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, October 20, 2016

Scruffing Things Up As Fast As Possible, De Blasio’s Pay-To-Play Developer Starts Trashing Brooklyn’s Still Publicly Owned Second Largest Library

This week on Wednesday, David Karmer’s Hudson Company sent a crew of men out to start trashing the still publicly owned Brooklyn Heights Library.

This very important destination library is still city-owned.  It’s Brooklyn second biggest and with the substantial enlargement and full upgrading it got in 1993 it is one of the most technologically advanced and up-to-date libraries in terms of supporting computers and modern technology.

Why would the de Blasio allow his pay-to-play developer, apparently granting the developer a license, to come in and start wrecking, scuffing up and trashing a still publicly owned building?  Bear in mind that allowing this wreckage before the developer has closed on or acquired rights to the property violates the oft touted promises of Mr. de Blasio and his representatives and people like Councilman Steve Levin that the library and its public property would suffer no destruction until a full set of protections was put in place to ensure that the luxury condo and the teeny replacement library (a much more underground library) would be built.

Here are some thoughts on why this is occurring now.
    1.    De Blasio, the developer and the BPL board and honchos don’t want a pristine and perfect piece of public property sitting grandly and obviously unused on Tuesday, November 8th the day that people are supposed to go out to vote for Hillary Clinton (not Trump, Jill Stein or Gary Johnson according to de Blasio).  The library’s public auditorium has been a key neighborhood polling spot for sometime.  With its doors sealed there isn’t currently an adequate replacement which has caused considerable public complaint about the failure to use this obviously still available valuable public asset.  You don’t want people going to the polls in November more angry than they have to be.  And Hillary surely doesn’t want Democrats showing up angry or not showing up at out of disgust or discouragement–   This library is, after all, given the intersection of the streets where it is located, the “Tillary Clinton Library.”  It is, furthermore, immediately adjacent to the Forest City Ratner owned building where Hillary has her national campaign headquarters.  The building is even, for development purposes, part of the same real estate development parcel as Hillary’s headquarters thus constituting Hillary’s Forest City Ratner landlord a gatekeeper to the library sale, shrink and sink transaction.  Notwithstanding, Hillary did not answer our calls to come forth and oppose this privatization of public assets that was laying at her doorstep. – It is important to note that while Hillary can be scolded for how this library sale lays uncriticized by her at her very doorstep, Trump has much the same problem: The shrink-and-sink sale of the Brooklyn Heights Library was modeled on the shrink-and-sink sale of the Donnell Library (there was an overlap of the people behind both) and one of the principal financial beneficiaries of the sale of Donnell for a pittance was Jered Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and top campaign advisor.

    2.    Via the symbolism attendant with a cavalier degradation of the still publicly owned library, the city wants to help the Hudson Companies prove to banks and those from whom the developer is seeking financing and guarantees that the developer isn’t afraid of the investigations into his deal, including the criminal pay-to-play investigation by Preet Bharara’s US Attorney’s office.   The impunity with which the developer hopes to vandalize the library before he owns it is like a thumb in the eye of the investigators to proclaim that he doesn’t fear them or being held financially responsible for the astronomical losses that will be engendered for the public when he proceeds.  It’s a risky ploy.  The developer is not a good faith purchaser for value of this property and the world is adequately on notice so that the developer and the property can be directly proceeded against resulting in substantial losses sustained by those who do business with him on this property.

    3.    As an extension of number 2 above, the developer wants, with a toe-in-the-water or camels-nose-under-the-tent, to show that no one is going to stop him even as promises are not kept.  While he may not be taking final steps here, the developer would surely like to demonstrate that no one is going to stop him, even as he imitate without keeping promises.   He’d like to show that community won’t stop him and that public officials like Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Tish James won’t let out a squeak of opposition.  We buttonholed Comptroller Stringer just the other day and complained about his non-investigation of the library together with his failure to produce the BPL library audit he promised.  “I don’t investigate libraries,” he said.   We responded that his website, his press releases and public statements all represent that he does investigate corruption, fraud and abuse and the waste of city funds.  And Comptroller did produce an audit of the Queens Library where he went into details about much less significant matters comparatively involving just a few dollars: How the former Queen Library head improper used his library credit car to put gasoline in his other family members’ cars.
The head of the crew of men trashing the library didn’t want pictures taken or people walking on the public property near the library.  “You can’t do that!” he said, “they gave us the library!”

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