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.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Citizens Defending Libraries Resource And Main Page

Defend our libraries, don't defund them. . . . .  fund 'em, don't plunder 'em 
Citizens Defending Libraries Rally at City Hall 4/18/2013 with Comptroller John C. Liu
Citizens Defending Libraries was founded in February of 2013 in response to then breaking headlines about how, across the city, our public libraries were proposed to be sold and shrunk, with libraries being intentionally underfunded, their books and librarians eliminated.   During its its as yet short existence Citizens Defending Libraries has had a number of significant successes fending off and preventing library sale and shrinkages and there has been some progress towards restoration of the funding of libraries to a proper pre-library-sales plan level of proper funding, but the libraries are still besieged by the threat of such plans.

This page (which will be periodically updated) provides resources in connection with the petition and campaign to oppose the defunding of New York City's libraries, the shrinkage of the system and the sale of library real estate in deals that prioritize benefit for developers.

Chart from Center From an Urban Future report showing sharp decline in funding (coinciding with plans to sell off/"leverage" libraries) against escalating use.  
The first petition (gathered over 17,000 signature, most of them online- available at signon.org with a background statement and can still be signed).   On June 16, Citizens Defending libraries issued a new updated petition that you can sign now:
Mayor de Blasio: Rescue Our Libraries from Developer Destruction
You can also paste the following url into your browser.


This José Marti quote which can be found in this plaque on 41st Street's Library Walk is included in the petition to save New York City's libraries

All libraries in the New York City system are currently under siege.  For more details about affected libraries click here:  What Libraries Are Affected By City Strategy Of Defunding, Shrinking, Selling Off Libraries?

Here are additional action steps you can take that go beyond promoting the petition in order to help this campaign succeed: Action Steps You Can Take Including Contacting Elected and Other Public Officials.

Note about Citizens Defending Libraries (and allied groups) on Facebook and Twitter:   This, or any other of the individual pages at this Citizens Defending Libraries web location can be "liked" on Facebook if you go to the bottom of this page.  In addition, there is a Citizens Defending Libraries Facebook page that can also be "liked" on Facebook at:  Facebook- Citizens Defending Libraries (which will help you get notice of articles and new information pertaining to the cause when there are updates).  You can also follow Citizens Defending @DefendLibraries on twitter.

Our Facebook and Twitter will keep you up to date with the latest news and articles as they come out and allow you to easily share Tweets and posts.

In addition, the Committee to Save the New York Public Library has a Facebook page, and can be followed on Twitter (@saveNYPL).  Library Lovers League also has a Facebook page, and can be followed on Twitter (@LibraryLoversNY).

 News ArticlesAvailable Reference Articles

 •    Wall Street Journal: Undertaking Its Destruction, by Ada Louise Huxtable, December 3, 2012.
“There is no more important landmark building in New York than the New York Public Library, known to New Yorkers simply as the 42nd Street Library, one of the world's greatest research institutions. Completed in 1911 . . . . it is an architectural masterpiece. Yet it is about to undertake its own destruction. The library is on a fast track to demolish the seven floors of stacks just below the magnificent, two-block-long Rose Reading Room for a $300 million restructuring referred to as the Central Library Plan.”
 •    New York Times: Critic’s Notebook- In Renderings for a Library Landmark, Stacks of Questions, by Michael Kimmelman, January 29, 2013.
“this potential Alamo of engineering, architecture and finance would be irresponsible. . . a not-uncommon phenomenon among cultural boards, a form of architectural Stockholm syndrome.”
•    Noticing New York: 
    •    New City-Wide Policy Makes Generation Of Real Estate Deals The Library System’s Primary Purpose, (January 31, 2013).
 “Do we want a shrinking library system for a growing, wealthier city? . .  
     . . .  It’s what we are going to get as the principal purpose of the library system becomes the generation of real estate opportunities for developers.  This new city-wide policy has, in a very harmful way, turned into a perverse incentive for the city to defund libraries and drive them into the ground.”
    •    City Strategy Of Withholding Basic City Services To Blackmail Public Into Accepting Bigger Development, (Friday, February 1, 2013)
    •    What Could We Expect Forest City Ratner Would Do With Two Library Sites On Sale For The Sake Of Creating Real Estate Deals? (Sunday, February 3, 2013)
Two of the sites identified for sale in the forefront of this march towards divestiture of assets with a concomitant shrinkage of the system are in Brooklyn.   . . .  Whether by coincidence or not, both of these sites . .  are immediately adjacent to property the government has previously put in the hands of Forest City Ratner pursuant to no-bid deals . . .
    •    Libraries That Are Now Supposedly “Dilapidated” Were Just Renovated: And Are Developers’ Real Estate Deals More Important Than Bryant Park? (Saturday, February 9, 2013)
    •    If Our Besieged Libraries Could Speak For Themselves: Maybe They Do! A Petition And Efforts To Save New York’s Libraries From Developer Deals, (Wednesday, February 20, 2013)
The greatest shame of such a plan is that it, even if it shakes loose a few real estate deals, maybe a few every year, it is a travesty to continually drives all libraries and the entire system into the ground financially.
•    Center For An Urban Future:  Report - Branches of Opportunity, by David Giles, January 2013
[Libraries] “have experienced a 40 percent spike in the number of people attending programs and a 59 percent increase in circulation over the past decade”
 •    New York City Independent Budget Office:  Funding Cuts Could Shelve Many Library Branches, by Kate Maher and Doug Turetsky, April 13, 2011 
“The funding fall-off is already taking a toll on the city’s three library systems, particularly the systems in Brooklyn and Queens.” . . .“more than three dozen branch libraries may be closed.”  [Bloomberg on a course to bring waning city funding for New York’s three library systems to its] “lowest level since the 1990s.”   [The city’s 59 community boards ranked library services their] “third highest budget concern” . . [and] “Brooklyn’s community boards ranked libraries their top priority.”
.•    The Albert Shanker Institute:  The High Cost Of Closing Public Libraries, by Matthew Di Carlo, April 18, 2011
In fiscal year 2008 (again, according to the U.S. Census Bureau), there were roughly 9,300 public libraries in the U.S., with a total cost of around 10.7 billion dollars. That figure represents roughly 0.4 percent – four tenths of one percent – of all state and local government expenditures. On a per capita basis, this is about 35 dollars per person.  [local-level analyses] “have found that for every dollar we spent on public libraries, the public realizes about 3-5 dollars in benefits.”
•    The Daily News:  Coming to Brooklyn Heights: the incredible shrinking library, patrons and residents charge -- Controversial plan to sell library building to private developer who will build apartment tower over it, by Lore Croghan, February 17, 2013.
. . . a controversial plan to sell the city-owned Brooklyn Heights Library building to a private developer who will erect an apartment tower with a new, 15,000 square foot branch - smaller than the book hall that’s there now.. . . many patrons use the business library like it’s part of their neighborhood branch — and are upset the space will be eliminated.
•     Library Journal: Donnell sale highlights need for transparency in decision-making, by Francine Fialkoff, Editor-in-Chief, February 1, 2008
. . . the building that housed Donnell has been sold to make way for a hotel and a much smaller public library. .  (w)ith the proposed library having less than half the space for public services as the old Donnell . . . questions remain about the location of some of the collections. . . More importantly, the breakup of the collections diminishes the role of Donnell as a central library . . .  The decisions . . .  [were] communicated to staff (and in the case of Donnell, to the public) largely after the big decisions have been made.

