|During his campaign for mayor, de Blasio on NYC libraries: "once again we see, lurking right behind the curtain, real estate developers who are very anxious to get their hands on these valuable properties." He'd joined with Citizens Defending Libraries of which I am a co-founder.|
. . Tuesday at 3:00 PM he intends to make political waves in Washington D.C. with a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol to announce his “Progressive Contract With America.” But he’s faced with some really bad optics. After all the fanfare and folderol that goes to pump up attention for his plan people may instead, very shortly, be talking about de Blasio’s “Plan to Progressively Contract America.”
Why? Because right now in his own city de Blasio is deliberately choosing to underfund and sell off New York City Libraries. . . even against the advice of the New York Times editorial board.
What makes it even worse and what has it colliding directly with de Blasio’s desire to get widespread attention on in the national media as he interjects himself conspicuously into the 2016 presidential campaign debate is the fact that a key library he is setting up to sell off to a developer of luxury condominiums is none other than the Tillary Clinton Library, the second most important library in de Blasio’s home borough of Brooklyn. . and it’s right next to Hillary Clinton’s new national campaign office!
|Hillary Clinton's new national campaign headquarters, at the juncture of Tillary and Clinton, is beside and actually joined legally with the library there. For more read: Thursday, May 7, 2015, Hillary Clinton's New National Campaign Office Next to the Tillary Clinton Brooklyn Heights Library: Why Everyone's Talking About Income Inequality From An Economy That Supports the 1%.|
Pay more attention to income and wealth inequality while selling off libraries to convert them into luxury condominiums? That’s a stretch!
Mayor de Blasio official has a reason he is not properly funding libraries, a reason that, as the New York Times puts it, under de Blasio's tenure New York’s library expenditures lag:
embarrassingly behind Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Antonio and San Diego. And the city's suburbs. And Albany.Mayor de Blasio’s reason for not funding the city libraries is pessimism.
Although New York City is flush with cash this budget year with plenty of money to spare, and even though libraries cost the most infinitesimal fraction of the city’s budget and are very, very heavily used, an incredible bargain given their benefit, Mr. de Blasio has decided to leave in place drastic cuts his predecessor Mayor Michael Bloomberg made. The reason that he gives is that we have to underfund and sell libraries, shedding the public’s wealth and investment in them, to save for a rainy day.
Doesn’t Mr. de Blasio realize that when libraries are so badly underfunded they have to be sold it is a rainy day? Of course he does.
Usually pessimism, even when it's sensible, justified pessimism, is political poison. In this case, there aren’t any good reasons for Mr. de Blasio’s bizarre thoughts about fearing the future. The amount that can be set aside by starving and selling libraries won’t add up to much at all on a rainy day while the public benefit of libraries will mean a lot if those rainy days ever come.
The reason de Blasio would be so suicidal? The method to de Blasio’s madness is that New York has a strong real estate industry that pretty much runs the city as well as the state’s capitol, Albany. . . And this ties in with who Hillary Clinton’s new landlord is at her national campaign office next to the Tillary Clinton Library: It’s Forest City Ratner, a de Blasio ally and backer, a specialist in government subsidy collection that is likely to benefit mightily if de Blasio ever lands the featured role in implementing a nationwide urban policy that some people are talking about.. . .
. . . It’s the real estate industry in New York, and nobody else, that wants New York’s libraries recycled into luxury towers.
Mr. de Blasio said it best during his “Tale of Two Cities” campaign for mayor talking about what were then Bloomberg’s proposed library sales and the “public land and public facilities and public land under threat”:
and once again we see, lurking right behind the curtain, real estate developers who are very anxious to get their hands on these valuable properties.So tomorrow, as Mr. de Blasio stands up in Washington to speak about “income inequality” as the “crisis of our times,” the need for more fairness and to an address an economy that’s skewed to support “the 1%,” the question will be: Why is he underfunding and selling libraries?
Libraries are Democracy. They are the great equalizer providing opportunity in the most essential way.
Provide “a universal pre-kindergarten program”? That’s one of de Blasio’s new program `planks.’ But then take away the libraries those universal pre-k children might go on to use as the next step in their advancement? Take the libraries away from their older brothers and sisters and everyone else in the community?
As we said at the outset, Mr. de Blasio does indeed have a huge problem.
An important PS: There’s another reason de Balsio’s library sales are likely to get a lot of focus just as he’s promoting his “Progressive Contract”: There’s a new book by Scott Sherman coming out about the push to sell New York’s libraries, “Patience and Fortitude- Power, Real Estate, and the Fight to Save a Public Library.”