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.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Links Respecting City Council land Use and Subcommittee Vote (and Steve Levin community betrayal) Respecting Proposed Sale and Shrinkage of Brooklyn Heights Library As Prototype For Future

This page may get updated.
Chalk messages outside the Brooklyn Heights Library asked Councilman Steve Levin not to sell the library.  More below.  He did, approving shrinking it down to 42% of current size.
Here (below) is Citizens Defending Libraries statement about what was at bottom a major betrayal of the community by Councilman Stephen Levin in a backroom deal.

The 'replacement library under Levin's deal, slightly larger (5,000 square feet) than the proposal modified by Levin's deal will be just 42% of the current library's size (63,000 sq ft).  It will be just 15,000 sq ft above ground instead of the nearly 38,000 sq ft above ground now.
Thursday, December 10, 2015, Citizens Defending Libraries Statement in Response To Councilman Levins' Decision To Approve Sale and Shrinkage of Brooklyn Heights Library (stated by BPL president Linda Johnson to be a "model" for future NYC library deals)
This is the media advisory Citizens Defending Libraries issued before the vote that provides substantial background about the decision before the committee and subcommittee and Councilman Levin.
Tuesday, December 8, 2015,  MEDIA ADVISORY- City Council Votes On Library Sell Off Program Prototype This Week- Should Brooklyn's Second Biggest Library Be Sold and Drastically Shrunk? Comptroller weighing in.
Here is a media advisory Citizens Defending Libraries issued offering breaking news background on the Council's imminent vote including information about Mayor de Blasio raiding Department of Education funds to help push the library sale through:
Monday, December 14, 2015, PRESS RELEASE & ADVISORY- City Council Vote On Library Sell-Off & Shrinkage Program Prototype Imminent- As Comptroller & Public Advocate weigh in de Blasio raids DOE funds to promote sales
Here is a press release and advisory Citizens Defending Libraries issued identifying questions the city council and press should have asked including questions based on facts newly revealed to the Brooklyn Public Library trustees the day before about the backroom deal pushing the library sale through.
Tuesday, December 15, 2015, PRESS RELEASE & ADVISORY- City Council Vote On Library Sell-Off & Shrinkage Program Prototype- Many questions to be asked about backroom deal involving de Blasio
Here is Citizens Defending Libraries statement about the City Council vote.
Wednesday, December 16, 2015, Citizens Defending Libraries Statement About Today's City Council Vote Approving the Sale and Shrinkage of Brooklyn Heights Library (stated by BPL president Linda Johnson to be a "model" for future NYC library deals)
Here is the press release Citizens Defending Libraries issued about the pendency of the de Blasio decision breaking his campaign promise.  In it you can read quotes of what key city council members said when they voted to initiate sale and shrinkage of libraries.
Sunday, December 20, 2015, PRESS RELEASE: De Blasio, reversing campaign pledge, commences selling NYC libraries delivering, in Grinch mode, huge shrinkage
Here you can read the letter in which Comptroller Scott M. Stringer objected to the transaction. 
Wednesday, December 9, 2015, NYC Comptroller's Office Letter to Deputy Mayor Glen on the Brooklyn Heights Library
Here you can read the letter in which Public Advocate Tish James objected to the transaction.
Thursday, December 10, 2015, Tish James, Public Advocate To City Council: "Supporting affordable housing and preserving public assets like libraries must not be competing imperatives."
Here is video about the decision where you can see:
1.)  BPL President Linda Johnson saying that:
- This sale and shrinkage is a “model” for libraries throughout the city, not just future BPL transactions, but also for Queens and the NYPL
- Councilman Brad Lander is “very clever”
2.)  NYPL president Tony Marx “Shushing” fellow library Johnson about saying that Lander is “very clever”
3.)  Brad Lander saying about these library sale deals that developers “must make a profit.”
Will Steve Levin Save the Brooklyn Heights Library?
Here is video of NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer expressing his concerns. 
Stringer: Serious Concerns w/Brooklyn Heights Library Plan
Here is where you can watch video of the relevant City Council proceedings:

    •    This is the City Council Land Use subcommittee November 18, 2015 hearing on the sale and shrinkage of the Brooklyn Heights Library.
NOTE:  This posting of the hearing of this video was strangler delayed.  Then it was posted (finally up around November 25th). Then was even more strangely removed (at least as of December 22nd while de Blasio's decision is pending).  As of 5:00 PM December 23rd it has been restored again. This missing, now back again video is where you can watch City Councilman Stephen Levin ask a series of questions about the value of the library property that speak of it only in terms of its value as a vacant lot to the developer and side-step examining the value of the library to the public from its perspective.
    •    This is the December 1, 2015 City Council Land Use subcommittee meeting postponing the vote approving the sale and shrinkage of the Brooklyn Heights Library  (nothing much really happens).

