FRIDAY, April 25th, 11:00 AM-1:00 PM
Canvass with Eric Shtob
Brooklyn Heights Library 280 Cadman Plaza, 2,3,4,5, R to Court St Borough Hall, A,C to High St
Eric will greet you and supply flyersContact Eric (718) 594-7046, firstname.lastname@example.org
SATURDAY, April 26, 9:45 AM all day
CSNYPL Is hosting the ninth, "work-in" protest 42nd St Library Rose Reading Room Matthew Zadrozny, featured in Humans of New York facebook page with over half million likes has scheduled the "work-ins" to protest the CLP on Meetup. Please join the group at work, for at least part of the day.
RSVP here meetup.com/savenypl
SUNDAY, April 27th from 2pm to 5pm
Daniel Squadron: Please join me at my Sixth Annual Community Convention, to be part of setting my priorities in Albany
Seward Park Educational Campus 350 Grand St. (Btwn Ludlow and Essex).
Contact my office at 212-298-5565 or emailing me at email@example.com
Join us to Canvass from 1:30-2:15, contact Michael 917-885-1478, firstname.lastname@example.org
* TUESDAY, April 29, 6:00-8:00 PM
CDL meeting, 101 Clark St, community room
Kristina Andreotta from Citizen Action of New York is coming to help us brain storm and organize so come with ideas and be ready to be involved!
2,3 to Clark St, 4,5,R to Court St Borough Hall A, C to High St,
contact Carolyn or Michael 718-834-6184, (no meeting April 27)
WEDNESDAY April 30, 6:00-8:00 PM
Town Hall Meeting with Helen Rosenthal
John Jay College 524 59th Street between 10th & 11th Ave
You don't need to RSVP, but if you'd like to, you can RSVP and submit questions on my website.
SATURDAY, May 2, 1:00-4:00 PM
Canvass with Eric Shtob
Steps of Grand Army Plaza Library
Eric will greet you and supply flyersContact Eric (718) 594-7046, email@example.com
From the Committee to Save New York Public Library, "This week's major development: A third lawsuit has just been filed, another in which Citizens Defending Libraries is a Plaintiff, challenging the rubber-stamp environmental review of NYPL's plan" read ... Wall Street Journal coverage here
Lawsuit Questions NYPL Overhaul Filing Criticizes 'Bureaucratic Rubber-Stamping' on NYPL Project's Environmental Review By Jennifer Maloney, April 16, 2014
The New York Times article about the new lawsuit quotes this from our complaint: Rather than a "hard look" analysis at the potential environmental impact of the library's plans, the petition said, the administration's determination on the plan "is no better than a hastily prepared book report that a group of fourth-grade boys might have rushed to complete after an extended game of kickball during recess."
See: Lawsuit Aims to Derail New York Library Plan, By Robin Pogrebin, April 17, 2014
ON April 17th Mayor de Blasio was interviewed at an event at NYU, his alma mata, and said that he thinks the “deep seated challenges of inequality” need to be addressed locally, that inequality of opportunity (example- education) threatens cohesion of our society. After school programs are extraordinarily powerful in multiple ways, and he believes that spending taxpayer money should be transparent with the public able to see where it goes.
We think that all of these are reasons why the Bloomberg agenda of selling, shrinking and underfunding libraries should not go forward. The $350+ million (perhaps even a half billion in library money, with $150 million in new taxpayer money) that the NYPL wants for its Central Library Plan, with no workable version or details should instead go to local library branches throughout the city.
* Excellent Open Letter To BP Adams from Doreen Gallo in Brooklyn Eagle: Don't sell off our libraries. Link here (post your comments!)
Among other things Ms. Gallo says: . . . the Brooklyn Public Library Community Advisory Council (CAC), which . . formed after the decision to sell off our libraries to developers was decided by a select few. The majority of our constituents are against the sale and corresponding physical shrinkage of our library. . .
** See also the Brooklyn Heights Blog response to Doreen's letter. Post a Comment! (And see some of the comments that read like they were commissioned by the real estate industry!)
** We have been informed that legislation (Assembly bill 9241 and Senate Bill S6931) has been introduced in Albany that, if passed, would let the Domitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) finance projects of the Brooklyn Public Library among those eligible for the financing of projects through the Dormitory Authority.- Introduction, even passage, of this bill is not the end of the story. It is impossible to issue bonds for capital improvements unless there is an identifiable income stream to pay them off, an impediment that remains while libraries continue to be underfunded. We also hope that bonds would only be used for good purposes, not to help sell libraries off.- (You never know with these Wall Street guys.) The Legislation was sponsored in the State Assembly by Lentol, Brennan Cymbrowitz, Abate, Brook-Kransy, Camara, Davila, Jacobs, Millman, and Mosley, and in the Senate by Marty Golden who has a history of connections to Forest City Ratner.
Do you know who the library Trustees are?
Libraries are the beacons of light offering equal opportunity in getting an affordable education, knowledge and skills, help with finding a job, and offering a safe haven for teens and seniors.
