|Steve Levin endorsing the sale of the Brooklyn Heights Library for a March 1, 2016 Brooklyn Borough Board vote while side-stepping making any demands for transparency with respect to this and related transactions.|
Citizens Defending Libraries has an open letter to Levin asking for him to demand transparency:
Sunday, January 31, 2016, Open Letter To Councilman Steve Levin About His Letter To Brooklyn Public Library Demanding Transparency About Library SalesThe CBID resolution:
The following Monday NY1 ran a story about how de Blasio's violation of the prescriptions of the NYC Conflicts of Interest Board by taking money from Hudson Companies while the Brooklyn Heights Library deal was pending (to say nothing of the squandering of a library- And the raid on Department of Education funds for Hudson!)- (There's a 1:00 PM, May 4th press conference on the steps of City Hall about such "pay to play" shenanigans by the mayor.)Resolution Calling Upon Stephen T. Levin To Perform and Fulfill His Responsibilities as a City Councilman And Demand Transparency From Brooklyn Public Library Respecting the Future of the Brooklyn Heights Library and Brooklyn’s Other LibrariesWhereas, the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID) recognizes the critical and expanding role that Brooklyn's public library system, and all its libraries, including particularly the central destination downtown Brooklyn Heights Library and other libraries threatened by plans that are oblivious to their value to the public and that treat them as real estate deals to benefit private parties, not the public, and
Whereas, in our growing city, our libraries play a critical and necessarily expanding role in the lives of the city’s residents, providing them with books, information, technology, meeting space and other resources and activities they rely upon to improve and enhance their intellectual, social and economic well being, and
Whereas, Stephen T. Levin holds the office of Council member for the 33rd District of the New York City Council and it is a most fundamental obligation of the office he holds to demand transparency from any institution such as the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) funded extensively by city funds, and most particularly when that institution is involved in promoting the sale of a significant and valuable city-owned asset like the Brooklyn Heights Library as well as other libraries, and
Whereas, in the fall of 2014 Stephen T. Levin represented to members of Citizens Defending Libraries that he would fulfill the obligations of his office in demanding such transparency, and
Whereas, on Thursday, January 22, 2015 Independent Neighborhood Democrats held a forum about the Brooklyn public libraries that gave special focus to the proposed sale and shrinkage of the Brooklyn Heights Library where representatives of the Brooklyn Library acknowledged they should be more transparent but the BPL never followed through in that regard, and
Whereas, Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats has previously passed a resolution on April 23, 2015 opposing the lack of transparency with respect to the proposed sale of the Brooklyn Heights Library and another resolution opposed all the pending sales of New York City libraries, and
Whereas, Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats has sign Citizens Defending Libraries letter of support that calls for greater transparency with respect to library sales with this language:
“Transactions like the sale of the Donnell Library, the proposed sales of branch libraries in Brooklyn and the now abandoned Central Library Plan must be subject to a much higher level of public scrutiny, one they have not yet received. A lack of transparency, and consequent lack of oversight by the public and its officials, gives rise to unanswered questions about the large salaries many library administration officials receive and the roles that they perform when they receive them. It also gives rise to many deeply troubling uncertainties about proper, equitable and effective use and allocation and distribution of funds. Selling and shrinking libraries can be astoundingly and unjustifiably costly in many ways, without providing any real public benefit.”Whereas, since the spring of 2015 Stephen T. Levin has repeatedly represented to members of Citizens Defending Libraries that he would follow through on his obligations as a Council member by sending a letter to the BPL demanding such transparency and an existing publicly available draft of that letter furnished to Stephen T. Levin makes clear what should be demanded in the way of transparency (including but not limited to the “Strategic Real Estate Plan” and the “Revson Study” and information about costs and a proper appraisal of value from the public’s perspective) and makes it easy for him to follow through by sending it, and
Whereas, the obligation and duty of Stephen T. Levin persist unextinguished notwithstanding that Stephen T. Levin has voted in favor selling the Brooklyn Heights Library without demanding transparency of the BPL beforehand, and
Whereas, it is bad policy that is exceedingly deleterious to the public interest for Stephen T. Levin to take actions that further any proposed sale of the Brooklyn Heights library or other libraries before he has demanded such transparency, and the BPL has responded by appropriately and timely furnishing such transparency giving the public a chance to examine its records, now therefore be it
Resolved that the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats call upon Stephen T. Levin to immediately, forthwith and without further delay, and certainly by a date no more than two week’s hence, demand such transparency from the BPL including by sending an appropriate letter to do so.
Resolved that the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats calls upon Stephen T. Levin to take all necessary and appropriate steps to follow up in insisting on such transparency from the BPL.
Resolved that the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats calls upon Stephen T. Levin not to take any further steps to advance the sale of the Brooklyn Heights Library at the very least until he has made such demands, sent such letter, and the BPL has responded by appropriately and timely furnishing such transparency giving the public a chance to examine its records.
Resolved the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats calls upon all our elected officials to similarly demand and insist on such transparency from the BPL and to take no further actions advancing any real estate plans of the BPL involving sale of the Brooklyn Heights Library or other Brooklyn libraries at least until the BPL has responded by appropriately and timely furnishing such transparency giving the public a chance to examine its records.
Resolved the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats calls upon all our Stephen T. Levin and all elected officials to similarly call for a moratorium on any actions advancing the sale of the Brooklyn Height and other Brooklyn Libraries until such transparency has been achieved.
See: Mayor's Nonprofit May Have Violated Directive from City's Conflict of Interest Board, By Courtney Gross, Monday, May 2, 2016You can view it via the link- Also here is some of the text from the print version-
Maya Wiley, the counsel to the mayor, says, "The COIB letter is clear. It does not prohibit solicitations from people who do business with the City. It only bars the solicitation of someone 'with a matter pending or about to be pending' before the City. There was a process in place to insure that this guidance was scrupulously followed."
Of course, the timeline in some cases says otherwise. For instance, the Hudson Companies gave a $5,000 donation in February of 2014. In September, it was selected by the city to build a new public library in Brooklyn.
|Senator Velmanette Montgomery presenting legislation at CBID to reform the Brooklyn Public Library board|
See the legislation below: