Monday, December 22, 2008

Sign The Petition: A Plea For Preservation


To: The Fulton County Board of Commissioners

To: The Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System, Director John Szabo
To: Fulton County Board of Commissioners, Chairman John Eaves
To: The City of Atlanta, Mayor Shirley Franklin

We call to you attention that any and all attempts to obscure, defund and otherwise, with willful intent, delegitimize the great, historical significance of the currently standing and fully functioning, 28 year-old Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library, are now being met with resistance; as witnessed in the formation of this petition, operating in tandem with other forms of collective civic action.

We call to your attention that this declaration makes no assumptions about what may become, as we are most concerned with what we feel should be.

We call to your attention that the architectural site that we seek to protect and preserve was designed by legendary architect Marcel Breuer, who counts among his more than 300 public and private commissions, with being credited for the design of The Whitney Museum in New York City, the HUD and HEW buildings in Washington D.C. and (in a partnership) the UNESCO building in Paris, France.

We call to your attention that it is our desire to work with, not against, the leadership and stewardship of this collective civic investment, in that we believe that "to remove a significant modernist monument -- important in and for its time and still satisfactorily fulfilling its original function to serve the community -- designed by a major architect of historical importance and world renown, would be a serious civic blunder in the cultural history of Atlanta"

So let it now be known that all who sign herein speak peacefully, in a unified spirit of service, cooperation and preservation with the hope that our voices shall be known, counted and heard. As we ask that the leadership attributed to deciding the fate of this site, regard this petition as a formal request that said leaders make a sincere and honest pledge toward instituting a policy of site renovation and preservation in respect to Marcel Breuer's enduring legacy as expressed in his final epic work, the iconic Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library.


(click here to sign)


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Flashback: Addressing The County Commissioners

July 2, 2007
Prepared Remarks:

To the Board of Commissioners, my esteemed colleagues and the citizens at large:

I'm here to talk about history, prudence, practically and reason; on an issue that should be an absolute no-brainer.

No offense to the honorable leadership of the Fulton County commission. But people, let's not make a mockery of ourselves.

We cannot afford this. We cannot afford this. Neither can we afford the financial cost, nor can we afford the cultural implications. Because, hastily cobbling together a last minute amendment to build the largest, most expensive public library the city has ever seen, might be a bit misguided.

We should move forward with the existing Library Master Plan, to first take care of the existing business at hand. Because, when it seems as if we can't even afford to wash the windows of the Central Branch we've already got? Does it make sense to be building a new one? Really, has anyone looked at those windows lately?

So the question should be, why are we neglecting our public institutions, and if we are already showing a pattern of this, what's to say we won't just continue this pattern of neglect once we build something new. More debt, more neglect.

And now a bit of history.

Marcel Breuer, the designer of the current central branch...was nothing short of a genius.

He was the Rosa Parks of industrial design. He was the Ray Charles of architectural engineering

Marcel Breuer was a pioneer of the modern aesthetic and he and his colleagues at the Bauhaus school are almost entirely responsible for laying down the architectural foundation of all the great creative minds since, including Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, I.M. Pei, Roberto Piano, David Adjaye, Phillip Johnson and Frank Lloyd Wright.

So, let's not commit cultural suicide. And let's not waste hard earned tax dollars.

Let's go back to the original Library Master Plan.

Let’s preserve The Central Branch

Max Eternity © 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Scrunity & Temptation: While Avarice Has Its Way


"A lollipop can be oh so nice
Especially when covered with sugar and spice
Though when secretly filled with fish eyes and lice
Joy and delight turns to horror and fright"

(Scrutiny and Temptation, a limerick by Max Eternity)


Marcel Breuer's iconic Atlanta-Fulton Central Branch Library is at risk. And with yesterday's passage of Fulton County's Library Bond Referendum, the public has unwittingly been sold a civic investment package based on hollow rhetoric and gross manipulation that was supplied by an outright campaign of misinformation, courtesy of County Commissioner Robb Pitts, Library Director John Szabo and Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer David Bennett.

