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, February 28, 2016

MEDIA ADVISORY- Citizens Demand Brooklyn Borough Board Postpone Critical Vote on Future of Brooklyn Heights Library- A Call for Transparency, Full Investigation of BPL Hoaxes & Bid-Rigging

MEDIA ADVISORY- Citizens Demand Brooklyn Borough Board Postpone
Critical Vote on Future of Brooklyn Heights Library- A Call for Transparency, Full Investigation of BPL Hoaxes & Bid-Rigging

New York City
WHAT: Citizens Defending Libraries and other civic groups to call for postponement of the Borough Board vote on the sale of the Brooklyn Heights Library.
WHEN: Monday, February 29, 2016, 5:30 PM
WHERE: In front of Brooklyn Borough Hall - 209 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn, New York 11201
WHAT ELSE?:  Citizens Defending Libraries and experts about these hoaxes will be on hand to provide facts about the proposed sale and shrinkage of the library.
Citizens Defending Libraries joining with library patrons, community members and good government advocates and other community groups, including groups from Sunset Park, will join together holding a press conference in front of Brooklyn Borough Hall to demand that Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and the Brooklyn Borough Board postpone the Borough Board vote on the sale of the Brooklyn Heights Library and not vote until there is transparency and a full investigation of the Brooklyn Public Library hoaxes and bid-rigging involved in the sale.

The Borough Board is scheduled to meet Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at Borough Hall and the community groups joining with Citizens Defending Libraries are unanimous that the board should not vote on the proposed sale and drastic shrinkage of the central destination Brooklyn Heights Library at this time and that this item should not appear on the board’s agenda because of the absolute lack of transparency concerning the ways in which this proposed sale cheats the public.

Recent revelations highlight exactly why there is crucial need for such transparency before scheduling any Borough Board vote:
    •    NY State Attorney General Schneiderman needs to investigate the complaint filed documenting that the custodial non-profit corporation, Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), is misrepresenting itself to have empty pockets while sitting on a gold goose egg in order to hoax Brooklynites into believing the fairy tale that there is no money to spend fixing the its libraries.  Love Brooklyn Libraries’ research indicates that BPL has sufficient funds to make needed library repairs and public budget reports reveal that BPL is hoarding $168 million in public funding while feigning poverty as a rationale for selling the Borough’s important second largest library.  The sale and any funds therefrom (plus other funds) are thus being soliciting on what should be considered a fraudulent basis.

    •    The New York Post just revealed information not available to the public, and not available to the Borough Board either, that not only was developer David Kramer (the Hudson Companies), a de Blasio friend and political contributor, a low bidder, he was 20% lower than the going rate in the neighborhood and 12% lower than another of the two bids that surpassed him.  His bid was inferior in other respects.  The competing bidders put the so-called “affordable” units on site, unlike Kramer putting them two miles away, but BPL and city officials further hoaxing the public claimed that the reason to allow Kramer to put the affordable units off-site was because it allowed them to pursue their priority of getting the highest possible monetary bid.  - Even this has to be put in context: Kramer was the low bidder for a library that should not even be sold.  He was only bidding for the value of the site as a vacant lot. His bid was no way and no how related to the value of the library to the public.  In another fundamental breach of transparency de Blasio and the BPL are selling off the library with no appraisal of the value of the library from the public’s perspective; this is a recently enlarged and fully upgraded library that would cost more than $120 million to replace, the city will net perhaps less than $20 million from its giveaway to Kramer.
These revelations highlight exactly why we need more transparency: The public must be able to learn how it is being cheated.   These revelations come after the expressions of concern expressed in letters coming from the New York City Comptroller and New York Public Advocate.  The new revelations show how prescient, and now vindicated, the concerns of the Comptroller and Public Advocate were:
    •    NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer (emphasis supplied): Mr. Stringer, the evening he said he would provide the letter, said: “We are concerned that this deal may not be getting the full range of value.”  The letter the comptroller provided says, “of particular concern” is “The lack of a comprehensive public plan to address the capital needs of the library system” andQuestions about whether the plan secures fair and full market value for the property.”  The comptroller also said the BPL, “has not provided the public with a comprehensive capital plan that explains how the one-time revenue from the sale of BHL will fix those needs.”  The Comptroller cited the importance of appraisals and said the City should take steps necessary “to ensure that BPL is getting full and fair market value for this public asset.

    •    NYC Public Advocate Tish James (emphasis supplied): “I am also concerned about the site being valued accurately and whether New York City is receiving proper compensation from the developer. Moreover, I want to ensure that we end the underfunding of our libraries and give our libraries the financial support they badly need and deserve.. . . . Supporting affordable housing and preserving public assets like libraries must not be competing imperatives. We should not be asked to choose between our need for affordable housing and our libraries.”
Citizens Defending Libraries and those gathering with it believe that an insistence on transparency in matters such as this is one of the most fundamental responsibilities of our elected officials.  At the press conference Citizens Defending Libraries and the others will thank Borough President Eric Adams and other elected officials for their promises that they will insist upon such transparency and will, at the same time, call upon them to follow though in their promises by demanding such transparency and ensuring the that BPL and de Blasio administration’s hoaxes and bid-rigging are fully investigated before any vote on the proposed sale and drastic shrinkage of the library are calendared for any kind of consideration.

Citizens Defending Libraries finds public sentiment in this regard consistent and nearly universal. Citizens Defending Libraries collected testimonies from over 2,000 individuals opposing this proposed sale and shrinkage in just over two weeks.  Citizens Defending Libraries has over 25,000 signatories to its petitions opposing the sale of this and other NYC libraries.  Citizens Defending Libraries also has a widely signed letter of support calling for New York City libraries to be properly funded not sold, signed by, among others: The Committee To Save The New York Public Library, The Cobble Hill Association, The DUMBO Neighborhood Association, the Boerum Hill Association and the Park Slope Civic Association.

Carolyn E. McIntyre, Michael D. D. White
Michael White, 718-834-6184, mddwhite [at] aol.com
Carolyn McIntyre, 917-757-6542 cemac62 [at] aol.com

Follow us on Twitter: @defendinglibraries

For photos and videos of prior Citizens Defending Libraries rallies opposing the sale, shrinkage, underfunding of New York City libraries, and elimination of books and librarians in the two and a half+ years since its founding, see:


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