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.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Testimony in connection with the NY City Council Hearing Re NYPL's 42nd Street Central Reference Library and Midtown Campus Plans Opposing Proposed Sale of SIBL, the Elimination of Books and the Surveillance of Library Patrons

Citizens Defending Libraries co-founder Michael D. D. White testifying
Here is testimony from Citizens Defending Libraries for submission at today's city council hearing respecting the plans for a renovated building to replace the Mid-Manhattan Library and Science, Industry and Business library.

The oral testimony of Citizens Defending Libraries is up on our Citizens Defending Libraries YouTube Channel- City Council Testimony 12/14/2016: Removal of Books From Libraries & Surveillance.

The entire hearing is viewable on the video posted by the City Council.  If you go to the very end of that video (at 1:26) you can watch Citizens Defending Libraries co-founder Michael D. D. White testifying and then afterward the exchanges he had with the City Councilman, first with Councilman Van Bramer about whether there should be concern related to the hiring of Booz Allen Hamilton and the possibility of the surveillance at the library, and then with Councilman Andy King about what information Citizens Defending Libraries would like to have forthcoming from the library administration and what Citizens Defending Libraries agreed and disagreed with about the plan, including the proposed elimination of SIBL and science books.

Also available on our YouTube Channel is the NYPL's CGI video presentation of the plan that incorporates some of the hearing testimony about the project and its overall $300 million cost: NYPL's CGI Video Presentation of Mid-Manhattan Renovation Plan.  We have also included in a clip of Ralph Nader concerning the politics of surveillance and the libraries from "Project Censored," and a clip from "On The Media" concerning data, particular science data  about climate that could disappear and the need for robust library support.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer:  "As you know. .  I am very familiar with the PATRIOT Act. . .we are the place where everyone comes to feel safe.  The New York Public Library, like the Queens and Brooklyn Library, have hundreds of thousands, if not millions of undocumented folks. . . .  You’ve stated your position, your concern: I understand it; I disagree with it."
This post may be updated to provide additional information about the hearing.

* * * *

December 14, 2016

City Council Committee & Subcommittee:
      -Subcommittee on Libraries
      -Committee on Cultural Affairs,
           Libraries and International Intergroup Relations
City Hall
City Hall Park
New York, NY 10007

Re: Submission of supplemental testimony respecting Oversight - NYPL Schwarzman Building (i.e. 42nd Street Central Reference Library) and Midtown Campus Plans and against the proposed sale of the 34th Street Science, Industry and Business library, the elimination of books and the surveillance of library patrons.
Dear City Council Committee and Subcommittee:

Last night at the Mid-Manhattan Library the NYPL presented design and plans to the public with respect to its proposed replacement for the Mid-Manhattan Library and the 34th Street Science, Industry and Business Library (SIBL). The proposed replacement, if you track your history, also replaces most of what was the Donnell Library as well.  It affects the 42nd Street Central Reference Library which has been threatened by the NYPL with serious destruction that would have included destruction of the core research stacks designed to hold three million books.  Those stacks are now empty, drastically reducing that libraries capacity to hold books.

At the presentation the NYPL said they would answer the public’s questions, but the NYPL refused to answer critical basic questions about their plan.

NYPL Won’t Answer The Question: “How Many Books Is It Banishing?”

Asked how many books SIBL used to hold, not just the other day, but before concoction of the Central Library Plan when we know that there were well over one million books in SIBL, and, similarly, asked how many books the Mid-Manhattan Library used to hold the NYPL refused to answer.   Whether the NYPL didn’t answer because they don’t know or simply because the didn’t want to, either is unacceptable.

The NYPL did answer one related question: How many books will the library replacing Mid-Manhattan and SIBL hold.  The answer was with the books that will be brought from SIBL: “Just over 400,000,” which is far less than even half of the books that were at SIBL alone.

At the presentation, multiple members of the public followed up objecting to the NYPL’s refusal to answer the question about the missing books.  One such member of the public criticized as a “PR locution” the NYPL’s repeating over and over again the phrase that “there will be as many book in the library as there are in the libraries now,” without answering about all the books asked about that have disappeared.  Another member of the public described in detail how she had watched books and book shelves disappearing from Mid-Manhattan with what seemed to be a concurrent dumbing down of the books available.

Additionally, the NYPL blithely said at the presentation that it had abandoned collection of science books, expecting that people can resort to “the internet” to learn about science instead.  This is at a time when climate change is probably the greatest threat to the continued existence of this planet and climate change and all of its possible solutions are undoubtably a matter of science.

NYPL Won’t Answer The Question: “Why Did It Hire Booz Allen Hamilton, A Top Spy Firm Working For The U.S. Government, Before Launching These Book Banishing Plans?”

The NYPL was asked why, in connection with its library reorganization plans banishing books, the NYPL hired Booz Allen Hamilton, a top private surveillance firm with the U.S. government as its main client, shortly after the NYPL’s board (according to its minutes) was advised that it was expected that the federal government was going to “require” the NYPL “to reengineer their Internet service facilities to enhance law enforcement’s ability to monitor and intercept communications.”

Also to be considered is why, with the Mayor’s office inserting itself to require it, all three New York City library systems engaged Booz & Co. in connection with reorganization that would involve similar banishment of books from library premises.

Will The City Council Ask These Questions?

The City Council is hereby advised that these questions have been asked and the NYPL has refused to answer them.  It is not as if these questions haven‘t been asked of the NYPL in the past; they have and were unanswered then as well.

You as City Council can ask these absolutely essential questions and insist on answers.  If you do not, you become complicit in perpetuating obfuscation and mystery to which the public should not be subject.

What we are talking about are basic issues of free speech, democracy and, especially urgent today, robust protections for freedom of thought.

We refer you to the articles (available on the web), together with our resource web page “Articles About Library Privacy and Surveillance In Libraries”  listed in the attached addendum, the first of which is also printed out and attached.


Michael D. D. White
Citizens Defending Libraries
    •    Noticing New York: American Library Association Issues "Advocacy Alert" About "Massive Privacy Threat" of U.S. Government Remotely Hacking Library Computers and NYPL Issues "Privacy Policy"- Is "Privacy" At Libraries Actually Protected? December 6, 2016

    •    Noticing New York:  Snowden, Booz and the Dismantling of Libraries As We Know Them: Why Was A Private Government Spy Agency Hired to Take Apart New York's Most Important Libraries And Turn Them Into Something Else?  October 30, 2016       

    •    Noticing New York: Too Close For Comfort? Real Estate Addresses- Blackstone, Booz Allen Hamilton, The Libraries & Bryant Park, November 16, 2016

    •    Citizens Defending Libraries: Articles About Library Privacy and Surveillance In Libraries,  December 6, 2016       
    •    Noticing New York:  Libraries And Climate Change: The Dangerous Destruction of Information We May Need To Know To Survive, February 11, 2014
Councilman Andy King, Chair of the Council's Library Subcommittee
From left to right: NYPL COO Iris Weinshall (Senator Chuck Schumer's wife), NYPL President Tony Marx,  NYPL Chief Branch Library Officer Christoper Platt (once worked with Van Bramer at Queens Library.)
Councilman Daniel Garodnick asking NYPL officials questions actually got more information from them about the number of books planned than the public was able to get at the presentation the night before.
Michael D. D. White displaying New York Times headline "Hacking The Democrats" for Councilman Van Bramer during their discussion.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

More on Privatization of Libraries and Other Public Assets- Trump Appoints Stephen Schwarzman To Chair Economic Policy

Noticing New York article: Donald Trump (Whose Son-In-Law Was In on Donnell Library Sale) Puts Library-Selling Stephen Schwarzman In Charge of Economic Policy, December 8, 2016
This is perfect. . .  Or perfectly absurd and perfectly awful.

