •        Forums, including a mayor forum during the 2013 election with most of the candidates endorsing our proposals that libraries be properly funded, not sold and shrunk.  Mayor de Blasio, whose position we changed during the campaign, joined with us in July to proclaim that our libraries should not be sold saying: “It's public land and public facilities and public value under threat. . . and once again we see, lurking right behind the curtain, real estate developers who are very anxious to get their hands on these valuable properties.”  Unfortunately, by October he was taking money from developers behind the curtain.
        •    As a result of our activism there have been hearings about the sale and shrinkage of libraries starting with a very important June 27, 2013 New York State Assembly hearing that embarrassed city library administration officials. 
       •    A letter of support signed by multiple community organizations, electeds and candidates running for office.
        •   In May of 2016 Citizens Dfending Libraries was honored to be a recipient of the Historic Districts Council's Grassroots Preservation Award.
Despite our battles won, our NYC libraries are still besieged by a major war and the threat of such plans.

What libraries are affected?
Library officials said early on that they wanted to sell the most valuable NYC libraries first.  And indeed, that is exactly what the NYPL did when its first move was to sell the central destination Donnell Library, a library that was documented to be on most valuable block in Manhattan at the time.  Similarly, the concurrently launched Central Library Plan with its proposed sale of the Mid-Manhattan Library focused on the choicest real estate.  The BPL did the same thing prioritizing two prime site libraries adjacent to Forest City Ratner property for probable luxury towers, the Brooklyn Heights Library and the Pacific Branch library.  Unfortunately, the libraries that are most valuable to real estate developers are also the most valuable to the public for very similar reasons, including central accessible locations.

The most valuable libraries may be at the top of this list, but all libraries in the New York City system are currently under siege.  All libraries are under siege because of the deliberate, unprecedented and absolutely unnecessary underfunding of NYC libraries that is being presented as an excuse to sell libraries affects all libraries in all our city's boroughs.

All libraries in the New York City system should also be considered currently under siege because each and every library sale becomes precedent and a model for the next.  The shrink-and-sink sale of the Brooklyn Heights Library replicates the shrink-and-sink Donnell Library (in fact it was conceived at the same time with the same people in the background).  Moreover, BPL president Linda Johnson told the City Council when it was approving the shrink-and-sink Brooklyn Heights Library sale that it would be a model for future library deals by all three city library systems, the BPL, which she heads, the NYPL and the Queens Library.  Johnson has referred to herself as head of the Brooklyn Library system as having "over 1,000,000 square feet of real estate" at her disposal.

While Library officials are attracted to seizing for conversion the most valuable libraries first, they are also usually tactically coy about their plans. At this point they openly acknowledge going after only a few libraries at a time.  They go after the very valuable ones they want and they also go after the libraries where they believe they have ascertained that they can overcome community opposition and expect that they can, at the same time, perhaps achieve another objective that attracts them, like laying the groundwork for an upzoning in Inwood or establish and entrench a principle of reduction as with Spaceworks in Red Hook and Williamsburg.

For more details about affected libraries click here:  What Libraries Are Affected By City Strategy Of Defunding, Shrinking, Selling Off Libraries?

Are The Libraries Being Shrunk, Pushed Underground, Books and Librarians Eliminated Because the World Is "Going Digital"?

Although the people promoting library sales and elimination of books would like to use as an excuse that the world is going digital, that is not the case.  New York City libraries are more used than ever.  Although use was up 40% programmatically, most of the recent increased use is in terms of circulation, 59%, and almost all of that circulation is physical books.  That is despite an effort by NYC library administration officials to steer people into the use of digital books (which, maybe surprisingly, are actually more expensive for the libraries) and away from what they derisively refer to as "old-fashioned analogue books."

While digital books sometimes have some advantages the general population tends to prefer physical books.  Further, there are advantages with physical books related to the way people learn and think and there are problems and concerns about digital books that need to be considered.  See:  Physical Books vs. Digital Books.

At the same time, libraries do need to address digital needs and provide access to the internet; they need to help bridge the so-called "digital divide" between those who have ready access to computers and the internet and those who don't.  For that reason libraries should actually be growing to address these expanded needs rather than shrinking.  In this regard it is, indefensible and inexplicable that two top-notch libraries with some of the most advanced and robust support of computer and internet libraries, SIBL the 34th Street Science, Industry and Business Library and the downtown Brooklyn Heights Library with its Business, Career and Education Library, were both targeted for simultaneous elimination.

Are Libraries Just Too Expensive a Luxury to Pay For?

In the overall scheme of things, New York City libraries cost virtually nothing.  When it comes to libraries, no matter how you slice and dice it, we are dealing with total funding figures that come to fractions of a percentage point, this despite the fact that, economically, libraries more than pay for themselves, and: “More people visited public libraries in New York than every major sports team and every major cultural institution combined.”

Notwithstanding, subsidies to sports venues like the Ratner/Prokhorov “Barclays” arena dwarf what we spend on libraries. In 8 years when we spent at least $620 million on just three sports arenas, (the Ratner/Prokhorov "Barclays" included) that amount was 1.37 times the amount spent on libraries serving seven times as many users.

The underfunding of libraries is notwithstanding that libraries are one of the public's top priorities. The city’s 59 community boards ranked library services as their“third highest budget concern” and“Brooklyn’s community boards ranked libraries their top priority.”  In 2013 when the NYC Comptroller polled the public about its priorities for "The People's Budget" libraries were again one of the very top priorities.

Valuable in so many ways in their own right, libraries must also be considered an essential adjunct to schools and ensuring proper education and literacy of the population.  One thing that a recurring trope in science fiction scripts gets right is that there is a high correspondence, if not quite one-to-one correlation, between the demise of great libraries and the collapse of once great civilizations.

NYC Libraries Are Being Sold For Huge Losses And For Minuscule Fractions of Their Value

People ask whether the public is at least getting good deals or "value" when we sell our libraries.  We absolutely are not.  We are selling our libraries for far less than their worth and far less than we have invested in them.  The losses are actually profoundly embarrassing notwithstanding the proclivity of library officials to deceptively characterize proceeds from sales as "profits," and as "hefty" rather than "paltry."  That's been true since the beginning. . .

. . .  The first library sold, the Donnell Library, the central destination, 97,000-square foot, five-story central destination library on what was documented to be the most valuable block in Manhattan at the time, was sold to net the NYPL less than $25,000 million.  The penthouse in the luxury tower that replaced it in the 50-story luxury tower replacing Donnell went on the market for $60 million.  Another single lower-level condo unit in the luxury building, 43A, sold for $20,110,437.50.  There is also a 114 guest room luxury hotel in the tower.  according to the Wall Street Journal, Chinese investors made that hotel,“the most highly valued hotel in the U.S.” after agreeing to buy it for “more than $230 million. . .  .more than $2 million a room.”

