Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Saturday library closings in the billionaire's city

Morning fume: the Queens public library is closing 14 branches on Saturdays starting next month. I'm relieved that mine isn't one of them, but extremely pissed that any are shuttering on the one day a week many people, kids and adults alike, could possibly get to the library. These branches are all heavily used. And since Queens is the primary entry portal for immigrants the Saturday closings amount to yet one more anti-immigrant measure--one more way to bar from public services these highly exploited workers who pay taxes and get pretty much nothing for it. The weekday hours are absurdly restrictive--my branch, for example, is open from 1:00 to 6:00 several weekdays--so Saturday closing amounts to no public library service period for most people. Why the cutbacks? Don't read the Times article for the real reasons. The causes are the same as those for all the other cuts: the Pentagon and war spending, which in a million ways affect state and local budgets as much as national, the bank bailouts, and, in NYC in particular, ongoing but never reported outrageous additional local giveaways to finance capital in the form of tax breaks. Isn't it curious that nobody ever challenges the billionaire mayor, who bought his way to a third term by spending $102 million of his own money on his campaign, to fork over some cash to the city? Why doesn't he hand over some of his loose millions to prevent the latest public-transit cuts about to take effect, or keep the libraries open, or, most important of all, provide some textbooks, some desks and chairs, some classrooms and some teacher pay to the public schools?