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, May 4, 2016

It's All Connected! Community Meeting In Brooklyn Heights to Inveigh Against Over-development and Trickery By Brooklyn Bridge Park Board, Marvel Architects. Connect The Dots To Libraries.

Wednesday, May 4, 2014, According to Mary Frost's article in the Brooklyn Eagle:
 A standing-room-only crowd filled St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church on Montague Street for a town hall held Wednesday night to update Brooklyn Heights residents about raging development controversies in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

These include two controversial towers at the Pier 6 end of the park - which advocates say are unnecessary to support the park -- the mountain-sized Pierhouse hotel/residential complex, which appears to be jutting into the protected Scenic View District, and the partial blocking of the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the Promenade.

The town hall was hosted by the Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA) with its coalition partners Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund (BBPDF), People for Green Space Foundation (PFGSF), and Save the View Now (STVN).
Councilman Steve Levin was at the event.  While he is saying the right things now, the question is how do we keep him accountable? 
See (and read more): Brooklyn Eagle- Brooklyn Bridge Park leadership derided for `broken promises' at Brooklyn Heights town hall- Meeting on development issues draws huge crowd, By Mary Frost, May 5, 2016

Here is other covergae:
Brooklyn PaperHeights Association: Sorry, we didn’t act fast enough to stop view-blocking park building, by Lauren Gill, May 5, 2016
Here, followed by the text version, is the flyer, emphasizing that's it's ALL CONNECTED, that Citizens Defending Libraries distributed to the more than 200 attendees at the event:
Click to enlarge

Monday, NY1 reported on the "pay to play" scandal and contributions (violating a Conflict of Interest Board letter) from David Kramer to de Blasio while Kramer hoped his Hudson companies would be handed a sale of the Brooklyn Heights Library.  That's in the context of the NY Post now having already reported that Kramer was not the high bidder for the library (being sold for a minuscule fraction of its replacement cost), 20% lower than the going rate for vacant land in Brooklyn Heights, plus the bid, topped by another bid 12% more was inferior in other respects. . . . .

As reporting and investigation of the de Blasio pay-to-play scandal grows, Marvel Architects, Kramer's architect for the 400+ ft condo tower to replace the library, is guiltily scurrying trying to remove from the internet evidence of the joint pay to play fundraising he and Karmer did for de Blasio.  Marvel Architects is the same architect as on the Pierhouse boondoggle . . .  And there's significant overlap between the BBPC and BPL boards, those selling park for development and those selling libraries for development.

It's all interconnected and it’s time for the Brooklyn Heights Association to stop hamstringing itself by pretending it not.

Ever since the BHA took its position favoring the library sale and shrinkage of the library emerging facts have made the case against selling the library more pronounced.  At its annual meeting this past February 2016 the BHA had three newly emerged additional major reasons to change its position on the library.  The BHA flatly refused to consider them.
    1.    The recent complaint filed with the NYS Attorney General's office showing that the BPL fudged its budgetary figures to claim poverty as a reason to sell and shrink the library when that wasn't the case.

    2.    The revelations about pay to play and Kramer's very inferior bid.  What's more, these bids were in no way related to the value of the library to the public from the public's perspective, because de Blasio and the BPL trustees were selling off the library with no appraisal of the value of the library from the public's perspective.  And it is important to remember that what we are speaking of is a recently enlarged and fully upgraded library that would cost more than $120 million to replace.- A library the BHA once fought to enlarge!!!

    3.    We now know the library sale proposal is also raiding our district's Department of Education funds in a significant unrevealed amount to sweeten the backroom deal for the developer paying the following for an unwanted  "STEM Lab" or "STEAM Lab" facility (really just a black box): 1.)  Acquisition of space, 2.) outfitting space, and 3.) running the off-site space.
In refusing to consider these reasons the BHA essentially shunted principle aside to come out in favor of corruption and bid-rigging.  It surrendered multiple opportunities to stand with the community in ways that would have stopped the library sale.  It has undermined other important goals essential to the community and what should be the BHA's mission of protecting it.

    1.    It undermined the fight against the sale of LICH (another public asset attacked by the real estate industry), which has now turned into the unfortunate Fortas proposal situation.

    2.    It undermines dealing effectively with the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation (the board of which has startling overlaps with the board of the Brooklyn Public Library), which means less effective opposition to:
            i.    The Pierhouse overbuilding in Brooklyn Bridge Park
            ii.    The Pier 6 overbuilding in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

    3.    It undermined the opposition to the 75 Henry Street Pineapple Walk proposal, an almost nearly identical proposed luxury tower casting a long shadow on Cadman Plaza (this time on privately owned property, not selling a publicly-owned asset).

    4.    The BHA, acting like an unpredictable wildcard, undermines our efforts to keep our elected officials accountable and honest with people at the office of Councilman Steve Levin, who betrayed the community on the library sale, sometimes fielding phone calls saying things like: `Yes, 95% of the community is opposed to the library sale, but the BHA favors it and they are very powerful.'
Sign our petition on the web: Citizens Defending Libraries
To great everyone entering for the event the Brooklyn Heights Association stationed one of its foremost library sale and shrinkage proponents, BHA trustee (and ahcitect and Saint Ann's School parent) Erika Belsey Worth.  Remember that Saint Ann's School is getting a mega-windfall if the library is sold and shrunk.
BHA board member library sale and shrinkage proponent Erika Belsey Worth in position to greet everyone at the door.
Here is a question submitted on the supplied cards from Citizens Defending Libraries co-founder Michael D. D. White.  After staring it perturbedly for a long time BHA President Patrck Killackey deep-sixed it with the questions no to be asked.  No matter, moderator Judi Francis called upon White to answer the question orally.

Is the sum greater than the parts?  Should we connect the dots?   Are we strongest uniting in these fights because its all the same "pay to play" investigations and same people being investigated?  Judi Francis answered yes and commended to the audience the coalition group New Yorkers for a Human Scale City that had just hours before had a very well covered press conference on the steps of City Hall with member groups like Citizens Defending Libraries and Save the View Now participating.  Save the View Now's Steve Guterman's remarks at that earlier event got even better coverage than his eloquence at the evening Brooklyn Heights event.

The meeting's PowerPoint presentation was also valuable.

Steve Guterman earlier in the day on BrooklynNews12, also covered by the NY Post, Daily New and NY1
Attendees were also handed a letter to sign to Mayor de Blasio.  It was beautifully written but could creatively added to remind de Blasio that it is also a betrayal on his part to be selling our libraries like Brooklyn Heights (see below).  For instance, "it is hard to imagine a more obvious progressive cause than parks". . . .  ADD: except probably libraries!
As attendees left at the end of the night they got to appreciate the same Citizens Defending Libraries banners that had been unfurled on the steps of City Hall that afternoon like "Community Needs Over Dveleoper Greed."

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