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.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

November 3, 2013 Citizens Defending Libraries Forum On Sales Of Public Assets

This page is being updated.
Attendees at November 3rd forum
The press was not invited to this event.

Citizens Defending Libraries invited representatives from a number of coalitions and organizations for this first forum on Sales of Public Assets on November 3, 2013.

Since February, Citizens Defending Libraries (CDL) was been hard at work to prevent the Bloomberg administration's sell-off of NYC public libraries. This effort from the administration has taken place behind closed doors away from public debate. Public assets like libraries are being offered in a fire-sale to politically connected real-estate developers for their private profit, not public benefit. We are keenly aware that public libraries are not the only public assets being sold off in such private-profit deals.  Schools, hospitals, parks and public housing are also among the long list of public assets up for grabs.

On Sunday, November 3, from 2:00-4:00 PM, the weekend before the elections, CDL in concert with the Unitarian Universalist Weaving the Fabric of Diversity Committee, hosted a public forum. The purpose will be to discuss and, bring awareness to a larger community, the prodigal disposal of assets serving the public and to share, identify and highlight our many common concerns and challenges. Among other things, the hope was to provide New York elected officials and candidates running for office (particularly those identifying themselves as progressive defenders of the public) with information and public input about the need to keep valuable public assets in the service of the public.

The November 3rd forum, which may be just the first that we hold, will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church, corner of Pierrepont St. and Monroe Place.  You can take the 2,3,4,5,or R to Court Street Borough Hall or the A,C to Jay Street.

Organizations were invited to attend and to coordinate inviting other organizations that are facing tactics such as the following when public assets are besieged and handed off for sale (help us identify other characteristically common aspects of the threats faced):
    1.    Deliberate underfunding of targeted assets running them into the ground, deteriorating them and driving away their constituencies.

    2.    Manufacturing crisis conditions and seeking to promote a “TINA” narrative (“There Is No Alternative”).  This can include overestimating or otherwise inflating repair and maintenance costs.

    3.    Opportunistically taking advantage of income inequality- Picking on and going after assets that have more value to a less advantaged and less politically powerful population than they do to those members of the population with greater influence.  Beneficiaries of these plans tend to be .01% rather than other New Yorkers.

    4.    Underestimate the value of the assets to the public.  As in the example of the sale of the Donnell library, this may result in assets being disposed of at far less than their true value.

    5.    Do top-down designed deals that the public will be the last to know about, part of a general effort to eliminate the public from discussions to the maximum extent possible.

    6.    Stacking decision-making boards with people who are unsympathetic to those served by the targeted assets.

    7.    Rush deals through (especially, as we have seen recently, at the end of the Bloomberg administration).

    8.    Dismiss alternatives to protect and preserve the assets.  (Includes obfuscating and ignoring better alternative courses of action, minimizing the downside of asset sales while exaggerating expected benefits while PR expenditures seek to capture the press and lobbying and campaign money is spent to win over public officials.
We hope to be able to work together to present elected officials with documented expressions of our common and related concerns relating to preservation of our public assets.  As the purpose of our efforts will be to get our story out, please consider whether you wish to contribute for distribution a short writeup of problems you feel your organizations has in common with others.

If you know of people working on this problem, we would welcome the opportunity to reach out to them.  We can be reached at 718 (area code) 834-6184.

Participating Attendees:
Jushua Barnett- Chapter 25 President of Local 375 Civil Service Technical Guild who represents NYCHA engineers and architects

Robert Rustchak- Save our Seaport steering committee

Christine Fowley- works with the housing organization Cooperators United for Mitchell-Lama (CU4ML), www.cu4ml.org

Jeff Strabone- Fighting LICH closure, Cobble Hill Association

Kristine Andreotta- Citizen Action of New York

Jane Wisdom- Douglass Houses, Community Center, 885 Columbus Ave, New York, N. Y. 10025

Crystal Glover- Washington Houses  Community Center, 1775 Third Avenue, New York, N. Y. 10009

Marietta Palmer-  220 East 102 St Apt 13A NY 10029

Theresa Kelly-  TA President, Carver Houses, Senior Center, 55 East 102nd St, New York, NY 10029

Dereese Huff- Campus Plaza, Community Center, 611 East 13th St., New York, N. Y. 10009

Thelma Yearwood- Meltzer Tower, Senior Center, 94 East 1st Street. New York, N. Y. 10009

Roberto Napoleon-  Baruch Houses, Community Center, 605 FDR Drive, New York, N.Y. 10002

Aixa Torres- Smith Houses, 374 and 388 Pearl Street Buildings, New York, NY 10038, Lower East Side

Jessica Thomas- LaGuardia Houses, Senior Center, 280 Cherry Street, New York, N. Y. 10002

Alana Pdalov-

Noah Gotbaum- Former President of Community Education Council 3/ Lincoln Towers, Amsterdam House

Theresa Hammonds- CEC 3 Member

Christine Annechino- President of CEC 3, Manhattan School District 3 Office, CEC, 154 W. 93rd Street, New York, NY 10025; Rm 204

Keat Fong- East Harlem vocational school, PS 199 M, 270 W. 70 St, NY NY 10023

Hector Nazario- President of East Harlem’’s Community Education Council 4

Will Sweeney- P.O. Box 579 Jackson Heights, NY 11372

Michelle Green- Long Island College Hospital, New York State Nurses Association

Carolyn McIntyre- Citizens Defending Libraries

Michael D. D. White- Citizens Defending Libraries

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