Should a public/private entity like NYPL. .  so blithely sidestep public and staff input?
[The] Libraries Subcommittee chair of the New York City Council . . . “. . didn't know about the Donnell sale ahead of time.”  “It's troubling . . . in terms of . .  the whole mission of the library.”

. . .  It's way past time for NYPL leaders to come out from behind their cloak of secrecy. .  get staff and public feedback before making any other sweeping changes.
•      Walkers In The City:  Patience and Fortitude, by Romy Ashby. February 22, 2013.
The meeting was crowded with mostly older people hearing the same kind of talk about their library and smelling a rat. “The 42nd Street library isn’t the only library in trouble,” a man said. “It’s the whole library system.” A lady in her seventies told of standing up to Robert Moses and winning. “We’re not gonna watch our libraries be demolished!” she said. “We want the library we have, nothing less! The minute you give in to their conditions you’re finished! You get bupkis!” I sat and listened, and some of what I heard was this:

The city is deliberately underfunding the libraries despite library use being way up. Perfectly good libraries are being labeled ‘Dilapidated’ to justify their destruction. Librarians have been warned to sound enthusiastic if asked about any such plans. The money from the sale of libraries will not go back into the library system, despite what library brass may say. . .
•        The Leonard Lopate Show: Controversy at the New York Public Library, Scott Sherman, a contributing writer for The Nation and Caleb Crain, a former Fellow at the NYPL and author of American Sympathy, talk about the proposed changes, staffing cuts and construction plans, March 12, 2012.

•       The Nation: Upheaval at the New York Public Library, by Scott Sherman, November 30, 2011.

•       The Nation: The Hidden History of New York City’s Central Library Plan: Why did one of the world’s greatest libraries adopt a $300 million transformation without any real public debate?, by Scott Sherman, August 28, 2013.
 For two years, the NYPL has refused to discuss the CLP in detail, and many questions remain unanswered. How and why did one of the world’s greatest libraries get into the real estate business? How did the CLP, which was formulated between 2005 and early 2007, advance into late 2011 without any significant public debate or discussion? Who first conceived the idea of demolishing book stacks that were constructed by Carrère and Hastings in the first decade of the twentieth century? What role did the Bloomberg administration play in the creation of the CLP? Finally, what was the role of Booz Allen Hamilton—the gargantuan consulting firm whose tentacles reach into the defense, energy, transportation and financial service sectors—which was hired by the NYPL in 2007 to formulate what became known inside the trustee meetings as “the strategy”?
•       The Wall Street Journal: Clueless at the Corcoran- What the museum's latest bad decision says about nonprofit governance, by Eric Gibson, February, 24, 2014.
. . .  the untold story of our time is the emerging crisis in nonprofit governance, where boards embark on policies that go against-and even imperil-the mission of the institution they are charged to oversee and protect.

. . . The New York Public Library wants to gut its magnificent Beaux Arts building on Fifth Avenue and change it from a research institution to, as Ada Louise Huxtable wrote in this newspaper, "a state-of-the-art, socially interactive, computer-centered" circulating library, with fewer books, a good number of them moved off-site.
•       The Brooklyn Eagle (Exclusive): Brooklyn Public Library in line for audit, says Comptroller Stringer, by Mary Frost, February, 28, 2014.
Groups opposing the controversial sales of Brooklyn and Manhattan library branches to developers have long been pushing for an audit of the BPL and NPL systems. . .

“Some of the things raised with respect to the Queens library system are interesting and worth investigating but the Queens expenditures ($140K for a conference deck) are penny ante compared to the library sales at the NPL and the BPL,” commented Michael D. D. White, a founding member of Citizens Defending Library, following a Brian Lehrer interview with Comptroller Stringer. “The Queens Library system has not been selling off libraries like the other two,” White added.
•       City Limits: New Scrutiny of City's Library Trustees- The trustees of the city's library systems oversee more than 200 branches and the spending of hundreds of millions of city dollars. How representative of the city are they?, by Suzanne Travers, June 18, 2014.
Over the last year, library trustees have seen more of the spotlight than usual because of moves that put boards at odds with public opinion. . .

* * *
As repositories of information available to anyone who walks through the door, libraries have always helped foster transparency, accountability and democracy. Their boards, however, struggle on all three counts.
 •      The Brian Lehrer Show: Giving Libraries Their Due, David Giles, research director at the Center for an Urban Future and the author of the report, "Branches of Opportunity", argues that New York City's public libraries deserve even more support in the digital age. (Click below to listen) January 15, 2013.
More people visited public libraries in New York than every major sports team and every major cultural institution combined.

Chart from the Independent Budget Office- Adjustments for inflation (per the Urban Future report) shows downturn in starkest relief.
Meville House article on Citizens Defending Libraries event used picture from July rally where Bill de Blasio joined CDL to call for a halt to these library sales.  Video of event on CDL's Youtube channel.
  •      Melville House: Citizens Defending Libraries calls the Central Library Plan “a real estate grab” and “contrary to the public interest”, by Claire Kelley, February 19, 2014.
Citizens Defending Libraries, which was co-founded by Michael D. D. White and Carolyn McIntyre, has been organizing protests and actions against the Central Library Plan. They have told us that they are continuing to solicit "petition signatures to ensure the de Blasio administration scraps all of the Bloomberg library sell-off plans.". .

. . . Citizens Defending Libraries is just now arriving at our first anniversary, just blowing out the single candle on our birthday cake.  We formed in response to breaking headlines at the very beginning of last year about how libraries were being sold off at the end of the Bloomberg administration in deals that would benefit real estate developers, not the public.
  •      New York Times: Denying New York Libraries the Fuel They Need, by Jim Dwyer, April 23, 2015.
The city's libraries - the fusty old buildings, and a few spiffier modern ones, . .  have more users than major professional sports, performing arts, museums, gardens and zoos - combined.