. . . The central destination Brooklyn Heights Library in Downtown Brooklyn, expanded and fully upgraded in 1993, one of the most modern and up-to-date libraries in the system would cost more than $120 million to replace.  The city sold it for less than its tear-down value, for less than its value as a vacant lot, and because it was sold to a developer who's inferior bid was not the highest bid, it's sale became the subject of one of the pay-to-play investigations of the de Blasio administration.  When costs are finally calculated it is likely the city and library administration officials will have netted less than $25 million from this library's ruination.

. . . In two suspicious real estate deals the NYPL has sold the 34th Street SIBL library, the city's biggest science library . . . . .

TO READ MORE- Click:  TO READ MORE- Click: Libraries Being Sold For Huge Losses And Minuscule Fractions of Their Value

Who Is Selling Our Libraries?

The plans to sell our libraries were announced under the Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration and it appears that they go back to at least 2005 and probably at least 2004.  Prior to the Bloomberg administration, NYC libraries were being expanded significantly under the Giuliani administration.  During the 2013 mayoral race, candidate Bill de Blasio said that the library sales should be halted, but in short order Mr. de Blasio was taking money from real estate developers "behind the curtain  . .very anxious to get their hands on these valuable properties.”

Once in office, Mayor Bill de Blasio continued with the library sales he decried as a candidate, although, to give the devil his due, de Blasio did not proceed with the full-blown NYPL Central Library Plan.  While the Mid-Manhattan library is now being subjected to a consolidating shrinkage it is no longer being sold straight out, but, under Mayor de Blasio we are still selling SIBL the city's biggest science library.  We are also still exiling research books off premises from where they were once readily and quickly retrievable at the 42nd Street Library.


There are other elected officials that are avidly taking the lead pushing these city library sales.  Foremost among them is city council member Brad Lander.  Also clearly conspicuous in his enthusiastic and unrelenting support for these plans is Jimmy Van Bramer head of the City Council Cultural Committee of which the city council's library subcommittee is a sub-component he domainates in leading.  .  .

 . .  Each particular local city council member must also be held responsible for what happens to the libraries in their districts, but revelations are that many of them, like Councilman Stephen Levin (Brooklyn Heights and Williamsburg libraries), Ydanis Rodriguez (Inwood Library) and Carlos Manchacca (Sunset Park Library), were brought on board behind the scenes in advance to  . . .

TO READ MORE (including about the involvement of a Trump presidential son-in-law, Blackstone's Steve Schwarzman, the library boards of trustees, law enforcing officials standing idly by the sidelines and what are supposed to be charitable organizations serving the public) - Click:  WHO Is Selling Our Libraries?

When Did The Plans To Sell Libraries (Plus The Launching of The Concomitant Underfunding of Libraries) Begin?
Chart from Center From an Urban Future report showing sharp decline in funding (coinciding with plans to sell off/"leverage" libraries) against escalating use.  
As noted, although plans to sell NYC libraries were not announced by the Mayor Michael Bloomberg administration until much later, those plans actually to go back to at least 2005 or probably 2004David Offensend was hired by the NYPL in June of 2004 and, though he is imprecise, he says that he started working on library deals not long after his arrival there.  Janet Offensend, his wife, who helped launch BPL library sales started haunting the BPL and its board in 2005.  Other city development officials were being positioned by Mayor Bloomberg on the BPL board around that time.  (The Bloomberg administration took office January 1, 2002, shortly after 9/11.  By contrast, the Giuliani administration implemented library expansion plans that carried over into the early Bloomberg years.)

The BPL's minutes for 2005 show that in January a developer, perhaps jumping the gun based on inside knowledge, was angling to buy the 12,200 square-foot Midwood Library.  In November 2006 the New York Times ran a little noticed article about tearing down “obsolete” branch libraries to produce “new,” "better" library space in multi-use developments saying that a study had produced "an inventory of nearly every branch library in New York City" to identify "candidates for redevelopment" (like the "Red Hook, Sunset Park and Brower Park" libraries and the "Clinton Hill Library," which involves pushing through an accompanying rezoning.)  The article mentions "deferred maintenance" as a reason to redevelop the libraries.

In May of 2006 it was revealed that four Connecticut librarians had won a fight, secret because of a gag order since it began in July 2005, to resist broad federal surveillance of their library patrons.

Although the public did not know what it needed to know in order to see it happening, 2007 and 2008 were extremely eventful years in terms of furthering the plans to sell NYC libraries: 
2007 
    •    In January 2007, Booz Allen Hamilton (known principally as a private surveillance firm, the "colossus" in the industry, working for the federal government) was hired to assist the NYPL trustees with their strategy of the sale and reformulating of libraries.
    •    In the Summer of 2007 the Mayor Bloomberg and First Deputy Mayor Patti Harris expressed enthusiasm for the NYPL’s plans to sell and redevelop major central destination Manhattan Libraries.
         •    In November The Donnell Library sale was announced . . . .

TO READ MORE (a complete timeline of library sale events and maneuvers in 2007, 2008 and right through to to the formation of Citizens Defending Libraries) - Click: When Did Library Selling and Underfunding Begin?

It's Not Just The Real Estate Industry Threatening Libraries


While most New Yorkers are attuned to the power and excesses of the city real estate industry and therefore easily understand its role as a key motivator in the assault on libraries, it's unfortunately naive to believe that only the real estate industry has an agenda that is adverse to the tradition of continuing libraries as the democratic commons we have known them to be.

This gets us into some other big questions. TO READ MORE- Click: Examining The Panoply of Threats

Control of Information

Does dumbing down the public make sense, is it truly workable if you want an effective democracy?  The availability and control of information, including in libraries as copious storehouses of information, has always long disconcerted authoritarians.  For instance, is it surprising to know that Senator Joseph McCarthy exercised his influence to ban from U.S. controlled libraries the music and scores of the "Fanfare For The Common Man" composer Aaron Copeland, because McCarthy believed  . . . .
TO READ MORE- Click: Examining The Panoply of Threats 
No doubt there are those for whom it would be preferable if information in libraries was tidily circumscribed so that it just slipstreams comfortably behind the limited thinking and reporting of the corporate conglomerate controlled national media.  That's a corporate media which among other things and by example underreports the climate change crisis, and  . . .
TO READ MORE- Click: Examining The Panoply of Threats
 While the tradition has been to protect and preserve the information entrusted to libraries, information on the internet can be startlingly evanescent, its continued existence subject to decisions made by whim or out of wrath about what the public should see. . . .
TO READ MORE- Click: Examining The Panoply of Threats
The Internet And Digital as Business

As the world speeds into digital, it is important to recognize the pull and tugs of what the internet corporations would like, including reasons for wanting things to go digital.  There are reasons why, when just five or six (as of 2017) people control as much wealth as half of the rest of the world's population, that Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon (and Washington Post) owner Jeff Bezos, and Microsoft's Bill Gates are three for them (with another Carlos Slim Helu incidentally, as part of his media holdings, being the largest shareholder of the New York Times.  Those reasons coincide with the reasons Apple, Google/Alphabet, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft are all vying (along with Exxon Mobile) for the spot as largest U.S. company.