If are a library defender you probably already know the background: both president-elect Donald Trump and NYPL trustee and Blackstone head Stephen A. Schwarzman are tied in significantly with NYC library sales, particularly both being tied to the shrink-and-sink Donnell Library sell-off.  Now the connection between these spiritual comrades is ratcheting up a notch: Trump has appointed Schwarzman to chair a panel (that Schwarzman is picking) to advise him national economic policy.

For more about this, what it means in terms of the vulnerability of our public assets and national  infrastructure to extractions of value by the one-percent at the expense of the many see:      
•    Noticing New York: Donald Trump (Whose Son-In-Law Was In on Donnell Library Sale) Puts Library-Selling Stephen Schwarzman In Charge of Economic Policy, December 8, 2016

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Guess What? Emails Withheld By de Blasio Administration Show de Blasio Fundraiser Putting Library Developers On Wish List For Mayor- Evidence of Guilt?: “Can we take this off official thread please.”

 We Facebooked it and we Tweeted it. - And it is turning out to be fun.

We said. . . . .
DOES THIS SOUND FUN? Want to GUESS what can be found in the hundreds of pages of recently released emails between de Blasio and Berlin Rosen concerning: Deals about our libraries, David Kramer, Hudson Companies, Marvel Architects, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, the Fifth Avenue Committee, EDC, The Springer spouses, the BPL, Linda Johnson, the NYPL, the Queens Library, Steven Schwarzman, Marshall Rose, Booz Allen, Center For An Urban Future, Goldman, Rivington Nursing Home, Brad Lander, Steve Levin, Brooklyn Bridge Park, the City Planning Commission, holding back on audits?

It may take your sharp eye and some diligent searching, but whatever is available in this first batch of released emails is available here. Of course, it may be that they are tactically holding back and that there is nothing here in this initial release, but we won't know without searching through. . .

Let us know if you are looking and we'll share what we find.

Mayor's Office Releases Hundreds of Pages of Emails Between de Blasio and 'Agent of the City'
By Grace Rauh
Updated Thursday, November 24, 2016
Our Citizens Defending Library team members have been reviewing emails (you can pitch in- contact us) and finding things, like in an from a high-profile de Blasio fundraiser, Ross Offiinger to de Blasio’s chief of staff Emma Wolfe putting library developer names on a wish list.  Evidence that this was improper come when senior de Blasio advisor Peter Ragone emails back “Can we take this off official thread please.”
The de Blasio administration long resisted giving these emails in response to the freedom of information law, delivered what they has so far heavily blacked out with redactions, and still has not delivered more.  Expect that they will have to be forthcoming with many more. As it was, these emails were delivered using a classic age-old tactic: A massive document dump on Thanksgiving Eve, hoping that nobody would notice.
Fundraiser to de Blasio chief of staff: Developer wish list with the names of library developers David Kramer, Bruce Ratner, Jed Walentas- Click to enlarge
The emails show two developers on the wish list, Bruce Ratner and David Kramer, that are both connected to the shrink-and-sink Brooklyn Heights Library sale now under scrutiny and federal criminal investigation for a pay-to-play situation where the real estate, already being sold for a minuscule fraction of its value to the public, is being given to an inferior bidder, David Kramer, sending contributions de Blasio’s way.
“Can we take this off official thread please.” - Apparently a demand, not a question from senior de Blasio advisor Peter Ragone.

As things currently stand, David Kramer is expecting to be the principal developer of the site if the library is torn down.   Bruce Ratner, already owning part of the overall development parcel (transferred to him by the city in 1986) is a gatekeeper of the transaction involved in the transfer of development rights being used.

Footnote on Ratner: Breaking news on Ratner presents some losing-the-devil-we-know news- Ratner is being kicked off the board at his company and the Ratner family may be on the road to losing control.  See: Atlantic Yards Report: Forest City Realty Trust reverses itself, will drop family control; Bruce Ratner to leave board (Pacific Park loss a factor?), December 07, 2016.

There is another developer on the email wish list involved who is involved with library deals, Jed Walentas.  His tower across from BAM, BAM South, has been involved in shifting plans respecting the libraries.  Originally, he was being assisted in getting a variance for his building (which he originally bid to get form the city as a parking lot) based on the idea that it would include a library paid for by selling the Pacific Street Library across the street from Ratner’s Atlantic Yards, thus freeing up the land next to the Ratner’s mega-monopoly for redevelopment.  Last time other developers and real estate owners were competing near his turf in the area Ratner used the city government to kick them off their land.

We have more we expect to publish here.  Our team is has a lot to look at.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Guardian wants to know whether your library is under threat.

The Guardian wants to know whether your library is under threat.

You can answer their questionnaire here: Guardian- Is your library under threat? Share your experiences with us- If your local library is facing closure or cuts to funding we’d like to hear from you, Tuesday 6 December 2016.

Even though the Guardian is an English publication you can answer.  In fact, because the Guardian is an English publication you can get some of the best news available about the United States from it.  It also, increasingly stands out as one of the most independent, and therefore incisive, press outlets in a sea of corporately-owned press outlets that are oh-so-very lap-dog in the U.S.

Yes our New York City Libraries are under threat.

The Guardian set up their questionnaire because the Sheffield Library (in the picture above) is now threatened by a sale to the Chinese that will turn it into luxury hotel that leave the art museum with which it is co-located for delectation by the patrons of the luxury hotel replacing the library.  Shades of Donnell?  Yes, that point was made here: Donald Trump (Whose Son-In-Law Was In on Donnell Library Sale) Puts Library-Selling Stephen Schwarzman In Charge of Economic Policy.

Libraries being lost in New York City?  Yes, many. That includes the Brooklyn Heights Library in a shrink-and-sink sale also modeled on the Donnell sale, and the 34th Street Science, Industry and Business Library (completed in 1996 contemporaneously with the expansion and complete upgrade of the central destination Brooklyn Heights Library.)

It's nice to know that the Guardian cares about our libraries under threat.  What would also be nice if the elected politicians who are supposed to be guardians of our public interest were also up to doing their job.  

Articles About Library Privacy and Surveillance In Libraries

As the articles mount up we thought it would be good to set up this page, which we can further update in time, with a collection of links about articles on the subject of library privacy and surveillance in libraries.

•    National Notice:  Snowden Revelations Considered: Is Your Library, Once Intended To Be A Protected Haven of Privacy, Spying on You? by Michael D. D. White, March 8, 2015
During the McCarthy era there was also concern about what books were available in the libraries, how readily available certain books were and concern about the political leanings of librarians working in the libraries.