We all want better libraries. No doubt about that. But in a quest to inspire, ensure, upgrade and improve, whether individual or collective, it behooves us all to make sure that what we wish to pursue passes the almighty "smell test".

Here's a comparison. Just think of all the people who have recently lost their homes. It is an unfolding tragedy, mostly because the homeowners signed on the dotted lined, entering into a legally binding arrangement, without fully understanding what they had agreed to. These individuals were boondoggled by finely dressed, smooth-talking loan officers who promised all sorts of pie in the sky, but in the end, what they ended up with was a bloated budget, in the form of an unsustainable mortgage loan which proved itself to be more trouble than it's worth. We've all heard about this in the recent months and years. Some readers may even have a personal testimony? But if one is to learn from such a painful lesson, the question to be asked is, did things have to happen this way?

I don't think so.

And again, we've all heard about the federal governments $700 billion dollar bailout, taxpayer money that is being used to rescue private investment banks who's interconnected debts threatened to swallow us all. But did this have to happen?

I don't think so.

There are countless other examples that could be put forth...truly. Yet, self-evident accountability comes through transparency and sober analysis. I wrote about this in a 4 paged letter (found here). And further still, the bottom line is this. Haste makes waste. Just think of Iraq. And just like Iraq (war) Fulton's Library Bond seemed to make sense, at first glance.

But does it really?

We trust our leaders instinctively, sometimes to our own peril. I say this because, based on staggering list of soundly based facts, I felt compelled to craft said letter which was addressed to our local leaders and the local press. That letter was presented as a collection of common sense questions which one would expect to be standard issue. Nonetheless, these questions were never answered. Not by the press, not by the politicians.

Again, the letter that I speak of can be found here.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news and from the start, it has not been pleasing to go against the grain in order to speak truth to power. But worst than that, in my heart of hearts, I earnestly feel that knowing what I know about what has transpired, it would have been absolutely unconscionable to stand by idle while avarice has its way.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Buono & Bergdol Discuss The Central Branch

On September 18th 2008 at DOCOMOMO’s International Architectural Conference (held in Rotterdam, Netherlands), preservation advocate Jon Buono spoke on the current threats facing Atlanta’s under-recognized historic modern architecture; of which includes The Central Branch Public Library. Also speaking at the multi-day event was Barry Bergdol, Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). In his lecture, Bergdol discussed the challenges and threats that often confront preservation efforts for 20th-century architecture; highlighting in his talk, the uncertain future of the The Central Branch Public Library, designed by legendary architect and designer, Marcel Breuer…(more)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Coming Soon: Isabelle Hyman @ Georgia Tech


Isabelle Hyman Lecture: Marcel Breuer and The Downtown Library

DATE: October 28, 2008
TIME: 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
LOCATION: Georgia Tech Architecture Library
FEES: none

At a public lecture co-sponsored by the Georgia Chapter of DOCOMOMO and Georgia Tech College of Architecture, Isabelle Hyman will explore the 28-year-old Central Library of the Atlanta-Fulton County Library System designed by Marcel Breuer.

Hyman is Professor Emerita of the Department of Art History at New York University. An accomplished historian of art and architecture, she has published a number of works on Marcel Breuer, a preeminent figure of the modern movement.

Hyman was educated at Vassar College and Columbia, and received her PhD in Art History at the Institute of Fine Arts at NYU. Most recently, she received the Alice Davis Hitchcock Award for "most distinguished work of scholarship in the history of architecture" by the Society of Architectural Historians.


DOCOMOMO stands for DOcumentation and COnservation of buildings, sites and neighborhoods of the MOdern MOvement.