 . . . Think where all this money comes from.  There is, of course, the ubiquitous advertising, as the pop-up ads that saturate far-flung corners of the internet will remind you, just as advertising saturates the monopolistically owned TV and radio airwaves.  There is also the data-scraping.  As the "old internet saw" was quoted when Google was wiring all of NYC's streets for wireless internet "for free": "If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product."  What the private internet companies know about you helps target you . . . .
TO READ MORE- Click: Examining The Panoply of Threats (or start by reading some of the snippets in different categories below.)
Privatized Political Advantage

Among those buying the data are political parties and their campaign operations looking to control the elected seats of government. Now with unprecedented insight into your preferences, those actors and operatives use the data to decide, with tools like gerrymandering, how much your vote should or should not be allowed to count.  With "voter preference files" that contain tens of thousands of "sets of data points" they have graduated from "microtargeting specific groups" to "nanotargeting" with different kinds of messages (whether true or not) designed elicit particular `emotional responses' from voters.  "Pay to sway" services supply a smorgasbord of  . . .
TO READ MORE- Click: Examining The Panoply of Threats
Owning Ideas and Culture to Charge For Them

The content industry has its wants as well.  Its purveyors desire, for instance, to get the public out to the very latest movie you see touted on billboards, simultaneously on the sides of city buses, via the ads on Comedy Central and other channels, perhaps also boosted by a "sponsorship" mention on your local public radio station as it does featurette reporting . . . 
TO READ MORE- Click: Examining The Panoply of Threats
A Reduction to Dollar$ Sense

. . Traditional libraries have always stood as models opposite to the concept that everything in the world, plus everything that ought to be prioritized and perpetually pushed to the fore should exist in stripped-down monetizable dimensions.  To evaluate the world exclusively in the very limited terms of seeing things in terms of just numbers or only following the money is, in an of itself, impoverishing.  A 2015 report published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review studied how  . . .
TO READ MORE- Click: Examining The Panoply of Threats
Surveillance

The last big subject to mention bears a relationship to the first topic.  When the government, whoever is in charge, isn't actually preventing citizens from reading certain books it might proscribe, it can, nevertheless, be interested in surveiling what books and information members of the public are reading.  In theory, this could allow the government to  . . . .
TO READ MORE- Click: Examining The Panoply of Threats
Who Is Hurt Most When Libraries Are Defunded and Dismantled? The Poor, The Racially  Discriminated Against, Scholars, Future Leaders

Defunding and dismantling our libraries hurts society broadly, probably more broadly than many may have considered.

It is, of course, usually recognized that cutting back on library services significantly impacts low-income neighborhoods relying on them.  A PowerPoint presentation to the Queens Library board told it that library service is most important to low-income users: 2/3rds visit at least weekly, & almost 30% visit every/most days.  A recent Pew research Center report says "Low-income Americans, Hispanics and African Americans are more likely than others to say that a library closing would impact their lives and communities," see them as community anchors, and use them to pursue jobs.  And it's been astutely commented that wherever it happens the loss of libraries is "another surefire way to entrench inequality."
 
Researchers and students also use the libraries.  Arguing to destroy libraries, the NYPL tried a divide-and-conquer-the-community approach suggesting that the research library was elitist and not sufficiently populist when in any given year the researchers and students at its 42nd Street central reference library consult "only 6% of print sources."  The same argument was being used to thin out collections at neighborhood libraries and move books off-site from those locations too.  That "6%" consultation rate was referred to by Ada Louise Huxtable in her very last column, published just weeks before her death (Wall Street Journal: Undertaking Its Destruction, December 3, 2012), in which she lambasted the NYPL's Central Library Plan including its stingy thinking that books should not be kept on hand if they are consulted infrequently:
If we could estimate how many ways in which the world has been changed by that 6%, the number would be far more meaningful than the traffic through its lion-guarded doors. The library's own releases, while short on details, consistently offer a rosy picture of a lively and popular "People's Palace." But a research library is a timeless repository of treasures, not a popularity contest measured by head counts, the current arbiter of success. This is already the most democratic of institutions, free and open to all. Democracy and populism seem to have become hopelessly confused.
Among other things, the 42nd Street Central Reference Library and SIBL are the libraries for the graduate students at CUNY, the City University of New York, who  . . . .

TO READ MORE (about how the benefits of libraries are transmitted throughout society, the racial discrimination in selling libraries and divide and divide-and-conquer-the-community ploys) - Click: Who Is Hurt Most When Libraries Are Defunded and Dismantled?

How Many Books Are Disappearing?


Venturing into a library to witness scads of empty book shelves is a disorientating experience.  The empty shelves constitute early warning signs: Empty shelves at Mid-Manhattan Library, SIBL, the Brooklyn Heights Library, the Grand Army Plaza Library, the 42nd Street Central Reference Library have meant that these libraries have been targeted to be involved in library sale and shrinkage plans.

It is stunning how many books have disappeared and become unavailable, multiple millions overall.  (Library administration officials have done their best to obscure true counts of the reductions.)  If the books disappear from targeted libraries far enough in advance library administration officials can deceptively promise that there will be as many books after the shrinkage of the library as before.  Another deception is for library officials to claim that if books are exiled to be consolidated elsewhere in a "deduping" center there will actually be "more" books as a result.  ("Deduping" is euphemism for book elimination, the idea being the more books you consolidate in a central location the more books you have that are "duplicates" to be eliminated.)

Amazingly, despite the increasing difficulty in obtaining books NYC book circulation is going up and circulation increases are mainly the physical books that patrons generally prefer.  The idea that because some books (not all- for instance, Robert Caro's "The Power Broker") are available digitally we no longer need libraries to supply physical books is a myth.  That library administration officials disparage physical books as "old-fashioned analogue books" or just "artifactual originals" or that those officials will spend more money to push people in to digital reading than what spending on physical books costs does not make that myth any more true.

When library officials solicit contributions from the general public they will jive about how they are asking for that money in order to buy more books because they know that is a vision the public will support and respond favorably to, but at the same time library officials are less than transparent about how they are actually removing books from library premises and from the system entirely.

For more information about how many millions of books have disappeared from which libraries . .

TO READ MORE- Click: How Many Books Are Disappearing From New York City Libraries?

Why Turning Libraries Into Real Estate Deals Isn't The Good Deal Library and City Development Officials Describe

At first blush, many people have accepted what city development and library officials have regularly asserted about the deals launching this city-wide program of converting libraries into real estate deals (or, similarly, "redeveloping" our schools for that matter), that by "unlocking" library real estate development rights with multi-use developments it is a "win-win" proposition that benefits the libraries as well as the developers and real estate industry.