* * *

. . .  the surveillance state is interested in something else: The surveillance state wants to know what you think and for that reason the surveillance state believes that libraries should tell the government what you read.

Librarians in Connecticut were the first to successfully challenge the PATRIOT Act when the FBI, along with an accompanying perpetual gag order to keep its actions secret, demanded broadly that the Connecticut librarians turn over to the bureau library records concerning what their patrons were reading and their computer use.

* * *

Now consider this: Changes are being implemented at libraries, and the changes are particularly apparent in New York City, that would make the heroism of these librarians wanting to protect their patrons' privacy virtually meaningless except for its symbolism.
•    Noticing New York:  Snowden, Booz and the Dismantling of Libraries As We Know Them: Why Was A Private Government Spy Agency Hired to Take Apart New York's Most Important Libraries And Turn Them Into Something Else? by Michael D. D. White, October 30, 2016
Essentially, although technically a private publicly traded company, Booz Allen is virtually indistinguishable from our government itself when it comes to surveillance, with as Bloomberg Businessweek said, the "federal government as practically its sole client."  The government's surveillance work is now carried out predominantly through `private' spy organizations like Booz: "About 70 percent of the 2013 U.S. intelligence budget is contracted out, according to a Bloomberg Industries analysis."

* * *

in 2007 the New York Public Library hired Booz Allen Hamilton to advise and help oversee a "radical overhaul at the NYPL involving real estate sales, consolidation and fund-raising." Sherman says that "in consultation with with Booz Allen" the NYPL made the decision to sell three major libraries, the Mid-Manhattan Library, the Donnell Library and the Science, Industry and Business Library (SIBL).   In addition, the plan involved gutting the research stacks of the NYPL's 42nd Street Central Reference Library which held three million books, most of, and what was once the core of, its research collection.

The four libraries thus being dismantled were the four most important central destination libraries in Manhattan. SIBL was a state of the art library just completed in 1996 and the Central Reference Library has last been expanded in 2002.

* * * *

If librarians were the first to successfully stand up and oppose the intelligence overreaching and if Booz Allen Hamilton "is really an arm of the intelligence community" involved with the federal government's "most controversial federal surveillance programs in recent years" then why was Booz Allen Hamilton hired to help reorganize the New York Public Library's most important libraries?

* * * *

Why was a top U.S. intelligence spy agency engaged for radical overhaul of libraries as we have traditionally known them?
•    Noticing New York:  American Library Association Issues "Advocacy Alert" About “Massive Privacy Threat" of U.S. Government Remotely Hacking Library Computers and NYPL Issues “Privacy Policy”- Is “Privacy” At Libraries Actually Protected? by Michael D. D. White, December 6, 2016
. .  the NYPL hired Booz Allen not very long after its board was advised of the expectation that CALEA might "require" the NYPL and "to reengineer their Internet service facilities to enhance law enforcement's ability to monitor and intercept communications."
•    Noticing New York:   Too Close For Comfort? Real Estate Addresses- Blackstone, Booz Allen Hamilton, The Libraries & Bryant Park Wednesday, by Michael D. D. White, November 16, 2016
. . .  the U.S. contracts out the huge preponderance of its surveillance to private firms, and mainly to just a few firms with  Booz Allen Hamilton regarded as the “colossus” of those few.

* * * *

The potential possible connections between Booz and Blackstone were myriad, but not necessarily easy to find out about or discern if they were there.  Frankly, it hadn't yet occurred to me that I should do some simple address checking.  Now that the landlord/tenant real estate connection is identified, what does it mean?  It could actually mean a lot of things. . . .
•    The Nation: The Nation: The Hidden History of New York City's Central Library Plan, Why did one of the world's greatest libraries adopt a $300 million transformation without any real public debate? By Scott Sherman, August 28, 2013
. .  what was the role of Booz Allen Hamilton . .   hired by the NYPL in 2007 to formulate what became known inside the trustee meetings as "the strategy"?

* * * *

In January 2007, Booz Allen Hamilton was hired to assist the trustees with "the strategy." On February 7, the trustees went into executive session (the substance of which is never covered in the minutes)
* * * *

Were Booz Allen's fingerprints on the sale of the Donnell Library and other "non-core assets" owned by the NYPL? In a recent interview,
[NYPL Chief Operating Officer David] Offensend was tight-lipped about the NYPL's association with Booz Allen . . .  “The primary reason that Booz Allen was retained was to help the library develop a broad strategic direction on a lot of different fronts." (NYPL spokesman Ken Weine won't release the documents that emerged from the NYPL's partnership with Booz Allen, for which Booz received $2.7 million
•    Citizens Defending Libraries: Physical Books vs. Digital Books, March 1, 2015

•    On The Media: Librarians Vs. The Patriot Act, June 5, 2015
. . . in the post 9/11 environment, America is like that. They are watching, taking books out of the library, and they are watching our library behavior. Under Attorney general Ashcroft. Things have changed.

* * * *

only six weeks after 9/11. At the time, 67% of Americans said they'd be willing to forfeit civil liberties if it helped keep America safe. Ten years later, only 27% would say the same. So, if the ALA poked holes in the Patriot Act - they risked public backlash.

* * * *
. . . mostly, librarians figured the best way to protect their patrons' privacy was to have nothing to protect. So after a book was returned, the record of its borrower was deleted, and they started shredding paper records daily.
•    The Nation: Librarians Versus the NSA- Your local library is on the front lines against government surveillance, by Zoë Carpenter, May 6, 2015
Under the Patriot Act, the government can demand library records via a secret court order and without probable cause that the information is related to a suspected terrorist plot. It can also block the librarian from revealing that request to anyone. Nor does the term "records" cover only the books you check out; it also includes search histories and hard drives from library computers. The Muslim-American who uses a library computer to correspond with family abroad, or the activist planning a demonstration against police brutality-those digital trails are vulnerable to surveillance, along with everyone else's.
* * *

[Alison] Macrina wants librarians and library users to be less complicit.

* * *

Librarians have frequently been involved in the fight against government surveillance. The first librarian to be locked up for defending privacy and intellectual freedom was Zoia Horn, who spent three week in jail in 1972 for refusing to testify against anti-Vietnam War activists.

* * *

Section 215 allows the FBI to request "any tangible thing" relevant to a terrorism investigation, without having to show probable cause that the "thing" is actually connected to a terrorism suspect. The provision applied to library circulation records, patron lists, Internet records, and hard drives, and it prohibited any library worker who received such a request from discussing it with anyone.

* * *

"The FBI is poised to intrude once more on library confidentiality, this time with an arsenal of surveillance that even our library confidentiality laws may not be able to prevent," a retired librarian named Herbert Foerstel, who'd helped to raise the alarm about the bureau's Library Awareness Program in the 1980s, warned in a Baltimore Sun op-ed in the spring of 2002.

* * * *

The rebellion eventually attracted enough attention that in a September 2003 speech, Attorney General John Ashcroft attacked the librarians directly, accusing them of "baseless hysteria." . . . .  Ashcroft used the word "hysteria" five other times throughout the speech, and then again a few days later during a speech in Memphis.