DOCOMOMO promotes the study, interpretation and protection of the architecture, landscape and urban design of the Modern Movement. It promotes the exchange of knowledge about this important legacy which extends from the planned city and the iconic monument to the house next door. DOCOMOMO is an international organization. Founded in 1988 in The Netherlands, today it has national chapters or working parties in 54 countries and over 2000 individual members. It is an important presence in conservation and in architectural culture, worldwide, working in partnership with other international organizations, national governments, and regional and national associations. Click here for DOCOMOMO International.

Visit the Georgia Chapter of DOCOMOMO at

Teri Nagel, College of Architecture
Contact Teri Nagel


Friday, September 26, 2008

Marcel Breuer: Architect of The Central Branch

Born in 1902 in Pecs, Hungary, Marcel Breuer, is remembered as one of the most influential architects and designers of the 20th Century. Early in life he developed an interest in art, which led him to Weimar, Germany where he studied and taught at the famed Bauhaus school. Once there he participated first as a student from 1920 til his graduation in 1924. Thereafter, he became a faculty member or "Bauhaus Master" from 1924 to 1928; by which time the school had relocated from Weimar to Dessau.

From the outset, Breuer had a clear understanding of the "form follows function" principle. To this, he embraced the concept of unit construction, and in 1925, with his innovative use of raw materials, Breuer was credited with being the first to use tubular steel in furniture; a now ubiquitous, modernist technique applied around the world. As well, Breuer was also one of the pioneers of minimalism.

In Europe, from 1928 to 1937, Breuer enjoyed a flourishing architectural practice. However, because of the outbreak of The Second World War, he made a decision to relocate in America. It was during this time when Harvard University offered him an Associate Professorship at it's School of Design. Simultaneously, many of his other colleagues were migrating to the U.S. including Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier and Bauhaus (faculty) colleagues Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe. At Harvard Breuer was joined by Gropius, who taught at the school as well. Breuer continued to teach at Harvard University until 1946. And in 1970 he received the only Honorary Doctorate in Architecture ever awarded by that school.

Throughout his illustrious career, Marcel Breuer was commissioned for numerous, monumental civic structures, with some of the more notable being The UNESCO World Headquarters (Paris), The Whitney Museum of American Art (NYC), The University of Massachusetts Campus Center in Amherst, the headquarters of The Departments of HUD and HEW in Washington D.C., St. John's Abbey (Minnesota) and The Atlanta-Fulton Central Branch Public Library (Atlanta). In addition to his civic commissions, Breuer also received many residential commissions, including The Wolfson House, Breuer House and The Frank House, which he created in collaboration with Walter Gropius.

A major Exhibition of Breuer's work was shown at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art in November 1972, and at Paris' Louvre Museum in the summer of 1974. More recently, in 2002 The Smithsonian Institution created an exhibition entitled Marcel Breuer: A Centennial Celebration

Marcel Breuer 1902-1981

AFPL Central Branch - Special Collections
Archives @ The Smithsonian Institution

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Whitney NYC: A Letter From John Stanley

Sent: Mon 9/22/08 2:31 PM

Dear Mr. Eternity:

Thank you for your thoughtful e-mail, which the Director's Office forwarded to me. As I hope you can understand, it is difficult for The Whitney to take an institutional stand, one way or another, on a subject that is in another city with issues and players that we cannot begin to know or understand. Having said that, however, as one who works with a Breuer building, and has had the privilege of working with many world-class architects over the years, I would like to send my personal hope that all possible uses might be examined and exhausted before this building is torn down.

As a frequent visitor to Atlanta, I can appreciate the desire for those there to try to preserve its architectural heritage. The sort of 60's concrete brutalism is much unloved, as I can attest having lived in Boston for a long time, witnessing the attacks on its Kallman, McKinnel City Hall building. Long term gain can sometimes be lost with short term thinking. I suspect at some point in the future this style architecture will be embraced for what it is, a raw, beautiful art form.

Best of luck in your quest. Regards,


John S. Stanley

Deputy Director

Whitney Museum of American Art

945 Madison Avenue

New York, NY 10021

212.671.8354 office

212.535.6186 fax

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Pimping The Public: Literary Bliss Or A Shotgun Wedding?