* * * *

Over the last decade, they have not gotten anywhere near the kind of capital funding enjoyed by sports teams.

From the 2006 fiscal year through 2014, the city budgeted at least $464 million to build new baseball stadiums for the Yankees and the Mets, and $156 million for the Barclays Center. That's $620 million for just those three sports arenas - a sum more than one-third greater than the $453 million that the city committed for capital improvements to the its 206 branch libraries and four research centers, which serve roughly seven times as many people a year as attend baseball games. (The budget figures were provided by the city's Independent Budget Office; the teams are getting an additional $680 million in subsidies spread over 40 years.)
For decades, the libraries have served a single function in the city budget process: hostages. Mayors say they have to cut library hours to make the financial books balance.. .
 Additional Links. For more in a running series of Noticing New York articles about the libraries click here: Libraries Series.  Also, here are pages with articles that reference respectively 1.)  The Central Library Plan affecting the Tilden Astor Central Reference Library at 42nd Street, the Mid-Manhattan, Library, SIBL and the Donnell, 2.) The Brooklyn Heights libraries, and The Pacific Branch library, and 3.) Libraries in general.  

Foreground: The lion Patience , of Patience and Fortitude fame, in front of 42nd Street Research Library, whose research stacks will be sacrificed.  Background:  Mid-Manhattan Library that will be sold in system shrinkage plans
Flyers and Handouts Images, Cartoons, Flyers, Handouts Posters 

For images and cartoons for posters, rallies and handouts CLICK HERE.  For flyers and handouts for canvassing and getting the word out about the petition CLICK HERE.


Citizens Defending Libraries is making videos available on the Citizens Defending Libraries YouTube Channel.  Selected videos from that channel can also be found here in the Video Page.

Related Petitions

(It is expected more will be added to this list with accompanying explanations)

**** Citizens Defending Libraries is right now is working with the Committee to Save the New York Public Library and Library Lovers League to make sure every signs and (electronically) sends this email to the mayor (CCs are going to other elected officials): Email the Mayor!  ****

There is another separate petition (currently over 1300 signatures) by the Committee to Save the New York Public Library that has been up for some time and specifically opposes the Central Library Plan in Manhattan:

    Anthony W. Marx: Reconsider the $350 million plan to remake NYC's landmark central library

The following petition to save Long Island College Hospital (LICH) is relevant to the save the libraries petition, particularly for the residents of Brooklyn Heights and Northwest Brooklyn, because of commonality of related issues that were explained at the annual Brooklyn Heights Association meeting and in the following article:  Wednesday, February 13, 2013, One-Stop Petition Shopping: Report On The Brooklyn Heights Association Annual Meeting, LICH and Libraries.
Governor Andrew Cuomo and NYS Health Department Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah : Keep University Hospital Brooklyn at Long Island College Hospital open, by  Assemblywoman Joan Millman

The morning crowd waiting for the Brooklyn Heights downtown library to open
The Petition Being Put Forth By Citizens Defending Libraries

The first petition (gathered over 17,000 signature, most of them online- available at signon.org with a background statement and can still be signed).   On June 16, Citizens Defending libraries issued a new updated petition that you can sign now:
Mayor de Blasio: Rescue Our Libraries from Developer Destruction
You can also paste the following url into your browser.


CONTACT: To contact Citizens Defending Libraries email Backpack362 (at) aol.com.

Woe To Ralph Nader and All the Rest of Us: Our Frames of Reference Shifting To The Right Undermine His Metaphors About Libraries As Dependable Bastions of Democracy

Ralph Nader’s book, “Breaking Through Power- It’s Easier Than You Think,” is so hot off the presses that, if you own a copy, you might be surprised its cover isn’t still warm.

It’s an important book to add to your reading list, but is the ground shifting under our feet so fast, are we moving so fast toward more privatization of public assets, that some of the book’s metaphors are already sadly out-of-date?

Consider how Mr. Nader seeks to get his point across instances of the following quotes (emphasis supplied) from his book.  The first two quotes below concern Mr. Nader’s arguments that since the public airwaves are a public trust and are supposed to serve the public which owns them, they should do exactly that, and without the relentless assault of advertising.
They do not demand of it what they do of their national parks, roads, and bridges, though the airwaves are theirs no less than Yosemite National Park or the Grand Canyon.  As we do not---- and would not-tolerate corporations taking over our libraries, so too should we not tolerate them controlling our airwaves.  [Page 57]

    * * * *  
That’s how deeply ingrained the private exploitation of our common property is these days, free of charge, by the One Percent who have succeeded in gaining near total control of national resources while operating in bald non-compliance with the mandate that the airwaves be used in the public interest.  If One Percenters could somehow make money from advertisers in the Library of Congress or in Yellowstone National Park, they would, because they have done exactly that with our great national treasures the airwaves. [Page 59]
The third quote concern’s Mr. Nader's observation that our schools ignore and don’t teach about the civic ‘heroes’“threaded throughout American History” who stand as “examples” to “teach how truth can speak and discipline power,” but instead teach the stories of more controversial figures like military heroes and business leaders whose positions are less easy (and less desirable?) for students to aspire to:
Few students can join these ranks, but they can all aspire to becoming heroic citizens since democracy, like a public library, does not have any price of admission for participation at the local, state, or national levels. [Page 123]
Sounds like Mr. Nader is offering our libraries and national parks as sacrosanct commons that we can naturally expect to be free from encroachment, usurpation and rampant depredations of private cooperate interests who would seek to make profits by advertising everywhere and charging admission even to public libraries. . . .
Tim Wu's book, “The Attention Merchants,”and his Sunday op-ed, "Mother Nature Is Brought to You By"

. . .  Well, just a few weeks ago Tim Wu (who has another new book out: The Attention Merchants was writing about that in an Op-ed in the New York Times: The burgeoning onslaught of advertising and the privatizing takeover of “spaces long thought inviolate” from the assault of commercial advertising, places such as our national parks, schools, churches, our homes and libraries.  It’s what is new book is about also.  See: Privatized National Parks as Realms For Advertising? Tim Wu, Author of "The Attention Merchants" Writes About This And The Similar Invasion of Schools and Libraries In NT Times Op-ed.

Read Mr. Wu’s new book, and his prior one, “The Master Switch,” if you want more background and overview with respect to Mr. Nader’s points about how the public owns our broadcasting airwaves and how what so many regard as the current abuses never needed to be the `model’ we adopted.

