Gregory Library Watch

Preserving working class Black history

This is what Ethnic Cleansing looks like

The City of Houston spent over $410,000 taking some houses right next to the African American Library at Gregory. Of course the houses are from the 1930s and made up some of the 550 contributing structures when the neighborhood was listed on the National Register of Historic places back in 1985. (see: Nat’l Register listing) Using eminent domain, the city pushed out two African American families and one Latino family. See the document showing  that right here:

The City could be earning over $1,400 a month in rents from these properties, but instead of fixing up the houses, they’ve left them deteriorate, making them an eyesore:

In fact Dr. Rhea Lawson:

the director of the Houston Public Library who signed the document to take the houses, is responsible for destroying more than one African American family’s life. Here’s the press conference from when the last family got kicked out in December 2009 (note the Gregory Library in the background):

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October 25, 2010 Posted by | ethnic cleansing, taxpayer waste | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Library claims 50 visits a week! Cost to taxpayer: over $168 / visitor

The City of Houston’s Fourth Ward website claims that the Gregory Library, which was renovated for over $11 million dollars of taxpayer funds, is getting 50 or more visits per week! Please see Houston Chronicle: $11 million for renovation article for that cost citation.

By taking the Gregory Library’s current salaries (see document: Gregory Library budget 2010) of $437,405 and dividing it by 52 weeks per year, we see that it costs the taxpayers $8,411.00 per week just for library salaries. Then when we divide that $8,400 plus dollars per week by 50 visitors, we come out to a cost of $168+ per visitor.

That $168 per visitor figure is very conservative because that overhead does not include things like insurance on the building, security guards, and utilities. Once we obtain the data on those costs we will get the actual taxpayer cost of each library visitor.

Can you spell tax dollar boondoggle?

Artist sketch of Gregory Library


October 1, 2010 Posted by | taxpayer waste | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mayor Parker responds to our letter

Here’s Mayor Parker’s email to us which we just received Monday morning;

from    COH – Mayor <mayor@cityofhouston.net>
to    Gregory Library Watch <gregorylibrarywatch@gmail.com>
date    Mon, Mar 1, 2010 at 9:18 AM
subject    RE: Community denied access to African American Library @ Gregory School

Dear Mr. O’Brien,

Thank you for your letter of February 4, 2010, concerning the African
American Library at the Gregory School.  I appreciate your desire to assist
in making the African American Library at the Gregory School the success we
all envision.

You have suggested various uses for the facility, including after school
programming and computer labs for the use of the community.  The Gregory
School is designed as a research library and not a neighborhood or community
library.  We do not have the resources to provide the type of programming
that you have suggested at this location.  However, the Library Department’s
Mobile Computer Lab has been located at the Gregory School site for two days
per week for several weeks for use by the community.  So far, it has been
lightly used.  You may wish to alert your neighbors to the availability of
this resource.  If you have ideas for publicizing the Mobile Lab, please let
us know.  We evaluate the best locations for the Mobile Computer Labs on an
ongoing basis. We would also like to point out that the Central Library
located at 500 McKinney, less than 2 miles from Gregory, provides most of
the services that you are requesting.

While we have staff members who are engaged in grant writing for the City
and cannot use your assistance in that area, we are very much interested in
any help you wish to offer toward enhancing and maximizing donations of
materials for the collection at the Gregory School.  We are anxious for the
community to embrace the research mission of the library and assist in
building the collection.  If you are interested in volunteering in our
outreach efforts to encourage community members to donate historical
documents for the Gregory School collection, we certainly welcome your
assistance.   Please go to the Library Department’s website and click on
Volunteer Opportunities, or call HPL Volunteer Services at (832) 393-1481,
so that we can get you started.

Thank you again for your interest in the Houston Public Library’s African
American Library at the Gregory School.

Sincerely,

Mayor Annise D. Parker

You can read our letter right here letter-to-mayor-2-4-10-1

March 3, 2010 Posted by | Mayor Parker | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Library administrators involved in cover up

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

February 16, 2010, Freedmen’s Town – Houston Public Library Director Dr. Rhea Lawson and Roosevelt Weeks, Deputy Director of Library Administration are involved in a cover up of an investigation by the Houston Inspector General, (a division of the Houston Police Department) for discriminatory practices at the African American Library at Gregory School (“AALG”).

In January, 2010, a patron with a doctorate in African American history attempted to access some public documents at the African American Library only to be denied by librarian Nicolas Castellanos. The documents, like all materials at public libraries, are for patron’s use. After a complaint through the library system resulted in a coverup by Deputy Director of Public Services Meller Langford, the patron filed a complaint with the Inspector General. The Inspector General revealed today that they referred their investigation to Dr. Lawson’s office over a week ago. Lawson’s office claimed today that they “never received it,” and the Inspector General’s materials “got lost in the mail.”

At no time did Lawson’s office attempt to complete the Inspector General’s investigation into the discrimination by African American Library staffers. Nor did they attempt to actually discern if they even received the complaint, instead they went right to cover up mode. Now that the adminstrative complaint procedures have been revealed as a sham, legal options are being considered.

In the meantime, the AALG continues to waste over $400,000 per year in salaries for nine staffers to sit around and read the sports pages, play on facebook and otherwise waste taxpayer dollars because the library, designed as an archive, has less than 12 linear feet of archival material and offers nothing to the surrounding low income community or any City of Houston residents. The AALG has few if any customers. The 23,000 square foot building was rehabbed at taxpayer’s expense of over 10 million dollars and now sits as an example of wasteful city government practices.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Timothy J. O’Brien, Ph.D
for Gregory Library Watch
832.771.7263

https://gregorylibrarywatch.wordpress.com/

February 16, 2010 Posted by | media, press release | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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