We believe that the current NYPL and BPL Trustee leaders are not about holding equal opportunity as one of the key and most importnat objectives of the system. Looking at some of their business relationships, and careers, the boards are beginning to look more like real estate moguls where the libraries are viewed more as one more inter-connected businesses than a true library board.
Trustee Stephen Schwarzman is CEO of the Blackstone Group, the hedge fund and private equity company that includes as just one of its real estate connected businesses, the world’s largest real estate investment firm. Schwarzman is on the nominating committee for the NYPL board and furnished $100 million to the library in connection with the Central Library Plan to sell off, shrink and dismantle libraries worth much more than his donation. These are libraries painstakingly and carefully built over many decades from the truely civic minded donors.
Now the BPL is connected to Schwarzman’s Blackstone business via the new trustee appointment of attorney Hank Guttman, of Simpson, Thatcher and Bartlett law firm. That law firm has tight connections with Blackstone, representing it since it began. Blackstone is, among other things, invested in luxury hotels and condos and has six other branches of business that inter relate with their real estate businesses. About six months before Donnell Library was sold off, rumors were published in the real estate press that Blackstone was going to buy a company that suddenly and secretively bought Donnell. We don't know the real story of what happened. The current owner of Donnell is Starwood which is also building a hotel in Brooklyn Bridge Park that winds up being another relationship with Hank Guttman, David Offensend, and Peter Aschkenasy. All three are pushing for library sales.
David Offensend just stepped down as NYPL COO and was responsible for the sale of Donnell, the Central Library Plan and the sale of the NYPL art, including the highly questionable sale of the NYPL’s Kindred Spirits for $35 million to Walmart family heir Alice Walton. Offensend was a principal of Evercore, a spinoff of the Blackstone Group.
NYPL Trustee, Marshall Rose, of the Rose real estate family for whom the Rose Reading Room is named, is also supporting the sell-off of libraries.
Peter Aschkenasy, on the board of BPL and its Treasurer, is a restauranteur involved in politics and real estate (former owner of Gage and Tollner and the Grand Central Oyster Bar). Jordan Barowitz, also on the BPL board, and a former spokesperson for Bloomberg, is with the Durst Organization, one of New York’s largest real estate companies.
Some people are concerned that Blackstone is trying to corner the market on forclosed homes in America and that rents will be driven up.
Here are some more disturbing facts about Blackstone. They invested with Fortress in privatizing prisons. They were also a lead investment group for Corrections Corporation of America. CCA has been in the news for egregious abuse of inmates, numerous escapes, and using PR and donations to politicians to confuse and fight the public who were trying to stop or reform private prisons.
Libraries help keep people out prison by providing safe havens and quiet spaces to read. So if you are a business trying to expand private prisons then there is a conflict of interest if you are on a board trying to shrink and sell off libraries. "Crime is down 40% but the prison population has quadrupled" said by Matt Taibbi who wrote The Divide, American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap, Bill Maher show April 11, 2014. Bill goes on to that the rich never go to prison now, but the poor do.
Blackstone is also invested in fracking and the UN has just issued a report that if the US does not get its politics straight on the environment, we all lose out on protecting the earth for our children. When Stephen Schwartzman was on Charlie Rose last summer, he bragged about Blackstone having the most real estate holdings, talked about the benefits of fracking, and selling libraries.
We need to ask Mayor Bill de Blasio and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams to exercise control and influence over the BPL board of Trustees. Each of them can appoint up to one-third of the board and so far neither has made any appointments. So as a result, BPL trustees just picked Nicholas A. Gravante, Jr. as new Board Chair. Gravante is the defense attorney that won acquittals for several real estate companies indicted under the law that requires accurate representations when selling real estate!
The NYPL board is self-appointing. Nevertheless, most of its operational funds come from the city. We can ask our elected representatives to look into the obvious conflict of interest issues and these failures of policy and competence as the trustees become increasingly preoccupied with selling and shrinking libraries and handing off public assets. The public deserves to have library boards they can trust instead of the current leadership that shows more concern for promoting the sale of public libraries for private gain than anything else.
The more we allow our public assets to be sold off, the more we fuel inequality. The more we fuel inequality, the more we shrink access to elected officials and the more unequal all the opportunities in society become. It is hard to find a better example of this than the sell-off and shrinkage of libraries (stealing from the poor amd middle class) and replacing the libraries with luxury hotels and condos for the 1%, all orchestrated and motivated by greed.
"Information is the currency of democracy", Thomas Jefferson.
What You Can Do
Contact Eric Adams office, email firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, (718) 284-4700to ask him to exercise his right to choose BPL Trustees and urge him to pick ones who serve the public interest.
Contact Mayor Bill de Blasio, 311 and sign the CSNYPL, CDL, and Library Lovers League letter to him at this linkwww.savenypl.org/email-the-mayor
Did you see the picture the kids were drawing at this year’s Brooklyn Gowanus Grind? Link here with more pictures on our Citizens Defending Libraries Facebook page and Twitter stream.
Thank you for reading this and for standing up for libraries and democracy, Carolyn McIntyre
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