But the loss of our public spaces and commons like our libraries goes beyond just the introduction of advertising.  Libraries officials in New York now look to mangle libraries by contorting them in partnerships with the private sector that pull them astray.  New York City libraries are being converted into real estate deals where the public loses out as libraries, the bequeathed investments of prior generations, succumb to overriding priorities of real estate developers. . .

. . . And are our libraries still free?  Sometimes, like with the NYPL simply snuffing out the Science Library that is at its 34th Street and Madison central destination library location, the libraries are no longer available.  Sometimes, the journals and materials you need now will only be available if you can penetrate pay walls by being a professor or college student incurring huge debt to attend a university, something that Aaron Swartz was directing his attention to and something that many people would say, because of government reprisals, he died for. .

. . .And then there are the public “library” spaces, like the top floor of the Williamsburg Library that you will now have to pay the private Spaceworks company, or the public “library” space in Coney Island, converted to a television studio production space that you now may not be able to pay enough to access. 

But have no fear, you may still be able to access these public spaces, some of them, because of the original aspirations, grand, if you want to have a high class society wedding.  You can have the "library" spaces for this, but there are fees that will be paid for those that can afford them.  (Elected officials with whom library administration officials want to curry favor for such privatizing of library space may get to use those spaces for free.)

Let’s conclude (or begin to conclude) the above meditation with a bit of segue: in October, Ralph Nader was in Berkeley promoting his new book and he had something else important to say about our libraries.  He said that whether people where left or right on the political spectrum they didn’t want libraries to be zones of surveillance under the PATRIOT Act.  We have his quote (which we incorporated into a video) here (emphasis supplied):
If you start out with 1% or less surrounding a particular issue that reflects what Abraham Lincoln called the public sentiment, that is public opinion, you're almost unstoppable. And if you connect on the left/right issues. . . . . Civil liberties, the PATRIOT Act, left/right with a vengeance. They don't want the government to search your home and not have to tell you for 72 hours or get into your medical, financial records without probable cause, or your library records without probable cause.

   . . . You want to see a legislator or a lawmaker go pale and have the knees shake?: Walk into their office with conservatives and liberals and say "We are a left/right coalition." They don't know how to game you.. . They don't know how to game a union of both.
(See: Articles About Library Privacy and Surveillance In Libraries.)

Last thing, and this really will wrap it up. . .

. . . Those public airwaves that Ralph Nader was talking about?  We are headed to some upcoming sell-offs of the airwaves. The current holders of "public" licenses of the airwaves will be paid by the federal government to surrender their licenses to “clear out” some these UHF TV broadcasting channels (like channels 33 to 51).  Those airwaves will be converted to space for more mobile data.

The for-profit owners may do very well and may even reinvest in the new shape their businesses are taking by buying up parts of the spectrum for the very sort of mobile data transmission that is replacing the former sorts of broadcast TV and radio.  But what of the public TV station license holders?  Whenever they sell we are apt to see another proportionate shrinkage, a sell-off reducing what was previously available in terms of public broadcasting with no proportionate growth of some equivalent or substitution for public broadcasting and public serving information elsewhere. . .

. . . It is somewhat analogous to the real estate deals where libraries own properties where part of the inherent value of the property is what is possible in the future, that the library can enlarge and grow as an institution, but then the property is sold off, the library frequently suffering and shrinking in the process, while some private developer scalps any potential for future growth seizing it for the generation of his own private profit.

Here is part of what Craig Aaron, president of the group Free Press had to say about this lack of consideration of the public good when the airwaves are sold an interview with Counterspin: ‘We’ve Got to Start Talking About How Are We Going to Build an Alternative’- CounterSpin interview with Craig Aaron on funding local media, by Janine Jackson, December 7, 2016.
The Federal Communications Commission is in the midst of auctioning off a big chunk of the public airwaves. And they're asking broadcasters-or they're not really asking them, they're paying them-to go off the air or move their stations to another channel, in order to create more space for mobile data. So they're going to move the TV stations out and turn around and auction off those airwaves to mobile phone companies and others.

In the middle of all this are a number of public television stations, at least 54, considering it, by our count at Free Press. And we think these are public stations using the public airwaves with public interest obligations, and yet the public hasn't been brought into this conversation about what happens when these stations are auctioned off, and what happens to all the money. And we're talking potentially about a lot of money, billions and billions of dollars, that will go to the license owners of these stations.

So when we're talking about public stations, these are state and local governments, universities, other nonprofit institutions. And we were particularly interested in the state of New Jersey, which owns four public TV stations, valued by the FCC for as much as $2.3 billion. So even if only some of the stations are sold, and the price comes down in the auction, which it will do, we could still be talking about hundreds of millions of dollars created, going into the coffers of New Jersey.

Friday, January 13, 2017

NYPL Announces It’s Intention To Sell Inwood Library (Enlarged and renovated in 2001) For Redevelopment- Is This What Gets Called a “Robin Hood” Deal These Days?

Our Facebook post about Inwood Library sale and Manhattan Community Board 12
INWOOD LIBRARY FOR SALE?: IT WAS STANDING ROOM ONLY JANUARY 4th as the sale for redevelopment was announced.

The NYPL has now announced the Inwood Library in its sights for a disruptive sale for redevelopment.

Sale of the Inwood Library for redevelopment is being sprung on the community. The community members present at a January 4th Community Board committee meeting, just catching up with things, were pretty angry. The NYPL is aiming for quick low-on-the-radar pass of the plans by the community furnishing it with very constrained ability to comment- two Charrettes before the end of the month:
    Wednesday, January 25th (4:00-8:00pm), and

    Saturday, January 28th (10am-2:00pm)
which the NYPL will then reinterpret as blessing their plans (including, they indicated there may be a possible override to increase the zoning).

Interestingly, learning from the Sunset Park Library sale in Brooklyn, the NYPL and HPD are saying that they have already picked a partner to work with (board members include the Donnell-connected Starwood head, Goldman Sachs, the Related Companies), but, even so, that they will only officially award development to their development partner after a formal RFP.. .. ?

Sound good to you? . . . . Right!  (That’s sarcasm.)

The Inwood Library is a very nice, highly used, very functional, three story library that was expanded and renovated in 2001.* (January 4th the NYPL misleadingly stated that it hadn't been renovated for 30 years.) It is next to two large schools. These plans would take the library out of commission (Donnell, sold in 2007 took nine years and the NYPL still doesn’t expect to replace the teen center until 2020) and then make it unexpandable in the bottom of a privately-owned residential building.
(*  This information coming officially from the NYPL is inaccurate, according to a neighborhood resident communicating with us, who says that the last renovations of the Inwood library were even more recent than 2001.)