The offer of a free lunch is a tempting thing to hope for, but it doesn't bear scrutiny.  The math, when you do it, simply doesn't work out: It is expensive to tear down existing, frequently recently renovated libraries that the public has already invested substantially in.  When these development ideas are promoted the math goes from initial wishful fantasies, to deliberately obfuscated lack of transparency, to outright mendacious misrepresentation.  If library officials had insisted that the Donnell Library or the Brooklyn Heights Library be fully and completely replaced when they were sold (irrespective or their spaces being shoved underground), the sales would have to be calculated showing deep and obviously absurd public losses. . .

There is also the disruption that affects the public. And, although library and city officials try to skip over the point, when library assets are being divested, the libraries are, in the process, shedding their opportunities for future expansion and to keep pace as the city grows.

Moreover and probably most important, such multi-use development schemes force the libraries to "partner" with powerful private real estate interests that ultimately wind up in the drivers seat, setting the priorities with big checkbooks that bankroll false and misleading PR.  With the moneyed interests throwing their weight around, the public is exposed to bait-and-switch variations.  The Donnell Library sale deal that was described to the press and public when it was announced in no way resembled the deal that was consummated.

Selling Libraries And The Broader Issue of Private Sector Plunder of Public Property

Libraries are not our only public commons that are undemocratically under attack.  The attacks on libraries reflect a much wider scourge of plundering our public assets with the selling off and privatizing of schools, hospitals, public housing, parks, and even the privatization of our streets and sidewalks.  Accordingly, instead of just fighting the library fight, Citizens Defending Libraries (and you can join us) has reached out to other activists to hold a series of forums on the selling off of public assets and help engender and understanding of the commonalty of the threats and tactics an subterfuges we see.  For instance, as Noam Chomsky has explained one such "standard technique of privatization: defund, make sure things don't work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital.". .  (In other words, when the door is open to privatization and sell-off there is an inducement to underfund.)  And then, with the transfer to private ownership, the result for public gets even worse.

Some of The Biggest Lies To Watch Out For 

City and library officials working with real estate developers trot out a standard set of misleading falsehoods and ploys to promote library sales.  If you think they sound good, watch out, often what they are saying is pretty much opposite to the real truth.

Want to know what lies to watch out for? . .

TO READ MORE- Click: The Biggest Lies To Watch Out For When Official Sell Libraries

(Read about: lies about public process * Lies about how to oppose a sale * Lies that "replacement" libraries will be as big or bigger *  Lies that libraries are too "dilapidated" to fix * The "same number of books" lie)

Where Does It Go From Here?  What Can You do?

One thing you can do is consider this a worthy cause and inform yourself and others about it.  Protection and preservation of our libraries is something that most people instantly and automatically understand.  As one member of our group observed early on: "If you can't stop them at libraries, where can you stop them?"  That's why we must stop them.. .

 . .  But also, because people do understand what it means to protect libraries, because they understand it in their very bones, the protection of libraries is an issue and a cause that can be used as a fulcrum to push back on the many other issues that relate to it, the impoverishing privatizations of public assets in general, abuses of the real estate industry, the corrupting influence of money in politics, inequality of power and wealth and the abuses of power by the wealthy. 

What Can We Do Next?

TO READ MORE- Click: How to Defend Our Libraries.

(Read about: Altering the law * Insisting on transparency * defending library buttons * Our Letter of Support * Our petition * Our mailing List * Testimony at public hearings *  Birddogging elected officials  *  Contacting the press *  Social media * Having us speak to yous community organization * Letters to the editor/comment on web articles * Research help * FOIL assistance * Singing the marvelous Judy Gorman library song )



The morning crowd waiting for the Brooklyn Heights downtown library to open
The Petition Being Put Forth By Citizens Defending Libraries

The first petition (gathered over 17,000 signature, most of them online- available at signon.org with a background statement and can still be signed).   On June 16, Citizens Defending libraries issued a new updated petition that you can sign now:
Mayor de Blasio: Rescue Our Libraries from Developer Destruction
CONTACT: To contact Citizens Defending Libraries email MDDWhite (at) aol.com.

The archive of our previous web page (used into December 2017) can be found by clicking HERE.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Important For WBAI Radio- Participate And Vote (By October 15th) In the 2019 Local Station Board Elections- Candidate Interviews, Electronic Ballots

During the last WBAI elections we posted information about the important of WBAI and how important it is to vote in the Local Station Board elections: WBAI Radio- An Important Voice- Keeping It Meaningful & Alternative (Library Defenders Running For Its Local Station Board).

Right now there is the added factor that it is important to vote in the WBAI elections to protect WBAI, which was just shut down by a renegade group.  See: Resolution of WBAI’s Local Station Board Responding To Shutdown of WBAI New York.

The WBAI shutdown and elimination of web pages about the election have made it harder to vote, but voting, no matter who you vote for is the most important thing.  Voting, no matter what, is the most important thing. We need about 200 more people to vote to reach a quorum and that is critical.  You need to vote ASAP and at least by October 15th.

You have the right to vote if you have contributed $25 more more between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019.

You will need to vote electronically. Here is what you need to do. 

Your voting email should probably come in to you from . . vote@simplyvoting.com
. . . with the subject line:  2019 Pacifica Station Elections - WBAI Listener.

If you specially request a ballot the subject line may be: Your e-ballot is here.

If you are having trouble finding your election emails to vote, A helpful search of mails is for: wbailb.
 
You will be sent to a link to vote and supplied with information to enter there like:
Elector ID - wbailb119XX
Password - DTKRXX
After that you can use drop down menus to assign numbers to rank the candidates you want. You can vote for as many candidates as you like in the order of your preference.

Who should you vote for?  Candidates are running on three slates.  One slate is the Indy Slate on which Citizens Defending Libraries co-founders, Carolyn McIntyre and Michael D. D. White, ran and were elected in the last election.  There is also a brand new slate of candidates, the Red Wave candidates, with a lot of candidates who are from DSA.  The candidates from all three slates of candidate are unanimously opposed to the shut down of WBAI that has occurred.

If you want to listen to the candidates (or watch a video) of the candidates debating, and perhaps learn about various aspect of running a radio station like WBAI and the Pacifica Network, here are links- (the debates were moderated by CDL co-founder Michael D. D. White):

Audio:
First Atrium WBAI Local Station Board Election 2019 Candidates Debate

Second Atrium WBAI Local Station Board Election 2019 Candidates Debate
Third Atrium WBAI Local Station Board Election 2019 Candidates Debate
Video:
WBAI Local Station Board Candidates Questioned 9/15/2019
If you want advice on who to vote for, it can make a difference, the way that the ranked choice voting formulas work, if people vote similarly.

