Lawsuit against closing libraries - Philadelphia News

December 18, 2008 3:15:55 PM PST
People rallying against the closure of 11 Philadelphia libraries are taking a new approach to keep the buildings open. They're going to file a new lawsuit. 4,000 people use the Logan Library each month. 60-percent are school age children.

For many of them, it is essentially their school library and offers their only free access to the Internet. However, it's one of the 11 libraries slated to close on January 1 as part of the mayor's budget cuts.

With no reliable computer at home, 9th grader Tiara Fuller relies on the Logan branch as a safe place to get books and do research.

"I asked Mayor Nutter to please think about my situation; I am about the same age as your daughter. Imagine if she were being threatened with the same loss I am facing. I know that you would do anything to protect her and her future," Fuller said.

Tiara is one plaintiff in a class action lawsuit a local lawyer intended to file challenging Mayor Michel Nutter's planned library closings.

"The option chosen, that being the permanent closure and abandoning of functioning city facilities, is not within the mayor's lawful prerogatives," Irv Ackelsberg, the plaintiffs' attorney, said.

Lawsuit proponents contend a city ordinance makes it illegal for the mayor to close publicly owned buildings like libraries, without city council approval.

The city solicitor maintains that ordinance is invalid because of the city charter.

"The charter gives the mayor the power to make that determination. The charter does not give city council the power to decide how to allocate funds. It merely gives power or the authorization to approve the budget and the mayor decides how to spend it," Shelly Smith, the Philadelphia City Solicitor, said.

The mayor's last town hall meeting on his budget cuts is tonight at Martin Luther King high school. If his plans to close the libraries don't change, the lawsuit will be filed on Tuesday.

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