Interestingly, even though NYPL officials said that they were appearing before the community board members that night to make sure that the public knew about these rushed charrettes, there was only on small almost impossible to find announcement about the community board meeting in the library itself that did not state the purpose of the meeting and also did not tell people about the upcoming charrettes they are supposedly trying to publicize.
click to enlarge- Do you feel informed about the library sell off?  All the library patrons we spoke to about it were entirely surprised.
The only real coverage (and it was good coverage from our standpoint) was in DNAInfo:

    •    DNAInfo: Inwood Library to Be Sold to Developer for Affordable Housing, City Says,  By Carolina Pichardo, January 6, 2017 (Comments are possible)
Officials announced that the city is planning to sell the property to a developer who would build an apartment building, the height of which is not yet determined, in collaboration with the New York Public Library, HPD and anti-poverty nonprofit The Robin Hood Foundation.

* * * *

The surprise announcement angered many locals at the CB12 meeting who said they're frustrated that the city is moving forward with the plan so quickly, and that most pieces appear to already be in place before the public hearings.

"I'm wondering how constrained the whole concept of the workshop is going to be, whether you already have the idea that this is going to be affordable housing... you mentioned that you have a partner and I didn't hear anything about possible competitive bid or other possible partners," said Michael White, founder of Citizens Defend Libraries.

"Robin Hood sounds like a great name, and I'm sure you guys do a lot of good things, but I look at your board and I see Starwood, which was involved in the sell-off of the Donnell Library, I see Goldman [Sachs], which is involved in selling off libraries, and I see Related Companies, which get a lot of favors. I don't know that I would pick Robin Hood to slice-and-dice my library," White said. "If you're going to do just two sessions, it sounds like you already have an idea and you just want to do some rubber stamping."

The CEO of Starwood is a member of Robin Hood's board of directors, and the CEOs of Goldman Sachs and Related Companies are members of its advisory board, according to the nonprofit's website.

White, who has worked with communities in Sunset Park and Brooklyn Heights when they went through similar development projects with local libraries, said the project is basically "giving the library away to developers."

* * *

The current Inwood Library is one of the most heavily used locations in Manhattan and one of the few libraries open seven days a week, with enhanced services, programs and hours, officials said.

* * *

White accused the city of going "through the motions" to make it seem like they got input.

“Basically, they’re letting the public know ‘we’re selling the library and we want to know what you want after we sell it. It’s not ‘should we sell the library, or preserve plans to enlarge it in the future?” White said.

White said the city faced a lot of pushback from the community after it sold a Brooklyn Heights library to developer Hudson Companies for $52 million after critics accused Mayor Bill de Blasio of supporting the deal because of donations his campaign received from the development company.
We have a post up on Facebook and have Tweeted about the sale.  There is a Facebook discussion of the sale on another post by TAkeBackNYC.  BTW:  Interestingly, the "Robin Hood Foundation" gets mention in this week's New York Magazine cover story about the ascendancy to power or Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.

There is the sort of quick non-coverage, mostly a press release pass along, that we’d regularly expect of such transactions by Curbed and the Real Deal, although Curbed mentions and connects this deal to the community’s recent rejection (its “fierce opposition”) of the upzoning of a neighboring site (but bot the Curbed and Real Deal articles do  mention the possible upzoning this could bring to the library site-  comments on both articles are possible):

    •    Curbed: City officials push affordable housing redevelopment for Inwood library- After recent rejection from City Council for a nearby site, the city explores its options, by Ameena Walker Jan 5, 2017

    •    Real Deal: In wake of failed Inwood rezoning, city returns with new affordable housing pitchDe Blasio administration wants to bring "100% affordable" apartments to the site of a library, by Will Parker, January 05, 2017.
Click to enlarge
Something of real estate interest likely going on here that Curbed and the Real Deal didn't mention and make explicit is that, after an import of FAR (and the site already has a playground running track included in it that will help it hit a high FAR), there could be a mayoral override of the current zoning, that would be a camel's nose under the tent in a neighborhood where the city has already been maneuvering for more increased zoning.  Adjacent to the library there is a succession of one-story buildings (with some recent transactions where they traded hands).  It is easy to import the FAR from all of those sites to the library to get a tower, or the existing properties there may themselves get sacrificed to redevelopment.

The Inwood community can learn from what's happened and gone on before.  As with Brooklyn Heights, the former Donnell, Sunset Park, anytime you sell off the library land and put a replacement library in the bottom of a privately-owned residential building you can never enlarge or expand it as the community grows afterward. . because it's a problem that the building is privately owned, and because it's a problem with the building being residential. - - - Closing this library, next to two large schools for `redevelopment' is inherently disruptive. Donnell started shutting down at the end of 2007. It's inadequate replacement didn't open until this summer 2016. The NYPL hopes to open the replacement for what was the newly renovated Donnell teen center in 2020. - - - When you turn libraries into real estate deals the priorities become those of the real estate industry, not the library patrons. ERGO: This plan to let the public comment on a done deal where the priorities have already been skewed.

One useful reference is this statement of principles that dates back to the proposal that the Sunset Park Library  be sold for 'redevelopment' and similarly turned into a multi-use project:  Proposed Statement of Principles Concerning Any Possible Redevelopment of Library-- Sunset Park Branch - .

If it really makes sense to tear down recently enlarged, renovated and very functional libraries for redevelopment, then what actually makes sense is to build the replacement library in a free standing enlargeable building first and then move it.  That way you avoid disruption, down time and bait and switch deals.

Politics?:  Gale Brewer as Manhattan Borough President has very key say-so over this Manhattan library along with SIBL, another Manhattan library she is letting go down the drainOn the immediate front line is Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez.  From talking to Russell Murphy (rmurphy2[at]council.nuc.gov), his representative at the hearing, it sounds like Councilman Rodriguez is already warmed up and predisposed to favor sacrificing the library for development.  A word to those with less experience in these matters: The NYPL and library officials don't generally proceed with the unveiling of library sell-off unless Mayor de Blasio, the NYPL and the rest of the powers that be already believe they have bagged and tagged the pertinent elected officials, particularly the local city councilman, and have them on board.  (For instance, the deal could even go back to when the last upzoning was slain by the community's opposition.)

One reason the Community Board 12 meeting was crowded was because local residents had sent an email to members of the Facebook Inwood Community Group (including):
Will we be losing our well loved and well used library? Because our community doesn't show up represent push back special interest. If they are willing to tear down our library, where will it end?

Will we let the city build questionable "affordable housing" on the Inwood Library site? I say NO not on my watch..... . . .