Since all the world now knows that this country was led into a trillion dollar war through a hijacked foreign policy of fear, lies and deception, are we really that shocked to experience more of the same at a local level? Yes, does it really come as a surprise that we Metro Atlantans now find ourselves being pigeon marched into submission by a group of greedy myopic public officials, with Commissioner Rob Pitt's and Library Director John Szabo dragging us down the isle while holding a $275M library bond 'shotgun' to our heads?


And though of course, a new war will not come out of this, still, second only to pimping and prostitution, it's the oldest trick in the book...a shotgun wedding. It starts with a misappropriation of sperm (sexual recklessness) a compulsive, selfish deed that then leads to unwanted pregnancy and a forced wedding. But of course, in this case, it's not some individual's metaphorical seed or sperm bank, it's a real live bank (roll) of $275 million dollars. And it's not an imaginary wedding of some giddy knocked-up girl to some freckle-faced, hormonal young man, it's the current, brutal reality of the public being hog-tied to the special-interest-wet-dream of two grossly egocentric, public officials who have absolutely no problem with lying and deceiving us all the way to the chapel...or in this case, the poorhouse.

Sounds outrageous, but do I exaggerate?

Well, if you think this scenario sounds scandalous, over-the-top, vulgar and horrifically grotesque, you better think again, because that's exactly what it is. For this, the November 4th Library Bond Referendum, is nothing short of a crucible to the soul of greater Atlanta's literary and architectural future. Pitts and Szabo knew that. Which is why, Pitts and Szabo exploited that. And in the weeks that have passed since Fulton County's once perfect Library Master Plan got transformed into a $275M legal deception of a pet project nightmare that can only be described as a financial Frankenstein. I have come to discover that I am not alone in my conflicted feelings about whether or not to allow myself to be hijacked and forced to support the now radically amended version of the original Library Master Plan; a plan which was originally designed to equally distribute money throughout the county, that now instead uses 30% of said funding to go directly toward new construction of yet another downtown library.


Now spending so much money, $84M, toward the construction of a new Central Branch library would be a good thing if it were something needed and asked for. But here's the thing, it's not needed and it wasn't asked for. Because anyone who'd been downtown in the last decade knows that we already have two massive public libraries already standing in the downtown area, the Marcel Breuer designed Central Branch Library and the civil rights inspired Auburn Avenue Research Library. Thus for reasons other than political profiteering, we do NOT need another library built in that area. It makes absolutely no sense. But the public be damned, because Pitts and Szabo decided that this is what they wanted (for their own socio-political careers?) and that that's what they'd manipulate us to get. And sure enough, it's stuck in our craw like a taco going down sideways.

Though if that were not enough, guess what. That $84M that I just mentioned, it doesn't buy us a whole library. It just gets our foot in the door. As we'd need more than $150M additionally (including the cost of land) to actually complete such a massive project, not to mention the laundry list of lingering questions that would still swirl around this completely ridiculous idea.

So make no mistake, we are being pimped. Pie is not falling from the sky. Osama Bush-Bin Laden has neither been caught nor impeached. And we Atlantans will not be getting the library system we asked for. Because in this high-wire walk of financial philandering, the public is the prey. It's a win/lose situation no matter how you slice it. Pitts and Szabo made sure of that. And as far as I can tell, the only real way out of this conundrum is to reject the referendum and expose Pitts and Szabo as the hideous frauds that they are.

I'd prefer not to advocate doing this, but these men fit the perfect description of wolves in sheep's' clothing. They have the public trust in their hand, but they have their own self will in their hearts. They have hijacked the democratic process. They have subverted the will of the people, and in turn they have perverted the outcome of the vote. Hence, instead of a vetted process of literary bliss, we are now stuck with a $275M last-minute, shotgun wedding, which appears to stave off the wolves, but ultimately leaves us economically anemic and civically deprived.

It's like something straight out of Karl Rove's playbook, cynicism at it's worst. But to this proposition I say no.