* * *

 Because of the gag orders, it is impossible to know how many other libraries have received similar requests. At the very least, the case of the Connecticut Four, like the Snowden leaks, validated those who refused to take the government's assertions regarding Section 215 at face value. Adam Eisgrau, the managing director for the ALA's Office of Government Relations, told me that as a result, we know now that librarians "were not hysterical, but absolutely prescient."

* * *

. . The digital shift has increased the privacy challenges. . .
•    American Libraries: Toward the Post-Privacy Library? Public policy and technical pragmatics of tracking and marketing, by Eric Hellman, June 16, 2015
Libraries have a strong tradition of protecting user privacy. Once all the threat models associated with the digital environment are considered, practices will certainly change.
•    The Guardian:  You are not what you read: librarians purge user data to protect privacy- US libraries are doing something even the most security-conscious private firm would never dream of: deleting sensitive information in order to protect users,  Sam Thielman, Wednesday 13 January 2016
Perhaps that sounds like harmless information, but Polly Thistlethwaite, chief librarian at the Graduate Center, said that guilt by association with controversial books has a long history and that librarians have a duty to protect readers of “heretical texts”.
•    The Washington Post: Librarians won't stay quiet about government surveillance, by Andrea Peterson, October 3, 2014
In the case of government surveillance, they [librarians] are not shushing. They've been among the loudest voices urging freedom of information and privacy protections.

Edward Snowden's campaign against the National Security Agency's data collection program has energized this group once again. And a new call to action from the ALA's president means their voices could be louder and more coordinated than ever.
American Libraries Magazine: Advocate. Today. One hour a day makes a difference- American Library Association President’s Message, by Courtney L. Young
We are passionately dedicated to our profession and to fundamental human rights like education, privacy, and intellectual freedom.
Slate: Long Before Snowden, Librarians Were Anti-Surveillance Heroes, by April Glaser,  June 3 2015
. .  Before there was Snowden, there were librarians.

Librarians were among the first to raise concerns about the Patriot Act while it was being debated in Congress. The American Library Association was a signatory on the earliest coalition-led opposition to what became the Patriot Act, which passed in October 2001. Within a few months, a University of Illinois survey found that 85 libraries had been contacted with government requests-and that's likely a low figure, considering that Patriot Act requests came with a gag order.
•    Waging Nonviolance- People Powered News and Analytics: How your local library can help you resist the surveillance state, by Melissa Morrone July 8, 2014
The third principle in the American Library Association's Code of Ethics is, "We protect each library user's right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted."

* * *
Google, Facebook and other major Internet corporations, by contrast, may be calling on the U.S. government to curb surveillance, but they have their own plans for how to turn our data that they collect and retain into shareholder value.

* * *

Like any other institution, of course, libraries are beholden to interests, which can inhibit their potential. Library staff as well as patrons are heavy users of Google and other big-data platforms, and in some cases these companies are looking to partner with libraries. E-books and digital rights management present privacy issues within library collections.  Library trustees often come from the business sector or other layers of municipal power structures and may bring correspondingly conservative outlooks to library operations.

* * *
Librarianship may be shaped by the broader society, but it is also marked by opposition to a dominant commercial culture. Librarian Barbara Fister reminds us that libraries do something Google and Amazon don't do: "We serve communities, not just customers, and our goal is the common good, not profits."
•    Brooklyn Daily Eagle: DHS head Johnson asks Brooklyn groups for help fighting home-grown terrorism- Concerns about lone-wolf terrorists `lurking in our communities', by Mary Frost, May 8, 2015
Johnson and Johnson: Brooklyn Public Library president Linda Johnson (left) hosts Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson's (center) event event at Brooklyn's central Grand Army Plaza Library.  Event was held as platform for Johnson (Mr.) to ask community groups to assist in surveillance because of concern for possible "lone wolf" terrorist attacks.
Saying that the global terrorist threat has evolved to become more decentralized and complex, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson met with community and religious leaders in Brooklyn . . .   at the central branch of the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza.
* * *
“We are concerned about . .  the so-called lone wolf who could be lurking in our own communities . .”
* * *
Brooklyn Public Library President Linda Johnson hosted the event.
Johnson with Johnson again: Brooklyn Public Library president Linda Johnson as host stands with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson's (podium).
•    Citizens Defending Libraries: Testimony in connection with the NY City Council Hearing Re NYPL's 42nd Street Central Reference Library and Midtown Campus Plans Opposing Proposed Sale of SIBL, the Elimination of Books and the Surveillance of Library Patrons, December 14, 2016.
Last night at the Mid-Manhattan Library the NYPL . .  the NYPL [at the presentation of their plans for the libraries future] said they would answer the public's questions, but the NYPL refused to answer critical basic questions about their plan.

Asked how many books SIBL used to hold, not just the other day, but before concoction of the Central Library Plan when we know that there were well over one million books in SIBL, and, similarly, asked how many books the Mid-Manhattan Library used to hold the NYPL refused to answer.  

* * *
NYPL Won’t Answer The Question: . . why, in connection with its library reorganization plans banishing books, the NYPL hired Booz Allen Hamilton, a top private surveillance firm with the U.S. government as its main client, shortly after the NYPL's board (according to its minutes) was advised that it was expected that the federal government was going to "require" the NYPL "to reengineer their Internet service facilities to enhance law enforcement's ability to monitor and intercept communications."

* * *
The City Council is hereby advised that these questions have been asked and the NYPL has refused to answer them.. .  You as City Council can ask these absolutely essential questions and insist on answers.

* * * *

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer [in response]:  "As you know. .  I am very familiar with the PATRIOT Act. . .we are the place where everyone comes to feel safe.  The New York Public Library, like the Queens and Brooklyn Library, have hundreds of thousands, if not millions of undocumented folks. . . .  You’ve stated your position, your concern: I understand it; I disagree with it."
 •    Washington Examiner: Trump likely to have Kobach, Kelly run DHS, by Gabby Morrongiello, December 6, 2016.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and retired Marine Gen. John Kelly are likely to be tapped for secretary and deputy secretary of homeland security, according to a top transition official familiar with the president-elect's current thinking, but the source would not reveal which of the two men is favored for the top post and which is likely to be deputy secretary.
 •    McClatchyDC: Reports: Immigration hardliner Kobach misses out on top Homeland Security job,  By Lindsay Wise and Dave Helling,  December 7, 2016.
President-elect Donald Trump has passed over Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach for the top job at the Department of Homeland Security. . .

Kobach, an immigration hardliner, was thought to be under consideration for the post. . .

. . . It's possible that Trump might still offer Kobach a role at DHS or the Justice Department.
 •    Daily Kos: Be afraid, very afraid: Kobach plan as Secry of Homeland Security, by VaallBlue, November 21, 2016.
Suddenly there is a lot less guesswork in figuring out what Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach  would do as a member of Trump's Cabinet . . .

For those not familiar with Kris Kobach, he has a proven record of conceiving and implementing racist laws on immigration and voter suppression. . .