* * * **

"This is so unacceptable I can't put into the words . . .

. . .   it is urgent that as many Inwood residents who have time show up at this meeting in strong support of our library, and way of life...........

Who Is Jared Kushner (Trump’s Son-in-law) In Relation To The Sale of Libraries And The Sell-Off Of Public Assets?

Jared Kushner is getting a lot of attention these days (like the cover of New York Magazine) for his ascendancy to enormous power by virtue of being Trump’s son-in-law and key adviser.  See: Jared Kushner's Rise to Unimaginable Power - The Young Trump- Jared Kushner is more like his father-in-law than anyone imagines, by Andrew Rice, January 2017.

Even before he was this, he was an interesting person to keep track of and fairly recently New York Magazine devoted a fair amount ink to him about his and his father’s weird interconnections with Chris Christie’s bridgegate scandal.  See:  The Former Classmate Who Could Take Chris Christie Down- Most Likely to Destroy a Governor- Will David Wildstein, star witness in the Bridgegate trial, take down his old high-school classmate Chris Christie? By Andrew Rice, September 18, 2016.  New York Magazine, picking up from the Washington Post, reported how Kushner sent David Wildstein, going to prison as a mastermind of the Bridgegate plot, an email that said, “For what it's worth, I thought the move you pulled was kind of badass.” - - -

 - - - Kushner actually recruited and hired Bill Stepien for the Trump campaign.  Stepien was Christie’s former top (“ruthless”?) political adviser, one of the people whom Christie fired for being embroiled in the Bridgegate scandal.

Now we have all sorts of articles coming out of the woodwork like the Village Voice and Lo-Down Jared Kushner-is-an-excruciatingly-evil-landlord stories: Jared Kushner's East Village Tenants 'Horrified' Their Landlord Will Be Working in the White House, by Steven Wishnia, January 12, 2017 and Lower East Side Groups to de Blasio: Jared Kushner is No Friend of New York City Tenants (being Tweeted a lot).

It’s time to provide some Citizens Defending Libraries context. . . .

. . .   Who is Jared Kushner in relation to the sale of libraries and the sell-off of public assets?

Here from Noticing New York:
The rushed and secretive sale and shrinkage of the Donnell Library (with a subsequent "ratification" by the NYPL board) stank and looked like an obvious scam with only the merest pretense of an effective bid:  There were only two ostensible bidders on the secret sale and since both bidders were inevitably destined to be doing a coordinated real estate deal there was no real incentive for them not already to be acting in partnership.

The sale was kept confidential until the last possible minute.  It was finally announced publicly in November of 2007 only because, as a publicly traded company, the purchaser, Oriental Express Hotels Ltd., had to disclose the agreement within within four days of the execution of the transaction.

. . .  and one of the principal financial beneficiaries of the secret sale of Donnell was Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and top campaign advisor.

There is, however, apparently one criminal investigation: US Attorney Preet Bharara is understood to be investigating Mayor de Blasio's apparent pay-to-play hand-off the Brooklyn Heights Library.  Like the way that an effective and above-board bid process was apparently side-stepped with the Donnell Library to hand off the library real estate to a new owner for far less than its value, the Brooklyn Heights Library is being handed off for far less than its value to the public and is being given to a developer who was not the high bidder.
See: Noticing New York: Snowden, Booz and the Dismantling of Libraries As We Know Them: Why Was A Private Government Spy Agency Hired to Take Apart New York's Most Important Libraries And Turn Them Into Something Else?,  October 30, 2016.

Remarkably, even with the insatiable eagerness of virtually the entire media establishment to cover all things Trump (something that surely helped "The Donald" get elected), all the media outlets ignored our Citizens Defending Libraries press release, sent to thousands of press addresses, of the Trmp/Kushner tie to the library sale: PRESS RELEASE: Donald Trump Connected To Sell-Off of NYC Libraries? This Explains Exactly How, August 24, 2015.

In this instance, what the media ignores has consequences and results in the public failing to make relevant connections soon enough.

Donald Trump has gone on to appoint, as a top economic advisor and liaison:
library-destroying Stephen A. Schwarzman, head of Blackstone, the world’s largest real estate investment firm (among other things), the NYPL trustee who helped push the Donnell real estate deal out the door to Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and was even rumored to be personally involved in the deal through his own companies beforehand.
 See: Noticing New York: Donald Trump (Whose Son-In-Law Was In on Donnell Library Sale) Puts Library-Selling Stephen Schwarzman In Charge of Economic Policy, December 8, 2016.

This forebodes a sell-off of public assets in general, something that Citizens Defedning Libraries has been working to raise consciousness of and fight against: Our Public Assets Under Attack- A Calamity of the Commons Unfolding That We Must Act Collectively Against- How best To Express It?

A recent New York Times article started off reporting how privatizing prisons costs the public much more and delivers a far inferior product.  That's not to mention (as the article didn't) how privatizing prisons further incentivizing increased mass incarceration our country that already has the highest incarceration rate in the world housing around 22% or more of the world's prisoners, with less than 5% of the world’s population overall).  The article is probably a too cautiously conservative and somewhat too friendly to the idea of privatization in general, but it goes on to observe that the Trump administration wants to privatize lots of public assets and explain why that wouldn’t be good:
 privatization is likely to sweep through not only prisons. The president-elect wants to privatize health services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs. He wants to privatize public infrastructure - drawing private sector companies to fix, build and manage bridges and roads, water supplies and airports. He is selling privatization as a surefire winner that will deliver better services for less public money.

"There's a magical thinking among business executives that something about the profit motive makes everything run better," noted Raymond Fisman, a professor of economics at Boston University. "What is government going to be like when it is run by billionaire C.E.O.s that see the private sector as a solution to all the world's problems?"

A serious body of economics, not to mention reams of evidence from decades of privatizations around the world, suggests this belief is false. 
See: Prisons Run by C.E.O.s? Privatization Under Trump Could Carry a Heavy Price, by Eduardo Porter, January 10, 2017

The article tells us about how Trump expressed hopes to privatize prisons on the campaign trail:
"With prisons I do think we can do a lot of privatizations and private prisons," Mr. Trump said on the campaign trail last year. "It seems to work a lot better."
Privatized prisons is one of the investments that library-selling Trump-appointed Stephen Schwarzman has involved himself with.

A month ago the New York Times reported how stocks went up for private companies in the wake of Trump’s election: Trump's Win Gives Stocks in Private Prison Companies a Reprieve, By Jeff Sommer December 3, 2016.

So who is Jared Kushner?