Hell no.

And a final word of advice to Rob Pitts and John Szabo. Do what's asked of you and serve the public honestly or find new work. For whether federal or local, we the people are still in power.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Questions For The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Sent: Sunday, August 03, 2008 @ 9:08 PM

To: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ATTN: Angela Tuck, Public Editor/Ombudsman
CC: AJC Staff Writer, Alan Judd
CC: AJC Staff Writer, David Bennett

Dear Angela,

As a engaged citizen who's deeply concerned about Greater Atlanta's legacy of cultural diversity, artistic excellence, sustainable "greenliness" and long-term economic success, I now write to you in the hopes of having a few rather vexing questions answered. The subject on which these questions are based pertains to The AJC's media coverage of Fulton County's recently drafted bond referendum for it's Library Facility Master Plan; a risky plan which may have grave consequences for the entire public library system, as well as specifically horrific consequence for the future of it's flagship library, The Atlanta-Fulton Central Branch. That building being a monumental structure designed by a creative genius of epic proportions, the late Marcel Breuer.

Nonetheless, before I ask these questions, allow me to state for the record, that I consider The AJC to be a respectable organization, which employs many a fine journalist. And because I have in the past, found the paper to be worthy of merit, I trust and believe that the paper's management takes the view that critical self-analysis is an asset and not a liability. And again, before I pose these questions, I also ask that one be mindful of the fact that the future of 30+ libraries is at stake as well as $275,000,000.00 taxpayer dollars.

Here are the questions:

The original Library Master Plan went through a 2-year public vetting process, but the last-minute, radically- amended plan did not. Why is this not emphasized and clearly stated by the AJC?

Recorded in FCC public documents (transcripts of meetings & video) is a procession of opposition to the Robb Pitts (amended) version of the Library Master Plan, but in reading several news articles by AJC writer, David Bennett, it occurred to me and some of my colleagues that while there are seven members on the FCC Board, one seems get his voice heard in every published piece, that person being none other than Commissioner Rob Pitts. Why is this? Why, I ask, has one individual been allowed to molest public dialog and shape the entire public debate for his own personal will, especially when that same person's voice grossly misrepresents the will of the people who had already made their intent very clear through the heavily documented two-year vetting process?

The 2 year public vetting process for the original Library Master Plan included input for every public library in the system and was unanimously supported by all parties involved, with not one single individual asking that the current Central Branch be demolished, sold or otherwise disposed of. Why is this not clearly stated by the AJC?

FCC Chair John Eaves, as well as Commissioners Bill Edwards and Lynn Riley, are on the record stating that they had received hundreds and hundreds of phone calls and emails voicing support for keeping and renovating the current Central Branch, and they also said that not a single person (absolutely no one) ever called or wrote for anything otherwise. In other words, in the last two years, there was never any desire expressed in the public process by any citizen to build a new Central Branch, but instead there was overwhelming consent of a desire to keep the iconic structure that we already have. Why then is this point not emphasized and/or clearly stated by the AJC?

Led by Commissioner Rob Pitts and the library system's executive director John Szabo, with the auspices of a few additional "self-will-run-riot" commissioners, a PR campaign is in full force. It is a PR campaign, which mentions none of the information I now inquire about, though I will say that some of these omissions were very beautifully written about by Cynthia Rogers, in an op-ed AJC piece entitled Progress In Preservation. Still however, the assigned writer(s) who are supposed to be reporting on all sides have never really confronted Pitts et all on all these omissions. Why is this?

Furthermore, while heading Clearwater/Tampa's Public Library System, John Szabo is credited with getting a new central branch library built there. Now the same thing appears to be happening here. Is this a coincidence? Or was he hired with the intention to work stealthily towards doing away with our current central branch, in exchange for Pitt's vision of a "bigger better" newer one? And keep in mind, whether being coincidence or deliberate action, shouldn't the public know about this bit of potent information?

