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 16, 2018

The 2018 Race For NYS Attorney General Could Be Absolutely Critical To Saving NYC’s Libraries From Sale And Plunder

Two rallies, at one Zephyr Teachout and at the other Tish James, each speaking against selling our libraries and each now a name on people's tongues as candidates for NYS Attorney General
With the extraordinarily abrupt resignation of Eric T. Schneiderman as New York State Attorney General, there are already three very well known names already on people's tongues as the likely candidates to replace him: Zephyr Teachout (who ran a surprisingly strong race for governor against Andre Cuomo), Tish James (current NYC Public Advocate), and Preet Bharara (fired by Trump from the position of U.S. Attorney and current WNYC podcast host).

Who holds the office of NYS Attorney General is important to libraries for two important reasons:
1.)  The NYS Attorney General  regulates charities, thus the libraries, and is charged with preventing the kinds of abuse that are now ongoing.

2.)  The NYS Attorney General has the power and duty to investigate fraud and abuse generally.
The issue of the sale of NYC libraries and the need to investigate is already charged as the names of several potential candidates involve prior history.  It is also charged because Eric Schneiderman, the NYS Attorney General did not step up to meet these obligations when Citizens Defending Libraries requested that he do so and informed him about what he needed to take action on.  See:
Wednesday, July 27, 2016, Open Letter to US Attorney Preet Bharara, NYS Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, et al: Use Your Staggering Powers as Law Enforcers & Public Guardians To Immediately Halt the Corrupt Sale & Shrinking of  Brooklyn Heights Library
All the possibilities are going to require greater reflection in the days going forward.  Among other things, candidates cannot always be counted upon to keep their campaign promises when elected.  An example in point: When first running for NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman made strong statements with respecting his intention to investigate the Atlantic Yards mega-project and abuses of eminent domain.  When elected, he didn't. . . .

Similarly, when Bill de Blasio was first running for mayor he stood with Citizens Defending Libraries in July on the steps of the 42nd Street Central Reference opposing the sale of libraries, but by October was taking money coming from the development team to whom he would soon give the second biggest library in Brooklyn. 

As for the libraries and the candidates in this race, we should note that Zephyr Teachout did a campaign event with us (Citizens Defending Libraries) when she was running for governor.  See:
Saturday, September 6, 2014, PHOTO & VIDEO GALLERY: September 6, 2014 Halt Library Sales Rally (42nd Central Reference Library) With Zephyr Teachout/Tim Wu Campaign- Barry C. Lynn Speaks on Amazon

Citizens Defending Libraries put huge effort into helping Tish James get elected as Public Advocate when she campaigned that she would use that office to oppose NYC library sales.  We even forced Senator Daniel Squadron, her main opposing candidate in the election to change his position to keep up with her.  We are, however, still waiting for Public Advocate James to take the truly significant action she could use the office of Public Advocate for in fulfilling her promises.  As U.S. Attorney for the Southern District it was understood that Preet Bharara was understood to be investigating Mayor Bill de Blasio's sale of the Brooklyn Heights Library (Once Brooklyn's second biggest) amongst other pay-to-play deals.  We still don't know what it means that de Blasio got off the hook days after Trump fired Mr. Bharara.  See:
Wednesday, July 27, 2016, Open Letter to US Attorney Preet Bharara, NYS Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, et al: Use Your Staggering Powers as Law Enforcers & Public Guardians To Immediately Halt the Corrupt Sale & Shrinking of Brooklyn Heights Library
Stay tuned. . . And when you run into the candidates, think about donating to them, ask them about what they intend to do to save our libraries from plunder and be ready to document what they say.

UPDATE:  Here is one more possible candidate for NYSAG: Tim Wu, who candidate for Lieutenant Governor was  Zephyr Teachout's running mate when she ran for governor of New York, tweeted that he is considering running for the office too.  Tim Wu actually got more votes than his running mate in that election and the New York Times endorsed him while not endorsing Teachout in that race.  Tim Wu, considered the father of Net Neutrality as a principle to defend, has written a couple of very important books about the monopolization and control of media and its ability to influence culture and commandeer our attention, plus a number of New York Times op-eds, including one (that we definitely noticed)  excoriating the privatizing take-over of the public sphere, libraries included!  And Tim Wu took a position working in the Attorney General's office so he has that extra experience.      

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