On Sunday, Kobach made no effort to hide what he proposed to Trump if he becomes the new head of the DHS.

* * *

Item #5:  Disenfranchising voters. . .   it is clearly a plan to issue regulations about voter rolls along with amending the National Voter Registration Act.

Given what Kobach did in Kansas, it's not hard to guess that this is about. As Secretary of State, Kobach suspended or cancelled more than 30,000 would-be voters' registrations . . .

* * *
Kobach's plan refers to some use of the Patriot Act with some action taken to "forestall future lawsuits."  That sounds ominous.
 •    Esquire: This Is the Man Spearheading the Newest Voter Suppression Effort- Kris Kobach has quite a track record,  By Charles P. Pierce, August 31, 2016.
Kobach has been the guy that John Ashcroft tasked [when Kobach was at Homeland Security engaged in surveillance/profiling programs] with weeding out foreign travelers in the wake of 9/11-and Kobach's program was so deeply involved in racial profiling that it was shut down. 
 •    LJWorld: Democrats accuse GOP of vote `caging'- Republicans deny making list of voters to challenge, by Scott Rothschild, December 27, 2007.
In an e-mail message sent to state Republicans, Kansas Republican Party Chairman Kris Kobach reviewed the party's accomplishments this year.

In the message, he states: "To date, the Kansas GOP has identified and caged more voters in the last 11 months than the previous two years."

Mike Gaughan, executive director of the Kansas Democratic Party, said, "Vote caging is a pretty direct form of voter suppression."

 . .  In the past, there have been reported incidents of caging lists targeting predominantly minority districts that tend to vote for Democrats.

* * * *

But Christian Morgan, executive director of the Kansas Republican Party, denied the party was doing what Gaughan described.

"It's just a term of art," Morgan said of caging voters.

He said what the party has done is try to identify voters and their views on certain issues.

"We cage that person's information," he said.

Then when the election comes around, the GOP will . . .
  •    Project Censored: Ralph Nader, in October Berkeley CA address (recorded) about his latest book, "Breaking Through Power," December 30, 2016.

If you start out with 1% or less surrounding a particular issue that reflects what Abraham Lincoln called the public sentiment, that is public opinion, you're almost unstoppable. And if you connect on the left/right issues. . . . . Civil liberties, the PATRIOT Act, left/right with a vengeance. They don't want the government to search your home and not have to tell you for 72 hours or get into your medical, financial records without probable cause, or your library records without probable cause.

. . . You want to see a legislator or a lawmaker go pale and have the knees shake?: Walk into their office with conservatives and liberals and say "We are a left/right coalition." They don't know how to game you.. . They don't know how to game a union of both.  [Audio of this quote is used in our CDL YouTube video]
For an overview of how consistently government surveillance effect thread through the history of libraries in the United States see this article:

 •    First Monday (Peer reviewed journal): Libraries and National Security: An Historical Review, By Joan Starr, December 6, 2004.
The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks launched the United States into a new era of defensive preparedness. The U.S. federal government’s first legislative action in October 2001 was the passage of the . . . USA PATRIOT Act introduc[ing] a greatly heightened level of government intrusion into many aspects of ordinary life, including library use.

* * *
 An inquiry into the similarities and differences with the past may aid in suggesting a response . .

* * *

World War I . . . also brought with it increasingly restrictive information controls and a nearly complete stifling of dissent. Beginning in 1917, Congress passed several pieces of legislation designed to regulate information content and transmission. . .  declaring that any materials containing treasonous or revolutionary content would not be allowed in the mail. . .

. .   authorizing the establishment of an official censorship board . . the Sedition Act, substantially limiting free speech by making it illegal to speak, write, print, or publish anything critical of the U.S. government. Penalties for breaking this law included steep fines and incarceration. Throughout this period, the library community voiced no public or private objections . .

In addition to information restriction, military authorities also requested librarians’ assistance in patron surveillance. In the spring of 1918, military intelligence issued an order to remove from libraries any materials on explosives, as well as to report the names of requestors to the Army. Libraries readily complied, some developing innovative methods for reducing and monitoring access to the materials.

Indeed, librarians responded with extreme initiative, complying with both the letter and spirit of these laws and regulations. . . The pressure to conform suppressed nearly all dissent. The library community completely abandoned the very few librarians brave enough to hold opposing views>

* * *

World War II. . . came the 1942 War Department order for libraries to remove materials on munitions and cryptology, as well as to report to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) the names of individuals requesting the materials. . . .

. . . In addition, the Office of Facts and Figures (OFF), an early World War II propaganda agency, asked individual libraries to collect intelligence on public perceptions. Librarians were eager to participate . .  providing an "entrance of American librarians into the world of trenchcoats and the coeval emergence of information science and military intelligence in the United States."

 . . . librarians apparently considered privacy a peacetime luxury . . .

* * *

The Early Cold War and McCarthyism. . . What began as strictly an anti–Soviet book purge soon spread to any materials viewed as anti–American. Working librarians had to decide how best to respond to powerful citizen groups, and they debated the merits of book removal, reshelving, and labeling.

The [American Library Association] Council issued two groundbreaking resolutions during this time that provided the profession’s first substantial national support for intellectual freedom. . . intellectual freedom was a major topic, and "general sessions exhorted librarians to uphold democratic values of free inquiry and to combat censorship." The Council adopted the new Bill of Rights, asserting, "Censorship of books … must be challenged by libraries . . .

 . . . The second major document to come from the ALA was the 1953 Freedom to Read statement . .  a product of a large coalition of librarians, publishers, and educators. The statement asserted the value of "diversity of views and expressions," as well as denounced the practice of selecting books based on "the personal history or political affiliations of the author" . .   and clearly articulated the professional responsibility of librarians and publishers to defend intellectual freedom.

* * *

The Late Cold War and the Library Awareness Program. .  June 4, 1987, two FBI agents entered Columbia University’s Mathematics and Science Library and asked a clerk about foreign library users . .  the reference librarian overhead the request and referred the agents to the Acting University Librarian . . . who refused to cooperate with the FBI. . . . she reported the incident . . .

The story of this encounter broke in the national media with a front–page article in the New York Times . . .  The national media picked up the story, and it spread to "all parts of the country and abroad."

The following year. .  the disturbing information that the FBI had conducted over 100 background searches on librarians or their associates, many of whom were presumably "those who had criticized the [Library Awareness] program"

. . .     “documents show that librarians have continued to be contacted after 1987, that people who opposed the program have been investigated, and we are not as secure as we thought."

The year ended with ALA filing appeal with the Justice Department for a full disclosure of the FBI program . .  "We feel we have been grossly misled about the nature, scope, and continuation of the FBI Library Awareness Program"

* * *

. . .  in a parallel study of the public by the Pew Internet and American Life Project (Rainie, et al., 2002). By so doing, they were able to show that librarians are far more likely (67 percent) than the public (35.3 percent) to object to the federal government removing information from its Internet Web sites.
For more on the related issue of physical vs. digital books see out other Citizens Defending Libraries page:

  •    Citizens Defending Libraries: Physical Books vs. Digital Books

Privatized National Parks as Realms For Advertising? Tim Wu, Author of “The Attention Merchants” Writes About This And The Similar Invasion of Schools and Libraries In NT Times Op-ed

Tim Wu's book, “The Attention Merchants,”and his op-ed Sunday, "Mother Nature Is Brought to You By"
Advertising in our public parks?  In an op-ed in last Sunday’s New York Times, Tim Wu, writes about this and the privatizing takeover “spaces long thought inviolate” for the assault of commercial advertising, places such as schools, churches, our homes and libraries.  See: Mother Nature Is Brought to You By ... by Tim Wu, December 2, 2016.