There is a recommended ranking of voting that was widely distributed that combines candidates from the Indy and Red Wave slates.  It is below:

   
The listener candidate names in ranked order above are:
1.    DeeDee Halleck
2.    James Sagurton
3.    Marilyn Vogt-Downey
4.    Jim Dingeman
5.    Maxine Harrison-Gallmon
6.    Jack De Palma
7.    Katherine O'Sullivan
8.    Ana Garcia
9.    Safia Albaiti
10.    Simone Norman
11.    Steve Finkelstein
12.    David Andersson
13.    Rosa Palmeri
14.    Jez Zerbe
15.    Michael Mordowanec   

Thursday, October 10, 2019

How The Proposed Self-cannibalizing Sale of WBAI Radio (And Other Pacifica Network Stations?) To “Finance” Pacifica Operations Is Like The Self-cannibalizing Selling Off of New York City’s Important Libraries To “Finance” Libraries- There Is Absolutely No Future In It

The following is part of a previous recent post: Resolution of WBAI’s Local Station Board Responding To Shutdown of WBAI New York.  We republish this part here, because it stands alone as something that our library defending public will want to think about.

Our New York City library defenders defenders are aware of how the NYC libraries system is being slowly dismantled as core assets, major libraries are being sold off and shrunk, library by library: Donnell, the Second biggest Library in Brooklyn, the only NYC Science Library, the emptying of millions of books from the stacks from the 42nd Street Central Reference Library, the shrinkage and book elimination at the biggest circulating library Mid-Manhttan, etc.

Here are what we wrote:

There is a lot of what is going on with respect to this attempted takeover of WBAI that will feel familiar to New Yorkers who have paid close attention to the privatizing sell-off of libraries and the transformation of libraries and their traditions into less democratic reformulations that are less threatening to the consumer model based power structures of our society.

There is, for instance, the deceptive descriptions that a corporate press is far too ready to repeat.  For instance, without talking to anyone else, the New York Times unsekptically quoted John Vernile the Interim Executive Director who acted by stealth to close WBAI as he offered reassurance that WBAI was not going away, that "Pacifica was determined not to sell that prime piece of radio real estate," and that "Pacifica, he said, wants to `rebuild' WBAI at some point, although he did not offer a clear target date."  "Rebuild WBAI"?: That sounds like the assurance that NYC libraries were being sold to build new and better "libraries of the future" or "libraries of the 21st Century."   . .  But you "build" from the ground up, not the top down, which is what WBAI has been doing.  Also, this rhetoric is contrary to the known internal dialogues of the people associated with Mr. Vernile: Selling WBAI is exactly what they are talking about and advocating.

There is also the strategy of working secretly in advance attempting to take people by surprise, to make things a "done deal" or "fait acompli" by the time the curtain is raised on what's planned.

Going along with this with New York Libraries and with Pacifica's handling of WBAI is the funny bookkeeping that manufactures a "crisis" to justify proposals to finance in self-cannibalizing sales of core and valuable public properties.  Naomi Klein has written about the various tactics of "crisis capitalism" and this variation is one of them.

We New Yorkers also know that when the privatizers want a public asset disposed of, a favorite tactic of the privatizers is to use every ruse to have that asset become, along the way, as shabby, unattractive, and hopefully as alienating as possible.  That can be involve something as grotesque as not cleaning or fixing the bathrooms of libraries, and we have also seen in a remarkable pattern of unvarying repetition, that with every library that comes up as a next target for sale (except for the brand new SIBL, Science, Industry and Business Library), the air conditioning mysteriously breaks and becomes unfixable.  If NYU wants to build on what was dedicated as public park space it is supposed to maintain, that park space fills with trash, etc.  (It is too much to summarize right now, but part of the challenges WBAI has faced in recent years involve financial arrangements, that were not beneficial that the Pacfica national office as decision make saddled it with.) 

WBAI has been doing a remarkable job of relying on volunteers to successfully operate on a shoe string.  Pacifica does not, as advertised, have a debt crisis, but it does have a cash flow challenge engendered in part by what the internet seeming offers for free (but its not).  Cash flow challenges are frequently dealt with by investing to generate new revenue.  In any budget there are what is known as "expenditure driven revenues."  Arguably Pacifica has been quite stingy recently in allocating resources.  WBAI in the largest, perhaps most influential metropolitan media market does its 24/7 programming with just 7 FTE (Full Time Equivalent) employees.  The much smaller Pacifica station in Berkeley never reduced staff to cut costs when others did and has, an FTE staff that is several multiples of that number.

A WBAI listener who recently died very recently, just months ago, contributed over $700,000.  With the investment of a small fraction of that money, not much more than $40,000, WBAI could be activating use of the High Definition capabilities of its new far less expensive, but far better HD antenna.  In short order WBAI could be broadcasting three times as much content 24/7 over the three HD terrestrial radio channels made possible (mirrored by internet streams of those channels).  It probably wouldn't triple income for WBAI, but it would substantially increase it without comparable increases in expense, and it would hugely boost WBAI's media profile in NYC.  Pacifica directed and sequestered these funds elsewhere.   

In the world of the New York City library sell-offs, the background plans associated with the library sell-offs involve long lists of multiple libraries to be turned into real estate deals, but, in classic divide-and-conquer fashion, the public only hears about one or two of these libraries being for sale at a time.  In the case of Pacifica, if WBAI is marshaled to the fore to be the subject of a self-cannibalizing sale, there is nothing to prevent other Pacifica stations to be moved against in subsequent stealth attacks for future self-cannibalizing sales.

The New York City library sales involve the template of consolidating shrinkages; a central library with smaller, perhaps fewer satellite libraries and in total, there is less aggregate library space than before.  When WBAI was taken off the air, its website was replaced with a page unveiling a new brand, look or concept of Pacifica: "Pacifica Across America."


The Web Page that replaced WBAI when it was taken off the air and its web pages and archives removed from the internet
What is "Pacifica Across America"?  How would "Pacifica Across America" come into existence and manifest itself?  Through the internet?  Would there be a centralized station operating that supplied the content?

One other thing that New York City library defenders are very familiar with when it comes to the book-eliminating reformulations libraries is the way that the changes being made are pushing those seeking information toward the digital and into the internet, which is far less private and far more subject to control and outside influence.

In resisting the court's Temporary Restraining Order ordering that WBAI be restored to the air, Counsel representing Mr. Vernile along with whoever acted with him to take the station off the air were eager to argue that decision of the issue should be removed to federal court and determined as an FCC (Federal Communications Commission).  The Chair of the FCC is Ajit Pai, a corporate media conglomerate lobbyist who is using his chair position at the FCC to eliminate net neutrality, which then allows for the content control privatizing initiatives of the corporate conglomerates to prevail much more easily.  .  .  .  

. . .  Additionally, it has been reported that“leaked documents show the White House is planning an executive order that would put Ajit Pai in charge of policing free speech online and allow government censorship of the Internet.”

That would go a long way to ensure that the content of any centrally based Pacifica Across America internet operation would be tame and nonthreatening to those in power.