Jared Kushner is the man,” said none other than Stephen Schwarzman introducing him in December at the Times Square headquarters of Morgan Stanley to a crowed assembly of NYC’s most powerful business leaders there to discuss the results of the presidential election.  . .

. . . That's from the Andrew Rice New York Magazine cover story although the article never mentions either Kushner's or Schwarzman's respective and integral involvements in the Donnell Library sale.  Similarly, although the Mr. Rice's New York Magazine article several times mentions Kuschner's purchase of 666 Fifth Avenue, his family real estate business's "flagship" building where Kuschner and his parents now have their offices, and although it goes into fair detail describing many aspects of that real estate purchase and its importance to Kushner, it never mentions* how integrally the 666 transaction and all its economic were tangled up with Kushner's simultaneous involvement with the sale of the adjacent Donnell.
(* It does however have a quick mention of Kushner in relation to the Robin Hood Foundation.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Testimony in connection with the NY City Council Hearing Re NYPL's 42nd Street Central Reference Library and Midtown Campus Plans Opposing Proposed Sale of SIBL, the Elimination of Books and the Surveillance of Library Patrons

Citizens Defending Libraries co-founder Michael D. D. White testifying
Here is testimony from Citizens Defending Libraries for submission at today's city council hearing respecting the plans for a renovated building to replace the Mid-Manhattan Library and Science, Industry and Business library.

The oral testimony of Citizens Defending Libraries is up on our Citizens Defending Libraries YouTube Channel- City Council Testimony 12/14/2016: Removal of Books From Libraries & Surveillance.
The entire hearing is viewable on the video posted by the City Council.  If you go to the very end of that video (at 1:26) you can watch Citizens Defending Libraries co-founder Michael D. D. White testifying and then afterward the exchanges he had with the City Councilman, first with Councilman Van Bramer about whether there should be concern related to the hiring of Booz Allen Hamilton and the possibility of the surveillance at the library, and then with Councilman Andy King about what information Citizens Defending Libraries would like to have forthcoming from the library administration and what Citizens Defending Libraries agreed and disagreed with about the plan, including the proposed elimination of SIBL and science books.

Also available on our YouTube Channel is the NYPL's CGI video presentation of the plan that incorporattes some of the hearing testimony about the project and its overall $300 million cost: NYPL's CGI Video Presentation of Mid-Manhattan Renovation Plan.  Wr have also included in a clip of Ralph Nader concerning the politics of surveillance and the libraries from "Project Censored," and a clip from "On The Media" concerning data, particular science data  about climate that could disappear and the need for robust library support.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer:  "As you know. .  I am very familiar with the PATRIOT Act. . .we are the place where everyone comes to feel safe.  The New York Public Library, like the Queens and Brooklyn Library, have hundreds of thousands, if not millions of undocumented folks. . . .  You’ve stated your position, your concern: I understand it; I disagree with it."
This post may be updated to provide additional information about the hearing.

* * * *

December 14, 2016

City Council Committee & Subcommittee:
      -Subcommittee on Libraries
      -Committee on Cultural Affairs,
           Libraries and International Intergroup Relations
City Hall
City Hall Park
New York, NY 10007

Re: Submission of supplemental testimony respecting Oversight - NYPL Schwarzman Building (i.e. 42nd Street Central Reference Library) and Midtown Campus Plans and against the proposed sale of the 34th Street Science, Industry and Business library, the elimination of books and the surveillance of library patrons.
Dear City Council Committee and Subcommittee:

Last night at the Mid-Manhattan Library the NYPL presented design and plans to the public with respect to its proposed replacement for the Mid-Manhattan Library and the 34th Street Science, Industry and Business Library (SIBL). The proposed replacement, if you track your history, also replaces most of what was the Donnell Library as well.  It affects the 42nd Street Central Reference Library which has been threatened by the NYPL with serious destruction that would have included destruction of the core research stacks designed to hold three million books.  Those stacks are now empty, drastically reducing that libraries capacity to hold books.

At the presentation the NYPL said they would answer the public’s questions, but the NYPL refused to answer critical basic questions about their plan.

NYPL Won’t Answer The Question: “How Many Books Is It Banishing?”

Asked how many books SIBL used to hold, not just the other day, but before concoction of the Central Library Plan when we know that there were well over one million books in SIBL, and, similarly, asked how many books the Mid-Manhattan Library used to hold the NYPL refused to answer.   Whether the NYPL didn’t answer because they don’t know or simply because the didn’t want to, either is unacceptable.

The NYPL did answer one related question: How many books will the library replacing Mid-Manhattan and SIBL hold.  The answer was with the books that will be brought from SIBL: “Just over 400,000,” which is far less than even half of the books that were at SIBL alone.

At the presentation, multiple members of the public followed up objecting to the NYPL’s refusal to answer the question about the missing books.  One such member of the public criticized as a “PR locution” the NYPL’s repeating over and over again the phrase that “there will be as many book in the library as there are in the libraries now,” without answering about all the books asked about that have disappeared.  Another member of the public described in detail how she had watched books and book shelves disappearing from Mid-Manhattan with what seemed to be a concurrent dumbing down of the books available.

Additionally, the NYPL blithely said at the presentation that it had abandoned collection of science books, expecting that people can resort to “the internet” to learn about science instead.  This is at a time when climate change is probably the greatest threat to the continued existence of this planet and climate change and all of its possible solutions are undoubtably a matter of science.

NYPL Won’t Answer The Question: “Why Did It Hire Booz Allen Hamilton, A Top Spy Firm Working For The U.S. Government, Before Launching These Book Banishing Plans?”

The NYPL was asked why, in connection with its library reorganization plans banishing books, the NYPL hired Booz Allen Hamilton, a top private surveillance firm with the U.S. government as its main client, shortly after the NYPL’s board (according to its minutes) was advised that it was expected that the federal government was going to “require” the NYPL “to reengineer their Internet service facilities to enhance law enforcement’s ability to monitor and intercept communications.”

Also to be considered is why, with the Mayor’s office inserting itself to require it, all three New York City library systems engaged Booz & Co. in connection with reorganization that would involve similar banishment of books from library premises.

Will The City Council Ask These Questions?

The City Council is hereby advised that these questions have been asked and the NYPL has refused to answer them.  It is not as if these questions haven‘t been asked of the NYPL in the past; they have and were unanswered then as well.

You as City Council can ask these absolutely essential questions and insist on answers.  If you do not, you become complicit in perpetuating obfuscation and mystery to which the public should not be subject.

What we are talking about are basic issues of free speech, democracy and, especially urgent today, robust protections for freedom of thought.

