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.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Brooklyn Heights Association 2017 Annual Meeting- "What To Do In The Age of Trump"

BHA 2017 Annual Meeting- Well attended, but public participation "in the age of Trump" was not invited
This post will be updated.

The Brooklyn Heights Association 2017 Annual Meeting was held Monday, February 27, 20017 at the Saint Francis College auditorium on Remsen Street.

The BHA gave its neighborhood report.  That report contained no mention of the destruction of the Brooklyn Heights Library, the BHA's continuing support of its shrink-and-sink sale or the ongoing abuses such as the felling just days before of five neighborhood trees, at the library's Truth Park excused by the false representation that the developer had already acquired the property from the city.

Things were tightly controlled this year with no invitation for public questioning or input, except that, as part of panel discussion of de Blasio's proposed (and at this meeting largely ridiculed) BQX riverfront trolley proposal, the public could hand in suggestions questions written on index cards.  Virtually no time was devoted to those questions and essentially none of them asked.
An example of one of the many questions from attendees that were submitted, but never asked.
Not surprisingly, the BHA proclaimed with great solemnity how important it was to consider what its role should be "in the age of Trump."   Its answer was that locals should get more involved supporting the BHA and working for better schools. . . . We had a flyer prepared and distributed it to nearly everyone at the very well attended meeting that we think addresses in much more telling and pertinent terms what the BHA's responsibilities should be "in the age of Trump."   

Below, in both text and as a jpg is the flyer we distributed.
ALLOWING SALES THAT LOOT OUR LIBRARIES, (pushing our libraries out the door to plundering plutocrats, handing them over to developers) HAS CONSEQUENCES

It has been noted that if Steve Mnuchin had been vigorously prosecuted at the local level for his business’s mortgage fraud, misrepresentations, backdating and falsification of documents to rev up the pace of his OneWest foreclosure mill, he wouldn’t be Treasury Secretary, appointed by Donald Trump today- Similarly, had NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman investigated the shrink-and-sink Donnell Library plunder with Blackstone’s Stephen A. Schwarzman involved on the selling side and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner as principal financial beneficiary, those two Trump henchmen might not be in significant positions of power today.  The whole political landscape at the national level could be different, not to mention having healthier local politics.

When our local officials and organizations allow the corrupt plundering of valuable public assets, like the shrink-and-sink Brooklyn Heights Library deal modeled on the sale of Donnell with some of the same people in the background, it feeds the beasts who go on to prey on us in so many other ways.

It doesn’t serve us that Stephen A. Schwarzman, spearheading Trump’s economic policy, is also one of Senator Schumer’s biggest donors, just as Schumer’s wife’s connections with selling libraries and privatizing public assets also do not.  City Councilman Steve Levin misleadingly assured that he would do his job and insist on transparency respecting the library sales but, betraying his constituents, never has. Thus the lack of transparency in Brooklyn Heights helps Donnell sink unchallenged into the sunset (even as Preet Bhrara investigates the mayor’s play-to-play).

Meanwhile, five trees were felled at the Heights library by a developer who doesn’t not yet own it, while the Brooklyn Heights Association lets such library-trashing abuses multiply despite having sworn to protect the public. (The library was promised to stay open until it was acquired, and should be open even now.)

We can commend Irene Janner, receiving an award today, for her first CB2 vote against selling the library, but can’t let go unobserved the awkwardness, as the library stills hangs in the balance, of those two subsequent votes involving flip-flops where the BHA forced the library sale through,  overriding the original hearing.  WE DESERVE BETTER!
Sign our petition on the web: Citizens Defending Libraries

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