When outside interests want to move in to take over and privatize, they don't always think in terms of acquiring the public assets in question: Taking control of the board that owns the public assets equates to the same thing.  In New York, one of the first two libraries for sale "as one of the most valuable" was the Pacific Branch, Carnegie designed and donated libraries in Brooklyn immediately next to Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards mega-monopoly project (both of those targeted libraries were next to Fores City Ratner property).  Real estate interests had targeted the Pacific Branch library for direct acquisition in the mid-1970s.  Back then, when the community fought to fend off the attack, the Brooklyn Public Library's public spirited board fought with the community to defeat the sell off.  When plans again surfaced in early 2013 to sell the Pacific Library, the BPL's board had been populated by real estate interests and the BPL was took the side of the real estate community in arguing for and promoting the sell off of the Branch.

If the Pacifica network radio stations are subject to consolidating privatizing sell offs and replaced something more central that swings further toward the corporate mainstream in the flavor of its politics, its is not just the terrestrial stations and their current local voices that would be lost.  The Pacifica archives, a vast amount of content representing a tremendously important record of an alternative view of history, would also be under control of of that entity.  That content, to which WBAI, with its sister stations, has been a significant contributor is a money maker for Pacifica.  New York City library defenders are familiar with the consolidating elimination of access to books that is means information availability is ever more subject to the decisions of a corporately minded group in control.

If it seems that, with a takeover of the Pacifica's board, Pacifica could become the enemy of its own public assets, it should be remembered that intent and potential of setting up Pacifica as a network was the opposite.  The intent, and the way it has worked in the past was that the network of Pacifica stations would have the extra strength of being cross-supporting.  So, for instance, as one small example, the New York Times reported in 1972 that when "Houston was blown off the air twice during its first months of broadcasting when its transmitter was bombed, allegedly by a right wing group. Then WBAI held several successful fund raising marathons for the crippled station, and Manhattan listeners pledged some $5,000 for the Houston affiliate."

In fact, over the years, WBAI has done much to support and keep the other Pacifica stations afloat and solvent.

Cross-supporting, the stations can be an insurance policy for each other to ensure that they are all kept alive.  That interrelationship works in another beneficial way too: Each station with its own independent voice is an insurance policy for free speech.  Lest something outrageous go unremarked upon at one station, other stations can point that out. 

* * * 

It is noted in the resolution that one of the first and most important things WBAI listener members can do right is to make vote in the interfered with ongoing Local Station Board election.  This is important especially to help ensure that a quorum is reached in that election (only about 200 more listener votes are needed for that purpose); it's not just important who you vote for.  Voting, no matter what, is the most important thing.  We will post more about the election.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Resolution of WBAI’s Local Station Board Responding To Shutdown of WBAI New York

New Yorkers are just becoming aware that WBAI listener-supported public radio was seized and shut down on Monday of this week.  It was seized and shut down in an improper and probably highly illegal stealth attack, information about which is provided here, but is not widely available to New Yorkers yet.  As of now WBAI has obtained a court order that the station be returned to its proper management and its normal broadcasting restored.

 New Yorkers need better means of getting information and being informed.  WBAI was one of the few outlets that provided that information.  WBAI is New York's only listener-supported public radio station.  (WNYC, which refers to itself as listener supported, is 70% corporately captured, as reflected by its increasingly corporate press release points of view and tendency to promote instigation and perpetuation of the Unites States' perpetual wars. .    . and probably also by the $1 million annual income of WNYC's recent president, Laura Walker.)

We have noted (see our Project Censored interview) the parallels between why it's important to preserve traditional libraries and why terrestrial radio is similarly important, and how the censoring forces aligning to dismantle traditional libraries have are similarly interested in wanting to sabotage and end listener supported terrestrial radio stations like WBAI.  We have noted that "the fight to protect WBAI as an information commons obviously involves a significant overlap with the fight to defend the libraries." In fact (disclosure), this is why two of the Citizens Defending Libraries co-founders went on WBAI's Local Station board, to protect the station and ensure its success.  

Here,  explaining much of what has happened respecting the recent seizure if the WBAI station by hostile interests, is the resolution that was adopted unanimously on Wednesday night, October 9th, by the WBAI's Local Station Board that is demanding the restoration of this New York radios station to properly serve the public.  (And here is a link to video of the WBAI local station board meeting where the resolution was adopted provided by Joe Friendly.


Resolution of WBAI’s Local Station Board Responding To Shutdown of WBAI New York
Whereas, Article Seven, Local Station Boards, Section 3: Specific Powers and Duties, Subparagraph E. of the Bylaws (“Bylaws”), assigns various responsibilities respecting local station management to the WBAI Local Station Board (“WBAILSB” or “LSB”) as the Local Station Board for WBAI New York radio, including, in part:
    1.    “To screen and select a pool of candidates for the position of General Manager” and that the “LSB may initiate the process to fire a station General Manager.”

    2.    “To screen and select a pool of candidates for the position of station Program Director, from which pool of approved candidates the station's General Manager shall hire the station's Program Director.”

    3.    To evaluate “the station's Program Director.”

    4.    “To work with station management to ensure that station programming fulfills the purposes of the Foundation and is responsive to the diverse needs of the listeners (demographic) and communities (geographic) served by the station, and that station policies and procedures for making programming decisions and for program evaluation are working in a fair, collaborative and respectful manner to provide quality programming,” and

    5.    “To ensure that the station works diligently towards the goal of diversity in staffing at all levels and maintenance of a discrimination-free atmosphere in the workplace.”
Whereas, the WBAILSB has been working diligently in all respects to fulfill its responsibilities and yet WBAI’s broadcasting has apparently been shut down nevertheless without proper procedure or involvement of the WABILSB;

Whereas, WBAI was given in trust to Pacifica to maintain the vision of WBAI founder Louis Schweitzer to broadcast diverse and contrary views to the New York community; and

Whereas, a new Interim Executive Director for the Pacifica Foundation, Jon Vernile, appeared at WBAI with several other individuals, who are supposed to be currently serving as Directors of the Pacifica Foundation National Board (“PNB”) together with the other individuals taking direction from Mr. Vernile and/or these the two aforementioned Directors of the PNB (the “IED Crew”) and seized control of WBAI’s premises in order to shut down WBAI’s normal authorized broadcasting and replace it with other content of their own choosing; now, therefore be it

RESOLVED, by the LSB as follows:

Section 1.  We declare for the record that the IED Crew have shut down WBAI without notifying the LSB or any of its officers of these actions or providing any explanation thereto, and this is despite the fact that LSB Chair previously reached out to the IED seeking to open communications with the IED and offering to inform the IED about station and LSB operations and management, to which invitation the IED never responded, and despite the fact that the LSB’s Management Evaluation Committee similarly contacted the IED and similarly offered to inform him of its work underway, to which invitation the IED also did not respond.

Section 2.  We declare for the record that WBAI’s broadcast signal has since been used to broadcast programming that we hereby find is not “responsive to the diverse needs of the listeners (demographic) and communities (geographic) served by the station,” that such programing is not properly reflective of “station policies and procedures” and is not being produced by “working in a fair, collaborative and respectful manner” and is not providing “quality programming”; in fact, we find WBAI’s content has been politically neutered.

