Thursday, December 25, 2008

Give It Back, Mayor Nutter!

I wanted to share with you what I will be doing over the long holiday. I am submitting the following letter via email to John N. Berry, III, Editor-at-Large of the Library Journal and Ann Kim, of the Library Journal. Why, you ask? Well I intend to ask Library Journal to rescind the 2005 Library Journal Politician of the Year award that was awarded to then Councilmen Michael Nutter. John Berry wrote a glowing article in support of Mayor Nutter’s activism ( to save the libraries in 2005. Mayor Nutter was then headlining rallies (imagine that?) against closing libraries. I will also ask that the Library Journal send letters to the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News in solidarity rescinding the award.

If anyone wants to join me by contacting the Library Journal, contact information will follow the letter I intend to send. Don't forget to attend the court hearings on Monday and Tuesday and the People's Court Indictment on Tuesday morning at 9:30. More details will be posted later.

Dear Mr. Berry and Miss Kim,

I write you as a resident of the City of Philadelphia. As you may know, our mayor, Michael A. Nutter is on the verge of betraying the public trust and betraying the award you bestowed on him, 2005 Politician of the Year, by proposing a budget cut that will lead to the closing of 11 branch libraries in the City of Philadelphia as of December 31, 2008. Many citizens have come out to protest this decision but our mayor will not budge nor will he give citizens the opportunity to identify alternatives to help save our libraries.

Mayor Nutter received your award because he vehemently attacked our then mayor, John Street. Mayor Nutter is now steadfast in his resolve to close these 11 branches, several of which are Carnegie endowed branches. The mayor seems to think it is acceptable to ask citizens to walk up to 2 miles to the nearest library, regardless of safety or environmental issues that may arise. In a city where less than 50% of public schools have libraries, the mayor deems it acceptable to decrease even further access to free, public libraries, all under the ruse of the “economic crisis.”

I write to you to ask that you join our protest and in solidarity submit a letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Daily News rescinding the award that you bestowed on Mayor Nutter. For the reasons I stated above, he does not deserve the distinguished honor of your award. It disturbs me to read Mayor Nutter’s statements in your article, “Politicians of the Year 2005: Frank DiCicco & Michael Nutter—The Rescuers”, from just three short years ago. It is so contradictory to his current obstinate stance, unwillingness to allow the citizens to seek alternatives, lack of transparency with which the decisions have been made and shifting rationales offered for depriving our neighborhoods of libraries.

I hope you will consider bringing your influence to bear on this issue and to help us save our libraries. With the subpar illiteracy and drop-out rates and the digital divide that plagues the City of Philadelphia, our communities can no more afford to lose their libraries than they can afford to lose any other critical city service.

Thank you for your consideration,
Amirah Naim

Contact information below:

Ann Kim via e-mail at or by post to:
Library Journal
360 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10010
or by FAX at 646-746-6734.

John N. Berry III
Tel: 646-746-6822

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