    •    This is the City Council Land Use and subcommittee vote on December 10, 2015 approving the sale and shrinkage of the Brooklyn Heights Library

    •    City Council vote on December 16, 2015 approving sale and shrinkage of the Brooklyn Heights Library
Here is Councilman Steve Levin's unacceptable explanation for his backroom deal, plus reasons to believe he was working for other side against the public's interest fro considerable time.

    •    "An Open Letter Regarding the Brooklyn Heights Library Project"- Obfuscation From Councilman Steve Levin Concerning His Betrayal of The Community By Approving The Sale and Shrinkage of Our Library


Do you find that when you are steamed you want to speaking your mind publicly to an elected representative who’s shafting the community?

Comments are possible on two issuances of Levin's explanation of why he sold the Brooklyn Heights Library for shrinkage.

You can comment on this Kings County Politics article:
    •   Kings County Politics: Levin Lays Out The Case Behind His Supporting The BPL Sale, December 30, 2015
And you can comment on Levin's own Facebook post of his open letter:

Here are press articles:
Councilman Dan Garodnick Tweet of Levin's "deal" making announcement.
In reading them, it is important to discern and bear in mind how many items in the basket of now-you-can have it goodies being trotted out to dress up this deal are being paid for by the public, not the developer.  They are being paid for by the public reaching into its own pocket and budgetary resources, not with money from the developer is paying for this public land.

Ponying up those public purse funds for expenditure now to sell this deal to the public is just a further lavishing of more handouts on the developer and it’s all without public process.  Really?: Should the Department of Education, without public process participation or review, spend considerable sums to buy back formerly public space, furnish and operate it as part of last minute backroom deal to make the developer’s thievery look good?

What’s more, to the extent the extent that the public is now being promised what it should have gotten all along, seven day service and “robust programming” at what has been a central destination library in Brooklyn’s downtown, it represents a cynical example of withholding public services, hostage-taking style, to manipulate the public into real estate deals something that Councilman Levin now seems to be endorsing with his wholehearted participation in these deceptions.

    •    Gothamist: After Closed-Door Negotiations, Brooklyn Heights Library Will Likely Become Luxury Condo-Library, by Emma Whitford, December 11, 2015

    •    Fort Greene-Clinton Hill Patch:  Brooklyn Library-Condo Hybrid Approved by City Council Committee- Only one City Council vote remains before the condo developer is given the go-ahead. By Simone Wilson (Patch Staff) December 10, 2015

    •    Brooklyn Daily Eagle: City Council committee approves Brooklyn Heights Library/ condo proposal- Levin sweetens the pot in library sale, By Mary Frost, December 10, 2015

    •    Brooklyn Daily Eagle:  Brooklyn Heights Library deal overwhelmingly approved by full City Council, Approval comes after three years of debate, by Mary Frost

    •    Brooklyn Daily Eagle: Levin pushes for bigger Brooklyn Heights Library at City Council hearing, - 'Most controversial issue' he has seen,  By Mary Frost

    •    Brooklyn Daily Eagle: City Council committee vote on Brooklyn Heights Library sale set for Thursday- All eyes on Councilmember Stephen Levin, By Mary Frost
[Michael D. D.] White says he is wary of deals.
"The public has wearied of `last minute' compromises that look like they were always contemplated from the beginning, and are basically last minute theatrics designed to draw attention away from the lack of public process throughout," he said.
    •     Brooklyn Paper: Council approves Brooklyn Heights library sale, By Ruth Brown, December 17, 2015

    •     Brooklyn Paper: Comptroller: Selling off libraries is not a sustainable solution, By Ruth Brown, December 17, 2015.