Section 3.  We declare for the record that the programming broadcast over WBAI by those seizing the WBAI station is harmful to WBAI and its brand, and to the community, and is driving away WBAI listeners.

Section 4.  Those seizing the WBAI station to shut it down have violated the Bylaws by not continuing to broadcast notice of the October 9, 2019 LSB meeting as required by the Bylaws.

Section 5.  We declare for the record that the WBAILSB made no decision to recommend the firing of WBAI’s General Manager, Berthold Reimers, nor of Interim Program Manager Linda Perry, nor has it voted in any way to express dissatisfaction with their work that could justify any current action that would hurt WBAI and Pacifica by removing them from their positions, especially in the arrogant, destructive, and illegal manner that the IED Crew acted.

Section 6.  We hereby direct that whatever acting General Manager the IED has put in place in charge of WBAI be removed and that whatever acting Program Director put in charge by the IED Crew (this is specifically not a reference to Linda Perry) also be removed, because, for at least three full business days, they have not identified themselves to the LSB or taken any steps to establish the relationship and coordination with the LSB required under the Bylaws, nor were whatever people who may hold such positions put in place by the IED Crew with proper procedures or involvement of the WBAILSB, and we further declare for the record that we did not endorse, or in any way concur in any actions of the IED Crew putting any such individuals in place, which we consider to be illegitimate and in contravention of the legal processes stipulated in the Bylaws.

Section 7.  The apparently ultra vires, unauthorized actions of the IED Crew that were launched with intentional secrecy are quite obviously intentionally harmful to WBAI and very significantly to Pacifica as a whole, including financially, and, accordingly, the LSB is committed to investigating for further appropriate action the likely personal liability of all members of the IED Crew, as well as any PNB member or other person assisting them in any way in such actions taken by them prior to authorization of the PNB.

Section 8.  Although we read in the New York Times that “Pacifica leaders said that the decision to shut down the station had been in the works for months, and that it was an essential step to save the larger foundation from ruin,” we do not know who the people are who are identifying themselves as these “Pacifica leaders,” and the LSB was never advised of, or consulted with about “the decision to shut down the station” that assertedly, “had been in the works for months,” and, as such, we think it is clear there could not have been any emergency reason for the formulation of secret plans to shut down the station without PNB or LSB knowledge, approval or consultation pursuant to referred to “months” of secrete planning.

Section 9.  The LSB finds for the record that unnoticed shutdown of WBAI was apparently intended to inflict extra harm on WBAI and Pacifica as a network by doing it in the middle of on ongoing, successful fund drive by WBAI and in the middle of an ongoing LSB election, thus impeding the right of WBAI voters to a free and fair election, including particularly, but not limited to impeding the ability of WBAI members to vote by taking down WBAI’s web pages and web links about the election.

Section 10. The WBAILSB finds it utterly reprehensible and believes it criminal that the IED Crew involved in this insubordinate insurrection arbitrarily shut down WBAI’s web pages and web links about the election, and redirected WBAI listener-donated funds to KPFA in California without first informing the PNB Directors and gaining the approval of WBAI's management and/or governing body and that the IED Crew arbitrarily and illegally occupied the station’s premises, evicted and locked out street producers, took equipment and station funds, solicited funds on WBAI’s airwaves for other station, and took intellectual property.

Section 11.  We find that in multiple ways the actions of the IED have been pretextual, associated with the dissemination of false information, and also appear to be discriminatory in intent and in result.

Section 12.  We urge all WBAI members to make every effort they can to vote in the Local Station Board elections, irrespective of the impediments thrown up by the actions of the IED Crew, while also recognizing that it is now probably necessary for Pacifica to attempt corrections for the defects the IED Crew have introduced into the election process. 

Section 13.  The LSB hereby supports and encourages all funding efforts to ensure that WBAI continues as a station broadcasting in New York appropriately reflecting the needs of our local communities.
                  
Section 14.  The LSB is particularly affronted and concerned that the months of planning this seizure by the IED Crew has entailed the deliberate elimination of WBAI’s archives, which, no longer available, means WBAI history is being erased in a very Orwellian fashion at exactly the time when the public seeing WBAI in the news should be able to explore and discover the content of the station that the IED Crew is now making the subject of controversy.

Section 15. The WBAILSB calls on any counsel representing Pacifica not to provide legal representation and counsel for any of the IED Crew in connection with their insubordination, insurrection, and ultra vires acts, as to do so would be, and must be handled as, an unwaiveable conflict of interest.

Section 16. The WBAILSB calls upon the PNB not to indemnify any of the IED Crew in connection with their insubordination, insurrection, and ultra vires acts; and instead, we ask the PNB to consider how it can recover for the losses sustained by WBAI and the rest of Pacifica by personally pursuing the individuals of the IED Crew who engaged in such acts.

Section 17. The WBAILSB urges the Directors of the PNB who have not invalidated their status as Directors by participating as a member of the IED Crew or by acting to support their actions, to remove from the Board and from any position in Pacifica all who participated in this attempted coup.

Section 18. The WBAILSB expresses, on behalf of the station, our gratitude to the Mayor of New York City and to the New York State Attorney General, for their expressions of friendship and support for WBAI, and urge them to assist WBAI in getting back on its feet.

Section 19. The WBAILSB finds that, as seized by the IDE Crew, the purpose of serving the New York community by broadcasting diverse and contrary views, for which WBAI founder Louis Schweitzer entrusted Pacifica with his gift is not being met or even minimally respected.
           
Section 20.  This resolution shall take effect immediately and direct the LSB chair to forward this resolution to the PNB and make every effort to promulgate it widely for public view and to ensure it becomes widely known that the LSB denounces this locking out of WBAI's staff and the taking over of its programming.
It is noted in the resolution that one of the first and most important things WBAI listener members can do right is to make vote in the interfered with ongoing Local Station Board election.  This is important especially to help ensure that a quorum is reached in that election (only about 200 more listener votes are needed for that purpose); it's not just important who you vote for.  Voting, no matter what, is the most important thing.  We will post more about the election.

There is a lot of what is going on with respect to this attempted takeover of WBAI that will feel familiar to New Yorkers who have paid close attention to the privatizing sell-off of libraries and the transformation of libraries and their traditions into less democratic reformulations that are less threatening to the consumer model based power structures of our society.

There is, for instance, the deceptive descriptions that a corporate press is far too ready to repeat.  For instance, without talking to anyone else, the New York Times unsekptically quoted John Vernile the Interim Executive Director who acted by stealth to close WBAI as he offered reassurance that WBAI was not going away, that "Pacifica was determined not to sell that prime piece of radio real estate," and that "Pacifica, he said, wants to `rebuild' WBAI at some point, although he did not offer a clear target date."  "Rebuild WBAI"?: That sounds like the assurance that NYC libraries were being sold to build new and better "libraries of the future" or "libraries of the 21st Century."   . .  But you "build" from the ground up, not the top down, which is what WBAI has been doing.  Also, this rhetoric is contrary to the known internal dialogues of the people associated with Mr. Vernile: Selling WBAI is exactly what they are talking about and advocating.

