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 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.

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