Tim Wu, has just brought out a second brilliant new book,  “The Attention Merchants” (just put on the Canadian Globe’s list of 100 best books of the year.)  Wu’s first brilliant book, which also helped make him the official father of the term “net neutrality” (predicted to be under attack by the Trump/Republican regime), was “The Master Switch.”

Wu is a law professor at Columbia Law, but you may also know him as the candidate for lieutenant governor along side Zephyr Teachout when she ran for governor in the last race.  You may remember and have been a part of the event the Teachout campaign held with Citizens Defending Libraries.

It’s always good to have Mr. Wu helping us to defend libraries.

Writes Wu (emphasis supplied):
The spread of advertising to natural settings is just a taste of what's coming. Over the next decade, prepare for a new wave of efforts to reach some of the last remaining bastions of peace, quiet and individual focus - like schools, libraries, churches and even our homes.

    * * *

    . . .  the leaders of schools, libraries and even the more principled technology firms should understand that there is always a hidden cost to the proposition offered by advertising. Once an institution is dependent on ad revenue, it's impossible to put the Crest 3D White Radiant Mint toothpaste back in the tube.

    * * *

Advertising revenue often seems like “free money,” but there are enormous risks for the character of any institution once it begins to rely heavily on advertising income. History and logic suggest that, once advertisers become a major funding source, they create their own priorities, and unless carefully controlled they will warp the underlying space to serve their interests.
In his op-ed Mr. Wu suggests the very “model of individual liberty and a self-reliant citizenry” as proposed by our country’s founders is at stake when we no longer have available “sufficient time and space for self-development of character and room for making decisions that are truly ours.”

Among other startling things Mr. Wu brings up: Paid product placement in Sunday Sermons!. . .

 . . . Doesn’t that just turn on its head what Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping has been preaching about. . .  Reverend Billy may reach out for humorous satire in making his points, but don’t ever think everything he is saying isn’t at its heart very serious.

You’ll want to read Mr. Wu’s op-ed for its own sake (plus proposed solutions) and as a tantalizing teaser for what’s in store for you when you read “The Attention Merchants.”  The first pages of his new book start with a description of local government sell-outs that turn schools into partnerships with private corporations who promise to use the school’s spaces to advertise responsibly to school children about how they should ceratin fast food vendors foods and. . . .  That sounds so much like the Brooklyn Public Library trustees being told that librarians will have to be taught to unlearn what they have learned in library school about assisting people in their research so that they can concentrate instead of finding private entities to “partner with.”

(Tim Wu was at Book Culture this week in conversation with Mara Einstein, author of the new book: “Black Ops Advertising,” also about advertising that perniciously pursues you.)

Monday, December 5, 2016

Vote To Save The Tillary Clinton Library Buttons

Want to wear a reminder about saving the Tillary Clinton Library?

Want to wear a reminder about the about the kind of campaign that Hillary Clinton could have run that would have gotten her a lot more votes, gotten her away from her corporatism, aligned her with the people who want representation against a “rigged system” where the one-percent is plundering our public assets?

Want to a were a button to remind our local New York politicians about the kind of representation they need to start providing for success in the future: For Distribution At NYC Democratic and Other Political Clubs: A "Rigged System": The Case For New Democratic Leadership.

We have the “Vote To Save The Tillary Clinton Library” buttons you can wear.

What to Tweet a picture of the button to help remind people?: TWEET.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

For Distribution At NYC Democratic and Other Political Clubs: A “Rigged System”: The Case For New Democratic Leadership

Citizens Defending Libraries has prepared a flyer for distribution at NYC Democratic clubs and other political clubs: "A “Rigged System”: The Case For New Democratic Leadership."  The flyer is also good for distribution at events like community board meetings.

The text appears below (you can copy and email it to fiends and associates that way.  You can also right click on the jpg (picture) or pdf version below to print and photocopy it for distribution.  It is set up with two flyers per sheet to reduce the cost and use of paper by half.
You can download and/or print this jpg (picture) for photocopying and distribution.  By cutting it in half your costs will be cut in half
 Text of flyer (can be copied, including its embedded links, into emails) is below.   

* * * * *
A “Rigged System”: The Case For New Democratic Leadership   
Every notable candidate in this last election, Jeb Bush, Bernie Sanders, Hillary, Trump (and more Republican candidates) spoke to the voters about how the system `is rigged exacerbating income inequality. . . Between the two choices finally presented the electorate chose the threat of a Trump wrecking ball over Hillary’s status quo.

How “rigged” is the system?: Trump’s de facto campaign manager, chief political advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was a principal financial beneficiary of the sudden, secretively shrink-and-sink sale plundering the Donnell Library.

Did Hillary make political hay of the millions upon millions of dollars that went to Kushner at public expense via a rather non-credible behind-the-scenes “bid”?  (See: Hillary Clinton & The Winning Campaign That Might Have Been- Thoughts From Citizens Defending Libraries.)  Unfortunately, Hillary’s national campaign headquarters were adjacent to and, for real estate development purposes, actually a part of another library, the Brooklyn Heights Library (at Tillary and Clinton), subject to a shrink-and-sink sale modeled on the Donnell sale, some of the same people in the background.  Her landlord, Ratner, is a gatekeeper to the transaction.

That shrink-and-sink Heights library sale entangles local Democrats. It is now subject to a federal pay-to-play investigation of Bill de Blasio (Hillary’s one-time campaign manger) for his hand-off of the library to an inferior bidder who channeled him funds behind-the-scenes.  The shrink-and-sink sale, and the other similar library sales, have been supported by Brad Lander, and his fellow local councilman, Steve Levin, has perpetually refused what he once promised: To insist on transparency for this and the other Brooklyn library sales (See: Citizens Defending Libraries: Open Letter To Councilman Steve Levin About His Letter To Brooklyn Public Library Demanding Transparency About Library Sales).

Despite what Trump may have managed, Democrats should know that they handicap themselves immeasurably when they campaign against `a rigged’ system while embedded with those rigging and who give license to such rigging.

This last election should have should have been impossible to lose. . . Impossible to lose even notwithstanding the voter suppression that included a multi-state coordinated Republican-managed voter purge (exit polls and the number uncounted provisional ballots tell us it was probably enough to swing the electoral college result). But that raises another issue: How are we to effectively fight rigged “voter purges” when the Democratic machine similarly purged over 200,000 NYS voters from the rolls in Brooklyn.*

                               Sign our petition on the web: Citizens Defending Libraries
* * * * * *
(* We need to update the flyer, or you cane by hand before photocopying- a more dramatic effect: The number is now recently acknowledged to be more than 200,000 Brooklyn voters purged.)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Our Testimony To Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams About Proposal To Turn Sunset Park Library Into Another No-bid Real Estate Deal

This is Citizens Defending Libraries testimony submitted to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams today about the proposal to turn the Sunset Park Library into another no-bid real estate deal.

