Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Multiplicity of Scoops: An Astounding List of Things You’d Discover By Reading The Brooklyn Public Library's Minutes- All About Its System-wide Plans To Sell And Shrink Libraries!

Here’s a bulleted road map to the multiplicity of scary, documented scoops that you need to know are in Noticing New York’s new article: August 31, 2014, Mostly In Plain Sight (A Few Conscious Removals Notwithstanding) Minutes Of Brooklyn Public Library Tell Shocking Details Of Strategies To Sell Brooklyn's Public Libraries.

Each one is potentially a major story in and of itself, but collectively. . . .

Noticing New York has sourced, from the Brooklyn Public Library’s own board of trustee minutes, a history of how the BPL plans to sell and shrink Brooklyn’s libraries, secretly turning them into real estate “opportunities” that would “support economic development.”

Here’s what you can discover from the minutes of the Brooklyn Public Library that constitute BREAKING NEWS, because, before this, the public just didn’t know.
    •    How influential and strategically placed were a married couple, David Offensend and his wife Janet Offensend, with the New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library respectively, so as connect and interrelate in terms of timing, approach and purpose, the sale and shrinkage of NYPL libraries in Manhattan with the sale and shrinkage of libraries in Brooklyn?
    •    Profound Secrecy!: What were the BPL’s instructions about keeping secret the names of libraries affected by its real estate plans? What did it instruct should be kept in "strict confidence" in this regard and what information was kept from the public and those funding libraries?
    •    A problem for incoming Mayor Bill de Blasio?: What is known about plans to lock his administration into the BPL’s secret library sell-offs?  During his campaign to be elected, candidate de Blasio called for a halt to the sale and shrinkage of New York City libraries, including those the BPL was targeting in Brooklyn.
    •    How small has the BPL considered making libraries?  To what postage stamp-size could libraries be shrunk and what did the BPL have in mind in this regard? . .  And what name did it give to what it considered to be the model it would promote?- In what (lucky?) neighborhood was the first such model library intended to appear?
    •    How many critical mentions (and in how many different ways) do First Deputy Mayor Patti Harris and Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Daniel Doctoroff, Bloomberg’s principal henchmen when it comes to real estate and development deals, come up in this saga of targeting libraries as real estate “opportunities”
    •    A real estate strategy plan was formulated that prioritized at the top of its list for sale two libraries both immediately adjacent to Forest City Ratner property- What former Forest City Ratner Vice President did the BPL hire to formulate that strategy?   What is to be known about how and why the firm was chosen?
    •    Air conditioning breakdowns?: In the summer of 2012 the air conditioning in the Brooklyn Heights Library `broke down` along with other air conditioning systems of libraries across the BPL system- This was just before library sales were to be announced.  Who was hired to handle this `emergency' and on what terms, exactly how long before it happened?
    •    Brazenness?  In 2012 Sam Roberts of the New York Times praised the library heads for their instinctive and open sharing of information as BPL president Linda Johnson was, in fact, withholding information about the library sales.  How did Ms. Johnson react to Mr. Robert’s praise?
    •    What’s being proposed with respect to the issuance of tax-exempt bonds for the libraries?  Why are powers being given to the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York in this regard and what did now City Club President Michael Gruen say in 1995 about the building of tall towers that could be relevant to the subject of libraries today?
    •    Eminent Domain is a powerful tool that enables private owner’s property to be seized against a property owner’s will. It's a tool that private developers love to have put in their hands by public officials- Find out about eminent domain being a part of the BPL’s strategic real estate plan and what libraries that might affect.
    •    What is the mysterious “Revson Plan” that identifies libraries to be turned into development projects and could possibly prevent your community’s library from being renovated?  Why does this plan exist if there is a separate strategic real estate plan to identify projects for sale?
    •    What were the first Brooklyn Libraries to be viewed as real estate deals, and how far back in the last decade was that?
    •    For which library that the BPL included in its strategic real estate plan did City Councilman Domenic Recchia find funds?
    •    What consultant(s) did the BPL get to tell it in a `needs' study that the BPL should be engaged in “support for economic development”?
    •    How many consultants does it take to say that pursuing real estate deals changing libraries is a bright idea? . . .  And how after-the-fact will their justifications be provided?
    •    What consultant got the better part of $1 million for its work to justify selling off libraries?
    •    What consultant assessing the condition of real estate in the library got what instruction about continuing to work to make their report a more convincing argument for selling libraries?
    •    What telling relevance does Mayor Bloomberg’s promotion of sugary drinks (that’s right, promotion) have to do with this history respecting the sale of libraries?
    •    What are the BPL’s likely troublesome goals with respect to entering into private partnerships and with what big, well-known developer did the BPL enter an odd-sounding partnership as one of its first?
    •    When Brooklyn libraries were in jeopardy from system-wide sale plans what did Borough President Marty Markowitz tell the public that would persuade them quite the opposite, and why should he have known better?
    •    What unknown knock-down drag-out fight did the Queens Library have with Mayor Bloomberg just as Bloomberg was leaving office about whether the powerful exiting mayor would be able to appoint, and leave behind him, a top aide on the Queens board?
    •    There has been a massive story covered by the media at great length concerning charges that the Queens Library is `mismanaged.' What could you read here that may convince you that when you thought you knew enough to understand this heavily-reported story, you actually didn’t?
    •    What is and isn’t in the minutes about how the BPL is getting rid of books?
    •    What is and isn’t in the minutes about how the Brooklyn Heights Library that the BPL has prioritized to be sold?
    •    How little scrutiny did the BPL board give to selling off of libraries and how little objection did its trustees raise?
    •    Before the plans to sell Brooklyn libraries proceeded, what legislation was passed in Albany to restructure the BPL board, giving Mayor Bloomberg much greater mayoral control (like with NYC schools)?
    •    What thought might have been given to the question of whether ethics laws and considerations would be violated by BPL board trustees selling libraries to pursue real estate development objectives?
    •    How much do the New York State sunshine laws, like the Open Meetings Law, allow us to discover about the way power works when real estate deals like the selling off of libraries are being worked on in secret?
    •    What does the sale of libraries have to do with the stories involving the sale of a number of other public assets up for dismantling: Long Island College Hospital, Brooklyn Bridge Park, South Street Seaport, NYCHA's public housing, New York City schools, NYU's expansion through Greenwich Village?
Yes, it’s a multiplicity of multiplicity of scary, documented scoops that you need to know are in Noticing New York’s new article, each an arresting story on its own and certainly deserving of even further investigation and follow-up. .

 . . Collectively they interrelate to tell a stark story about how our public officials have strayed far and dismally from the standards the public is entitle to expect.

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