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, September 7, 2017

Democratic Primary (September 12, 2017)- Candidates For Mayor: Sal Albanese vs. Bill de Blasio

Sal Albanese, candidate for NYC Mayor, speaking Thursday to Save the Inwood Library crowd
What do Library defenders need to know about the candidates running to be the Democratic candidate for New York City mayor?  Sal Albanese and Bill de Blasio are running.

Thursday of this week, Sal Albanese was up in the neighborhood of Inwood standing with a large crowd outside the Inwood Library calling for that library to be saved from sale for development by Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration.
The Inwood Press Conference Thursday

The news of Bill de Blasio is far more disconcerting, really quite damning.  Four years ago the de Blasio campaign called up Citizens Defending Libraries and asked that we stand en mass before another library, the 42nd Street Central Reference Library, so that Mr. de Blasio could trumpet his call to halt the sale and plunder of New York City libraries.  He said:
It’s public land and public facilities and public value under threat. . . and once again we see, lurking right behind the curtain, real estate developers who are very anxious to get their hands on these valuable properties
But then, within weeks, even before he was elected, de Blasio was taking campaign fund from the development team to whom he would be giving away the Brooklyn Heights centrals destination library in downtown Brooklyn, the borough’s second biggest library.  (See: WNYC Reports Mayor de Blasio's "Furiously Raising Funds"- Including From Developers "Lurking Behind The Curtain" of Library Real Estate Sales- And WNYC's Money?)

As mayor, de Blasio would go on to pursue the sale of SIBL: That means an elimination of the city’s biggest science library, that will also result in a concomitant shrinkage of the Mid-Manhattan Library, the central library in Manhattan that is the city’s biggest circulating library from which so many books will then disappear.  Mayor de Blasio also plans to sell the Inwood Library in another redevelopment scheme just like he is selling the Sunset Park Library.

Four years ago, when de Blasio, Citizens Defending Libraries called up to ask us to produce a crowd while he proclaimed that he was against selling New York City Libraries including the Brooklyn Heights Library, he was trying to catch up with the other candidates for mayor running against him like Sal Albanese (John Liu and others) who were saying these library sales were as wrong as the public absolutely knows them to be.  (Previously, candidate de Blasio had blown Citizens Defending Libraries off saying he couldn’t be bothered with the issue of libraries.)

Do want to know what Sal Albanese says about library sales?

Sal Albanese has signed our Citizens Defending Libraries letter of support.  See: Support and Sign-On Letter: Full and Adequate Library Funding, A Growing System, Transparency, Books and Librarians.

Sal Albanese was eloquent at our Citizens Defending Libraries Mayoral Forum running against de Blasio in the last election: Mayoral Forum on Libraries Held August 30, 2013.

Here is Sal Albanese’s response to our Citizens Defending Libraries questionnaire back then: Response of Mayoral Candidate Sal Albanese to Citizens Defending Libraries Questions For Candidates For New York City Offices.

You can see Mr. Albanese at our Mayoral forum on video: Sal Albanese Speaks At Mayoral Forum on NYC Libraries (click through to YouTube for best viewing).

Sal Albanese Speaks At Mayoral Forum on NYC Libraries

Want to hear more about what Mr. Albanese has to say about the library sales?: Tune in the Monday, September 11th to WBAI Radio's Morning Show where he will be interviewed.  The topic of libraries is certain to come up.
Sal Albanese at forum by Mike Delia
Here is some of what Sal Albanese said at our Mayoral forum:
“These libraries are essential to the city’s future and we are watching the erosion of it. The real estate industry is running amuck, basically, in this city.  That’s what’s happening.  I’ve drawn a very, very clear line when it comes to contributions.  I am not accepting a dime from real estate developers in this city or the lobbyists who represent them.

Look, real estate developers are business people.  They want to maximize their profits.  They see these huge building, these great buildings, these landmarked buildings like the libraries in Manhattan and Brooklyn Height and they see dollar signs, but the bottom line is that government officials should be making decisions on the merits.

They shouldn’t be working with the real esate industry behind the scenes to sell these libraries off.  We saw what happened with the Donnell Library, it was sold off in 2007.  There was no public input at all.  Where was the City Council?  It’s easy to blame Bloomberg, but we do have a City Council.  We have a Public Advocate.  We have a Comptroller.  These things don’t happen by accident.  They’re not happening in isolation.  I mean where was the public hearing on these issues that are so important to the city?  The City Council does have a library committee, I think.

* * *

The political system is really broken and has really been co-opted by big money.  The New York Times has a great editorial today about the real estate industry is now piling on to get involved in City Council races.  They’re spending millions of dollars.  Look, they’re in business.  This is what they do.  It’s legal.  But elected officials have the obligation to represent the public, not folks who are trying to maximize their profits.. . .

* * *

Here we do things in an opaque way.  It’s not transparent.

* * *

Listen carefully to what all the candidates say.  I’ve said this before: They're outraged . .  They’re furious. . . They’re shocked.  You’d think they were block association presidents.  One is the Comptroller, one is the Public Advocate, one is the Council Speaker!  I mean I can’t believe the incredible nerve of some of these people, because they should be held accountable for some of the things that have happened in this city on their watch.          

* * *

The City Council should have held major hearings.  It was a major issue and no one seems to know where $100 million in capital money or how it got to that point without any real hearing or public input.  That’s the crux of our problem.  It’s a broken political system.

* * *
It’s just wrong and it’s bad public policy.  I mean, William Rudin from the real estate industry was front and center in terms of the proposals to sell off the libraries [in the Central Library Plan], and they see tremendous opportunities for huge profits like the sale of Saint Vincent’s Hospital so I think it’s bad pubic policy. . . .”

No comments:

Post a Comment