* * * *

November 14, 2016

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams
Brooklyn Borough Hall
209 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, New York 11201

Re:    Proposal to turn Sunset Park Library into another no-bid real estate deal

Dear Borough President Adams:

Since when do we have to turn our libraries into real estate projects serving real estate priorities, clandestinely conceived and managed ones at that?

Citizens Defending Libraries would like to think that since it shone a light and let the community know about the long-secret plans to turn the Sunset Park Library into a multi-use real estate project, that what was proposed became a better project in response.  Indeed, it is a bigger library, now proposed to be essentially the same size as what the shrink-and-sink disposal of the Brooklyn Heights Library, Brooklyn’s heretofore second biggest library, will produce.

But approving this project is feeding the beast that ravages us and it is doubtful that this is what the community wants.  At the Community Board 7 Land Use Committee hearing testimonies were so relentlessly supplied by people with economic and employment relationships with the developer and the BPL (now itself styled as a development agency) that the hearing officer cautioned that these individuals should all preface their remarks by noting their conflicts of interest.  As more and more “testimony” was given by people with such conflicts, FAC employees, board members and the like, they were told that they COULD testify, but the moderator suggested that they should refrain because they drowning out the community and usurping the limited about of time available to speak.  Still, more and more FAC trustees, employees and BPL employees spoke.

The BPL suggested at one point that they didn’t think that people coming from outside the community should speak, and, in fact, virtually no one from outside the Sunset Park Community spoke except that the majority of these economically interested, salaried speakers were exactly that: From outside the community.

It was the same with hearings, including those held right here last year, when the Brooklyn Heights shrink-and-sink scam was proposed.  The Fifth Avenue Committee similarly marched out its economically interested troops to testify that Brooklyn’s second biggest library should be sold to net a minuscule fraction of its value to the public, handed off to a luxury tower developer in a pay-to-play de Blasio deal that we all understand is now under criminal investigation.  Thus, with this deal, and the Brooklyn Heights deal, we see a perpetuation of the bottom line no-bid hand-offs that began with the Donnell shrink-and-sink deal involving Donald Trump’s son-in-law and principal advisor, Jared Kushner, as a principal beneficiary.

Why is the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) along with other real estate and interests adverse to those of the public interests allowed such influence and sway over the BPL and its board?  Why is  Jamie Torres Springer, a real estate-company-employed spouse of the head of the EDC, allowed to be the head of the board of the Fifth Avenue Committee, the developer here, helping to push so many library sales?

It is all too incestuous, far too conflicted and way too much against the public interest.

The Sunset Park Library deal was conceived in secret, arriving full-blown without community or public input, and has been rammed down the public’s throat.  It is a subtraction from what the public owns, a significant subtraction, from the assets of the library system.  The proposed replacement library, stuck underneath a privately-owned residential building can never grow in the future.  That would not be so if the proposal were instead to build a  publicly-owned, public purpose office building.

And the larger library that Sunset Park might get if this clandestinely conceived deal is approved?  That depends on promises the BPL and developer cannot be trusted to keep!

In the course of the ULURP process for the Brooklyn Heights Library sale (that went on here) it was promised that the Heights library would not be shut and moved to a smaller, less adequate temporary library until the developer had closed on the transaction, ponied up the money the BPL says (at least pretextually) is the reason it is destroying the library.  That promise was not kept.

The BPL promised that the library would never suffer demolition until the public was thoroughly protected against loss and the possibility of the replacement library not being built.  That promise is not being kept either.  The developer is being allowed to trash and demolish the library while it is still publicly owned public property.  The developer with the deal under criminal investigation is being allowed to rush, once again damning the best interests of the public. The BPL doesn’t expect the developer to acquire the property for another two months. .  if even that happens.

Because the BPL says what it will do with Sunset Park is dependent upon the Heights deal, those broken promises also directly affect the Sunset Park Library proposal now being considered.

And while we ask about the secrecy with which this and other library deals were conceived and pursued and whether that secrecy should be tolerated, we should also ask why one of the country’s top private spy agencies like Booz Allen Hamilton, working almost exclusively for the federal government, should have been engaged to be so intricately involved in the overhaul of New York City Libraries and their destruction. . .

. . .  Our libraries are supposed to be a public commons, a zone of free speech and freedom of thought and concomitantly a zone with protected privacies.  They are not supposed to be a playground for developers or at the disposal of anyone else.


Michael D. D. White
Citizens Defending Libraries

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Hillary Clinton & The Winning Campaign That Might Have Been- Thoughts From Citizens Defending Libraries

Clinton conceding the election today

What about the campaign that Hillary Clinton could have run?  The one that had she run she’d have been much more likely have won?

For example, one thing Clinton could have done was run a campaign that showed a responsible caring for libraries and concern about the plundering sales of our public assets.  Hillary Clinton could have criticized her landlord, Forest City Ratner, for being a gatekeeper involved in the cynical shrink-and-sink real estate deal selling the second biggest library in Brooklyn, the library standing right next to her national campaign headquarters which is actually, for development purposes, the same piece of real estate.  The library is the downtown Brooklyn Heights Library, but given the intersection where it is located you can call it the “Tillary Clinton Library.”

Yes, criticizing her landlord would have been biting the hand feeding her, but it would have been seen as courageous and honest.  It would also have freed Clinton up to attack Trump’s de facto campaign manager and political advisor, his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, for being a principal beneficiary involved in the cynical shrink-and-sink Donnell Library deal.

The Donnell Library, similarly sold for a minuscule fraction of its value to the public, was the model for the “Tillary Clinton Library” shrink-and-sink deal laying right at her doorstep.

Showing that she cared about libraries and fair play, Hillary Clinton could have called for that Donnell Library sale and the Heights Library sale to be investigated.

Yes, investigation might have caused some problems for her one-time campaign manager and fellow Democrat Bill de Blasio given his pay-to-play hand-off of the library to an inferior bidder.  Yes, pointing out the lack of investigation into Donnell could have been awkward for inert  fellow Democrats like NYS Attorney General Eric Schniederman or NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer. . .  That’s part of the point!. . .

. . .  Think how much more credible and independent Hillary would have proven herself to be.  And with a chance to lambaste Trump’s son-in-law/advisor she would have made headlines distinguishing herself.  The public cares about its libraries.  It cares about its public assets.  So long as Clinton was willing to criticize the shrink-and-sink sale her landlord was participating in, Trump could never have turned it around on her.

No, Hillary Clinton didn’t do this.  That would have been a different campaign.  Yes, it would have been a different campaign in all the ways that her campaign needed to be a different campaign overall.

It would have been a different campaign in all the ways that the campaigns of Democrats overall, and the representation they give us when elected, need to be a qualitatively different.