There is also the strategy of working secretly in advance attempting to take people by surprise, to make things a "done deal" or "fait acompli" by the time the curtain is raised on what's planned.

Going along with this with New York Libraries and with Pacifica's handling of WBAI is the funny bookkeeping that manufactures a "crisis" to justify proposals to finance in self-cannibalizing sales of core and valuable public properties.  Naomi Klein has written about the various tactics of "crisis capitalism" and this variation is one of them.

We New Yorkers also know that when the privatizers want a public asset disposed of, a favorite tactic of the privatizers is to use every ruse to have that asset become, along the way, as shabby, unattractive, and hopefully as alienating as possible.  That can be involve something as grotesque as not cleaning or fixing the bathrooms of libraries, and we have also seen in a remarkable pattern of unvarying repetition, that with every library that comes up as a next target for sale (except for the brand new SIBL, Science, Industry and Business Library), the air conditioning mysteriously breaks and becomes unfixable.  If NYU wants to build on what was dedicated as public park space it is supposed to maintain, that park space fills with trash, etc.  (It is too much to summarize right now, but part of the challenges WBAI has faced in recent years involve financial arrangements, that were not beneficial that the Pacfica national office as decision make saddled it with.) 

WBAI has been doing a remarkable job of relying on volunteers to successfully operate on a shoe string.  Pacifica does not, as advertised, have a debt crisis, but it does have a cash flow challenge engendered in part by what the internet seeming offers for free (but its not).  Cash flow challenges are frequently dealt with by investing to generate new revenue.  In any budget there are what is known as "expenditure driven revenues."  Arguably Pacifica has been quite stingy recently in allocating resources.  WBAI in the largest, perhaps most influential metropolitan media market does its 24/7 programming with just 7 FTE (Full Time Equivalent) employees.  The much smaller Pacifica station in Berkeley never reduced staff to cut costs when others did and has, an FTE staff that is several multiples of that number.

A WBAI listener who recently died very recently, just months ago, contributed over $700,000.  With the investment of a small fraction of that money, not much more than $40,000, WBAI could be activating use of the High Definition capabilities of its new far less expensive, but far better HD antenna.  In short order WBAI could be broadcasting three times as much content 24/7 over the three HD terrestrial radio channels made possible (mirrored by internet streams of those channels).  It probably wouldn't triple income for WBAI, but it would substantially increase it without comparable increases in expense, and it would hugely boost WBAI's media profile in NYC.  Pacifica directed and sequestered these funds elsewhere.   

In the world of the New York City library sell-offs, the background plans associated with the library sell-offs involve long lists of multiple libraries to be turned into real estate deals, but, in classic divide-and-conquer fashion, the public only hears about one or two of these libraries being for sale at a time.  In the case of Pacifica, if WBAI is marshaled to the fore to be the subject of a self-cannibalizing sale, there is nothing to prevent other Pacifica stations to be moved against in subsequent stealth attacks for future self-cannibalizing sales.

The New York City library sales involve the template of consolidating shrinkages; a central library with smaller, perhaps fewer satellite libraries and in total, there is less aggregate library space than before.  When WBAI was taken off the air, its website was replaced with a page unveiling a new brand, look or concept of Pacifica: "Pacifica Across America."

The Web Page that replaced WBAI when it was taken off the air and its web pages and archives removed from the internet
What is "Pacifica Across America"?  How would "Pacifica Across America" come into existence and manifest itself?  Through the internet?  Would there be a centralized station operating that supplied the content?

One other thing that New York City library defenders are very familiar with when it comes to the book-eliminating reformulations libraries is the way that the changes being made are pushing those seeking information toward the digital and into the internet, which is far less private and far more subject to control and outside influence.

In resisting the court's Temporary Restraining Order ordering that WBAI be restored to the air, Counsel representing Mr. Vernile along with whoever acted with him to take the station off the air were eager to argue that decision of the issue should be removed to federal court and determined as an FCC (Federal Communications Commission).  The Chair of the FCC is Ajit Pai, a corporate media conglomerate lobbyist who is using his chair position at the FCC to eliminate net neutrality, which then allows for the content control privatizing initiatives of the corporate conglomerates to prevail much more easily.  .  .  .  

. . .  Additionally, it has been reported that“leaked documents show the White House is planning an executive order that would put Ajit Pai in charge of policing free speech online and allow government censorship of the Internet.”

That would go a long way to ensure that the content of any centrally based Pacifica Across America internet operation would be tame and nonthreatening to those in power.

When outside interests want to move in to take over and privatize, they don't always think in terms of acquiring the public assets in question: Taking control of the board that owns the public assets equates to the same thing.  In New York, one of the first two libraries for sale "as one of the most valuable" was the Pacific Branch, Carnegie designed and donated libraries in Brooklyn immediately next to Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards mega-monopoly project (both of those targeted libraries were next to Fores City Ratner property).  Real estate interests had targeted the Pacific Branch library for direct acquisition in the mid-1970s.  Back then, when the community fought to fend off the attack, the Brooklyn Public Library's public spirited board fought with the community to defeat the sell off.  When plans again surfaced in early 2013 to sell the Pacific Library, the BPL's board had been populated by real estate interests and the BPL was took the side of the real estate community in arguing for and promoting the sell off of the Branch.

If the Pacifica network radio stations are subject to consolidating privatizing sell offs and replaced something more central that swings further toward the corporate mainstream in the flavor of its politics, its is not just the terrestrial stations and their current local voices that would be lost.  The Pacifica archives, a vast amount of content representing a tremendously important record of an alternative view of history, would also be under control of of that entity.  That content, to which WBAI, with its sister stations, has been a significant contributor is a money maker for Pacifica.  New York City library defenders are familiar with the consolidating elimination of access to books that is means information availability is ever more subject to the decisions of a corporately minded group in control.

If it seems that, with a takeover of the Pacifica's board, Pacifica could become the enemy of its own public assets, it should be remembered that intent and potential of setting up Pacifica as a network was the opposite.  The intent, and the way it has worked in the past was that the network of Pacifica stations would have the extra strength of being cross-supporting.  So, for instance, as one small example, the New York Times reported in 1972 that when "Houston was blown off the air twice during its first months of broadcasting when its transmitter was bombed, allegedly by a right wing group. Then WBAI held several successful fund raising marathons for the crippled station, and Manhattan listeners pledged some $5,000 for the Houston affiliate."

In fact, over the years, WBAI has done much to support and keep the other Pacifica stations afloat and solvent.


Cross-supporting, the stations can be an insurance policy for each other to ensure that they are all kept alive.  That interrelationship works in another beneficial way too: Each station with its own independent voice is an insurance policy for free speech.  Lest something outrageous go unremarked upon at one station, other stations can point that out.