    •    Brownstoner: City Council’s Top 5 Concerns About the Brooklyn Heights Library Sale and Development, by Barbara Eldredge

     •    Curbed: Brooklyn Heights Library Redevelopment Gains Pivotal Ally, by Zoe Rosenberg, December 10, 2015.

    •     Noticing New York: Op-Ed: City Council Poised To Vote On City-wide Model For Library Sales and Shrinkage, by Michael D. D. White, December 14, 2015

    •     New York Post: NY libraries shouldn’t be selling land — especially to build ‘affordable housing’, by Nicole Gelinas, October 18, 2015.

    •     DNAInfo: New Deal For Brooklyn Library Proposal Includes More Space, New Library, By Nikhita Venugopal, December 10, 2015

    •    DNAInfo: 'Betrayed!' Councilman's Critics Write in Chalk After Library Condo Deal, by Nikhita Venugopal, December 11, 2015

    •    Daily News: EXCLUSIVE: Brooklyn Public Library deal reportedly falls short of market value, leaves NYC shortchanged, by Erin Durkin, November 18, 2015

    •    Daily News:  Plan to sell Brooklyn Heights library to private developer moves forward after Council reaches deal, by Jennifer Fermino, Erin Durkin, December 10, 2015.

    •    Kings County Politics: Levin Horse Trades For Bklyn Hts Library Sale Approval, December 10, 2015

    •    PoliticoNewYork: Deal reached on hot-button plan to redevelop Brooklyn Heights Library, by Sally Goldenberg, December 10, 2015

    •    Citizens Defending Libraries: CONTEST! YES, WHOOPEE, A CONTEST!- $100 TO BE AWARDED TO The Best YouTube Video of. . . BPL's canvassers retreating, caught off base, when library defenders show up to ask whether they are telling the truth!

Chalk messages outside Steve Levin's office Monday, November 18th: "Dear Councilman Levin we trust and and depend on you to DO THE RIGHT THING"

WBAI Radio reporting

    •    Report on November 18, 2015 City Council Subcommittee hearing, by Mitchel Cohen, November 18, 2015

    •    November 30, 2015 Interview with Steve Levin About Selling off the Libraries, by Mitchel Cohen, November 30, 2015 
This includes Steve Levin’s denial that a compromise deal was in the offing.  It also include the story (activism and Domino project related) he met his wife.
    •    Report on Citizens Defending Libraries December 9, 2015 Event Gathering Outside Councilman Steve Levin’s Office evening BEFORE the City Council vote, by Mitchel Cohen, December 9, 2015

        This includes a street performance of Judy Gorman’s Library Song.

    •    Report on Citizens Defending Libraries December 10, 2015 Event Gathering Outside Councilman Steve Levin’s Office evening AFTER the City Council vote, by Mitchel Cohen, December 10, 2015.
This includes Councilman Mark Treyger explaining councilmen votes and discussion of Stephen Levin sellout of community.
On the right at back:  WBAI's Mitchel Cohen- NY1 covering the same story caught Mitchel in the background as Levin was taken to task for voting to sell the library on December 16th.  NY1 ran this footage (and scenes of Citizens Defending Libraries holding signs in the balcony of the Council Chambers) when it took phone calls from a complaining public about the council awarding itself a substantial pay hike.
NY1 December 16th- Rebroadcast when council raised its salary

    •    WBAI News: In the news tonight the New York City Council agrees to sell of the Brooklyn Heights Library, Linda Perry anchor, Mitchel Cohen reporting, December 16, 2015 (Library story starts at: 3:24)
This segment includes Councilman Steve Levin being confronted in the City Hall rotunda over his betrayal of the community and the lack of transparency he promoted.

    •    WBAI "The Morning Show":  Michael G. Haskins Interviews Citizen Dfending Libraries Co-Founders Michael D. D. White and Carolyn E. McIntyre, January 7, 2016 (interview, the last 1/2 hour about 3/4th through the two hour show was broadcast at 7:30 AM).

after the vote, Citizens Defending Libraries updated its previous chalk messages to Councilman Levin to note and decry how the Levin betrayed the community by coming out for this prototype for selling and shrinking libraries throughout New York.
Sunday meeting after City Council vote.  Later we were joined by more for a holiday party upstairs
As background, here is recently compiled information about the Brooklyn Public Library board of trustees:

    •    Brooklyn Public Library Trustees- Identified + Biographical and Other Information Supplied

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