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, September 11, 2013

Results of the Primary Election- The Coming Runoff and General Election And Their Importance to Saving Libraries (Concerns Related To Citizens United)

Although it’s always hard to sort out all the pros and cons and not everybody always agrees on who the best candidates are it is good to note that a number of candidates that have spoken out forcefully against selling, shrinking and underfunding NYC libraries won, that includes Tish James, Bill de Blasio and Steve Levin.  Before the Primary Citizens Defending Libraries tried to sort them out here: Citizens Defending Libraries First Election Recommendation: NO to Christine Quinn, Who Favors Selling & Shrinking Libraries and Citizens Defending Libraries Recommendations On Other Candidates: Vote For Liu or de Blasio (Depending), Tish James For Public Advocate, NO to Squadron, and . . . More.

There will a runoff election for Public Advocate between Tish James and Daniel Squadron and there may be a runoff between Bill de Blasio and Bill Thompson for the Democratic nomination for mayor. 

The runoff elections will be important in sharpening, spotlighting and raising the profile of the library debate.  Both James and de Blasio have spoken out against the library sales and shrinkages.  The contrast between James and her opponent is especially sharp: Squadron, taking campaign money from the NYPL's Offensend, is favoring the sale of the Brooklyn Heights library in his own district and refusing to oppose other library sales including the CLP.  (See link below to CDL’s Public Advocate candidates forum which is worth sharing with others.)
*   Public Advocates and Comptroller Candidates Forum on Libraries Held September 4, 2013
Whoever is elected Public Advocate will be an important influence on the Mayor in terms of the future of NYC’s libraries and whether they are sold.  Tish James will probably win if her funding is reasonably good.  Squadron got his results by outspending Tish more than 2 to 1. On election night, Squadron wrote his supporters saying that raising funds to maintain such an unequal spending ratio was essential to his winning the race saying he needed to raise a substantial amount of additional money “in the next two weeks to be competitive with our opponent.”  (There's information at the end of this post about a Tish James fundraising event.)

We can also expect that an electorate informed about the library issues will vote fro Tish James.  Its very important for those caring about the libraries to vote and be communicating about these issues.

The Citizens United case, and the funding it unleashed, brought spending discrepancies to local New York City elections during the primary that should have most of us aghast.  The real estate industry formed a PAC “Jobs For New York” that flooded money into the races.  For instance, in the primary race for the 35th New York City Council seat (to replace Tish James) candidate Ede Fox (recommended by Citizens Defending Libraries and the New York Times) raised $125,484 from local community support, more than any other candidate in the race and close to the $160,000 cap permitted under election laws.  That was the sum total of her spending in the campaign.  Her principal opponent, Laurie A. Cumbo, raised $103,486 to spend on her campaign.  That should say something about the candidates’ relative level of support before the real estate industry arrived on the scene.  In the end, with money flooding in from the real estate industry Cumbo campaign was supported by $371,825 in spending, about three times what Fox raised.. . .  Not surprisingly Ms. Cumbo won.

Even though both candidates, Fox and Cumbo, signed the Citizens Defending Libraries petition and tell us they are supportive of libraries this is not good.

The chart below is from Atlantic Yards Report: Tuesday, September 10, 2013, The race to the wire in the 35th Council District: new endorsements, negative mailers, misleading "teams" with Tish James, and the Jobs for New York battleground.

Respecting de Blasio and Thompson, Thompson did not make it to the Mayoral forum on libraries (link below) and has not furnished us with assurance of his opposition to library sales the way that de Blasio has.  (Mr. Thompson is invited to get back to us with assurances before any runoff proceeds and anyone who wants might urge him to do so.)
*    Mayoral Forum on Libraries Held August 30, 2013
There’s news to communicate about how books are disappearing from shelves from all sorts of NYC libraries.  There are many, many pictures in the following:

*   Noticing New York: Empty Bookshelves As Library Officials Formulate A New Vision of Libraries: A Vision Where The Real Estate Will Be Sold Off (Saturday, September 14, 2013)
* Invitation From Judi Francis to those wanting to save the libraries: she is holding a fund raiser for Tish James for public advocate this WEDNESDAY, Sept 18th 6-8 PM at our home, 140 Pacific Street.

Regarding the run-off election (Tuesday, October 1st) Ms. Francis notes Tish, as the only true park advocate and environmentalist in this run off, is facing a huge funding disparity vs. Daniel Squadron.  Come, enjoy food, and donate as much as you feel you can (we request $100 but we know some can give more, some less - all welcome)

Bring friends to hear from Tish James what she will do as Public Advocate (everyone is welcome and we do have fantastic kale and highland beef sausage plus vegan dishes)
Judi Francis 917-864-5282
jfrancis9-at-nyc.rr.com. Vote Oct 1

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