We refer you to the articles (available on the web), together with our resource web page “Articles About Library Privacy and Surveillance In Libraries”  listed in the attached addendum, the first of which is also printed out and attached.


Michael D. D. White
Citizens Defending Libraries
    •    Noticing New York: American Library Association Issues "Advocacy Alert" About "Massive Privacy Threat" of U.S. Government Remotely Hacking Library Computers and NYPL Issues "Privacy Policy"- Is "Privacy" At Libraries Actually Protected? December 6, 2016

    •    Noticing New York:  Snowden, Booz and the Dismantling of Libraries As We Know Them: Why Was A Private Government Spy Agency Hired to Take Apart New York's Most Important Libraries And Turn Them Into Something Else?  October 30, 2016       

    •    Noticing New York: Too Close For Comfort? Real Estate Addresses- Blackstone, Booz Allen Hamilton, The Libraries & Bryant Park, November 16, 2016

    •    Citizens Defending Libraries: Articles About Library Privacy and Surveillance In Libraries,  December 6, 2016       
    •    Noticing New York:  Libraries And Climate Change: The Dangerous Destruction of Information We May Need To Know To Survive, February 11, 2014
Councilman Andy King, Chair of the Council's Library Subcommittee
From left to right: NYPL COO Iris Weinshall (Senator Chuck Schumer's wife), NYPL President Tony Marx,  NYPL Chief Branch Library Officer Christoper Platt (once worked with Van Bramer at Queens Library.)
Councilman Daniel Garodnick asking NYPL officials questions actually got more information from them about the number of books planned than the public was able to get at the presentation the night before.
Michael D. D. White displaying New York Times headline "Hacking The Democrats" for Councilman Van Bramer during their discussion.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

More on Privatization of Libraries and Other Public Assets- Trump Appoints Stephen Schwarzman To Chair Economic Policy

Noticing New York article: Donald Trump (Whose Son-In-Law Was In on Donnell Library Sale) Puts Library-Selling Stephen Schwarzman In Charge of Economic Policy, December 8, 2016
This is perfect. . .  Or perfectly absurd and perfectly awful.

If are a library defender you probably already know the background: both president-elect Donald Trump and NYPL trustee and Blackstone head Stephen A. Schwarzman are tied in significantly with NYC library sales, particularly both being tied to the shrink-and-sink Donnell Library sell-off.  Now the connection between these spiritual comrades is ratcheting up a notch: Trump has appointed Schwarzman to chair a panel (that Schwarzman is picking) to advise him national economic policy.

For more about this, what it means in terms of the vulnerability of our public assets and national  infrastructure to extractions of value by the one-percent at the expense of the many see:      
•    Noticing New York: Donald Trump (Whose Son-In-Law Was In on Donnell Library Sale) Puts Library-Selling Stephen Schwarzman In Charge of Economic Policy, December 8, 2016

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Guess What? Emails Withheld By de Blasio Administration Show de Blasio Fundraiser Putting Library Developers On Wish List For Mayor- Evidence of Guilt?: “Can we take this off official thread please.”

 We Facebooked it and we Tweeted it. - And it is turning out to be fun.

We said. . . . .
DOES THIS SOUND FUN? Want to GUESS what can be found in the hundreds of pages of recently released emails between de Blasio and Berlin Rosen concerning: Deals about our libraries, David Kramer, Hudson Companies, Marvel Architects, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, the Fifth Avenue Committee, EDC, The Springer spouses, the BPL, Linda Johnson, the NYPL, the Queens Library, Steven Schwarzman, Marshall Rose, Booz Allen, Center For An Urban Future, Goldman, Rivington Nursing Home, Brad Lander, Steve Levin, Brooklyn Bridge Park, the City Planning Commission, holding back on audits?

It may take your sharp eye and some diligent searching, but whatever is available in this first batch of released emails is available here. Of course, it may be that they are tactically holding back and that there is nothing here in this initial release, but we won't know without searching through. . .

Let us know if you are looking and we'll share what we find.

Mayor's Office Releases Hundreds of Pages of Emails Between de Blasio and 'Agent of the City'
By Grace Rauh
Updated Thursday, November 24, 2016
Our Citizens Defending Library team members have been reviewing emails (you can pitch in- contact us) and finding things, like in an from a high-profile de Blasio fundraiser, Ross Offiinger to de Blasio’s chief of staff Emma Wolfe putting library developer names on a wish list.  Evidence that this was improper come when senior de Blasio advisor Peter Ragone emails back “Can we take this off official thread please.”
The de Blasio administration long resisted giving these emails in response to the freedom of information law, delivered what they has so far heavily blacked out with redactions, and still has not delivered more.  Expect that they will have to be forthcoming with many more. As it was, these emails were delivered using a classic age-old tactic: A massive document dump on Thanksgiving Eve, hoping that nobody would notice.
Fundraiser to de Blasio chief of staff: Developer wish list with the names of library developers David Kramer, Bruce Ratner, Jed Walentas- Click to enlarge
The emails show two developers on the wish list, Bruce Ratner and David Kramer, that are both connected to the shrink-and-sink Brooklyn Heights Library sale now under scrutiny and federal criminal investigation for a pay-to-play situation where the real estate, already being sold for a minuscule fraction of its value to the public, is being given to an inferior bidder, David Kramer, sending contributions de Blasio’s way.
“Can we take this off official thread please.” - Apparently a demand, not a question from senior de Blasio advisor Peter Ragone.

As things currently stand, David Kramer is expecting to be the principal developer of the site if the library is torn down.   Bruce Ratner, already owning part of the overall development parcel (transferred to him by the city in 1986) is a gatekeeper of the transaction involved in the transfer of development rights being used.

Footnote on Ratner: Breaking news on Ratner presents some losing-the-devil-we-know news- Ratner is being kicked off the board at his company and the Ratner family may be on the road to losing control.  See: Atlantic Yards Report: Forest City Realty Trust reverses itself, will drop family control; Bruce Ratner to leave board (Pacific Park loss a factor?), December 07, 2016.

There is another developer on the email wish list involved who is involved with library deals, Jed Walentas.  His tower across from BAM, BAM South, has been involved in shifting plans respecting the libraries.  Originally, he was being assisted in getting a variance for his building (which he originally bid to get form the city as a parking lot) based on the idea that it would include a library paid for by selling the Pacific Street Library across the street from Ratner’s Atlantic Yards, thus freeing up the land next to the Ratner’s mega-monopoly for redevelopment.  Last time other developers and real estate owners were competing near his turf in the area Ratner used the city government to kick them off their land.

We have more we expect to publish here.  Our team is has a lot to look at.