Maybe then, despite everything else they are up against, Democrats could start winning.  A difference they might appreciate.

Here is our Tweet of these Woulda/Coulda sentiments: 

HRC criticizes Ratner, her landlord, 4library sale - ditto, Kushner, Trump's campaign manager- &Result?


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Municipal Art Society’s Summit on “Public Assets”: Who Gets to Decide What They Are & Whether They Matter, Featuring Goldman Sachs and A Library-Shrinking Developer (It Follows Suit After Us But Goes OPPOSITE To Our Lead!)

Some of the "interesting" panelists at the MAS will follow suit with a “summit” on “Public Assets”: Who Gets to Decide What They Are & Whether They Matter.
It is infinitely sad to see what has happened to the once highly esteemed Municipal Arts Society.  They repeatedly prove they’ve transformed into a ready shill for developers.  In their present incarnation their faults already include a previous event and activity promoting NYC library sales and shrinkage disseminating misinformation.  See:
Noticing New York: Municipal Art Society, Once Venerable, Becomes Platform For Disseminating Misinformation Promoting Development, In this Case Backing Library Sales and Shrinkage, Monday, June 15, 2015
Citizens Defending Libraries has held several forums about the sell-off our public assets culminating in some, we hope, very worthwhile analysis (See: Our Public Assets Under Attack- A Calamity of the Commons Unfolding That We Must Act Collectively Against- How best To Express It?)

Library sales like that of the Brooklyn Heights Library are, in part, what prompted us to hold such forums on the threat to our public assets.  Now, (does this annoy you) MAS will follow suit with a “summit” on “Public Assets”: Who Gets to Decide What They Are & Whether They Matter.  Amazing to say, but the all day Tuesday, November 15th summit will burnish the reputation of certain people featured on its panel, including David Kramer the proposed developer of the Brooklyn Heights Library pay-to-play investigated hand-off and Councilman Steve Levin who put together the backroom deal for Kramer ) including a blank-check raid on Department of Education funds) that was revealed at the last minute.

Also represented on the panel?: Goldman Sachs a promoter of public-private “partnerships” where you-know-who gets to be the senior partner,  HR&A  Advisors, a firm with with something of a reputation as a for-hire-fixer is there as well in the person of Jamie Torres Springer. . . .

. . . Who is Jamie Torres Springer?  He is the husband of Maria Torres-Springer the head of the NYC Economic Development Corporation involved six ways to Sunday in converting NYC libraries into real estate deals.  It was reported that Mr. Springer was “stepping down as a partner at the firm” [HR&A] because of the resulting conflicts of interest (requiring a Conflict of Interest Board opinion 14 pages long, but that “He will remain an employee.”  The MAS summit titles his continuing “employee relationship” with HR&A as Senior Principal.” . . .

. . . Who else is Jamie Torres Springer?   He is the Chair of the Fifth Avenue Committee, the developer in connection with the long-secret and no-bid Sunset Park Library sale.-  Mr. Springer will be on the panel about weighing the rights of all New Yorkers.

And then there will be Arana Hankin of Atlantic Yards fame who when she was working for the government was “regarded by many less as an arbiter than an implementer of the developer's plans.”  (The first two libraries pushed for sale in Brooklyn: Both adjacent to Forest City ratner property.  And the person recommending them for sale to the Brooklyn Public Library? A former Forest City Ratner executive.)

Here is a list of all the speakers:
    1.    Margaret Anadu- Goldman Sachs- Managing Director, Urban Investment Group
    2.    Barbara Askins- 125th Street Business Improvement District, President and CEO
    3.    Afua Atta-Mensah- Community Voices Heard, Executive Director
    4.    Janet Babin- WNYC Reporter (Ms. Babin produced a WNYC report promoting the idea of turning schools into real estate deals like the library deals.  She will be o a panel about "weighing the balance."
    5.    Eve Baron-Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment, Pratt Institute, Chairperson
    6.    Benjamin Dulchin- Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, Executive Director
    7.    Adam Ganser- Friends of the High Line, Vice President, Planning and Design
    8.    Hon. Daniel R. Garodnick- New York City Council Council Member
    9.    Lourdes Germán- Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Director, International & Institute-Wide Initiatives
    10.    Sally Goldenberg- POLITICO New York, Senior Reporter
    11.    Adam Gopnik- The New Yorker, Staff Writer
    12.    Arana Hankin- The Goren Group, Senior Project Manager
    13.    Frederick Iseman-  Chairman, The Municipal Art Society, Chairman and CEO, CI Capital Partners
    14.    Stephen L. Kass- Carter Ledyard & Milburn LLP, Senior Environmental Counsel
    15.    Alyssa Katz- NY Daily News, Editorial Writer
    16.    Rasmia Kirmani-Frye- New York City Housing Authority, Director, Office of Public/Private Partnerships (NYCHA is using “Public/Private Partnerships” to privatize its public housing resources, in the process shedding some 14,000 units of needed housing.)
    17.    David Kramer- Hudson Companies, Inc., President (He'll be on the same panel with Goldman Sachs- "Financing: Private Means to Public Ends.")
    18.    Fran Lebowitz- Writer
    19.    Hon. Stephen Levin- New York City Council, Council Member He'll be on a panel "closing the loop." (i.e. "backroom deal"?)
    20.    Diane Lewis- Professor of Architecture, Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, The Cooper Union, Principal, Diane Lewis Architects P.C.
    21.    Roland Lewis- Waterfront Alliance, President and CEO
    22.    Setha Low- The Graduate Center, CUNY, Professor of Anthropology, Environmental Psychology, Geography, and...
    23.    Justin Garrett Moore- NYC Public Design Commission, Executive Director
    24.    Gina Pollara- The Municipal Art Society, President
    25.    Michael Sorkin- President, Terreform, Principal, Michael Sorkin Studio; Director, Graduate Program in Urban...
    26.    Jamie Torres Springer- HR&A Advisors, Senior Principal
    27.    Adrien Weibgen- Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center, Staff Attorney
    28.    Kai Wright- The Nation, Features Editor
We are not saying all of these people are just as concerning as those first mentioned.  It would be suicide for MAS if that were the case .. . .And would not serve to burnish the reputations of Kramer and Levin vis a vis a civic concern for the value of public assets.

It is more insidious that the company is mixed.

For instance, another library related connection: Fran Lebowitz-  At our February 14, 2015 Valentine’s Day demonstration and press conference protesting empty bookshelves outside of the 42nd Street Central Reference Library we invoked the name of Fran Lebowitz.  Ms. Lebowitz opposed NYU’s takeover of the Greenwich Village and she had ridiculed the absurd scene that Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden made as they, a billionaire and a millionaire, paced off what they thought was the very smallest amount of space a disadvantaged poor person could possibly live with.  We compared this to the attempts being made to similarly design the very smallest libraries that could possibly replace the ones we have now (video available: Valentine's Day- Open The Rose.)

The MAS policy for attending this summit?: It’s MAS "members" only- Not like the days of yore. . . .

. . . . We do not recommend becoming a Municipal Art Society Member (so we don’t recommend trying to attend the summit), but if you are concerned about this contact us, we expect to do something about out that day.