FCC Chair John Eaves, as well as Commissioner Lynn Riley, expressed much dissent against Pitt's et all, with (at a later date) Lynn Riley, in response to an email that I had sent to her thanking her for voting to honor the people's will by supporting only the original Library Master Plan, she wrote back in her reply saying "It was disappointing that a comprehensive library facility master plan could be hijacked for an un-substantiated purpose". By any measure, that statement packs a punch. So, with the question being that if I, a private citizen with no special access to public officials, was able to learn this directly from the source, why could the infinitely more powerful staff at The AJC not gather this very important quote…and so much more?

Moving on.

The Executive Director of American Institute of Architects Atlanta Chapter, Susan Ellis Proper, as well as the organization's president, Bruce McEvoy, are ardent supporters of the original Library Master Plan. I know this information as I have personally spoken with both of them. However they like I, do not support the Pitts/Szabo amended plan that has now become the stated bond referendum. Thus with both of these very knowledgeable architects and many of their architectural peers having expressed these same sentiments at FCC meeting(s) and through the AIA Atlanta website, why have neither they, nor young architect leader Newel Watkins, not been given, as respected cultural stewards of Greater Atlanta, a proper interview? Yes, why haven't any of these distinguished individuals been asked to weigh in on this issue via The AJC?

Too this, with an onslaught of daily news reports around the globe which speak of the collapsing state of the U.S. economy, with some economist essentially equating our current recession as fast approaching the very same dynamics and fallout of the 1929 Great Depression, why has Commissioner Rob Pitts and Library Director John Szabo been allowed to dramatically fatten the projected budget of the Library Master Plan by approximately almost 25% with virtually no public input, or rigorous scrutiny from your paper; a paper which itself is feeling the direct effect of the prior mentioned economic woes i.e. with the laying off of 200 of your own employees. Where is the objectivity and scrutiny that ought to be de rigueur, especially in such dire economic times?

And, another question…. with local and global concern for environmental preservation increasing daily, why hasn't The AJC thought to ask a LEED certified expert or some other knowledgeable individuals in the field of project sustainability and urban renewal, about the impact of the wholesale "junking" of a large civic structure? Wouldn't that have been an appropriate line of questioning for the commissioners, which may have shown a sign of sane, reflective, leadership on the behalf of the FCC Board?

And then there is this looming question, with Marcel Breuer having been such a phenomenal artist, architect and industrial engineer, and given the fact that Atlanta-Fulton has the very last public structure built by such a towering figure, why hasn't The AJC asked the same type of questions that one would expect to be asked if a structure of said significance had such historic value to African-Americans causes and the Civil Rights Movement. In other words, as an African-American myself, who is very proud of that fact and who prides himself of the legacy of equanimity and justice that our own Dr. King and Coretta Scott King left with us, why then has the AJC not inquired to the commissioners as to why that the same sensitivity of one subculture cultural value is not being given to another subculture. I make this point because as a fair-minded human being (that happens to be African-American) who can chew gum and walk at the same time, meaning that I understand the win/win of a multi-faceted system of just inclusion, I have a deep appreciation of civic equity where ever it may be. From this place of vision, it is a logical step that an awareness should exist, which facilitates that the Marcel Breuer building represents an easily seen parallel equation in the world of architecture and civic preservation to the civil rights world? Meaning that if one were to draw a direct comparison between the Civil Rights aesthetic and the Artistic aesthetic, Marcel Breuer would easily rank as an Andrew Young, Malcolm X, or Rosa Parks. So again, to rephrase, why wasn't The AJC able to parse the need for common sense wisdom, historical sensitivity and civic stewardship, when dealing with the legacy of ALL the great contributors to our society?

And what about the one off, site-specific monumental sculpture by famed African American sculpture Richard Hunt. It is a piece ironically titled "The Wisdom Bridge". What's to happen to that irreplaceable piece and doesn't such an epic work of art deserve to be thought of in advance? Why aren't we talking about this?

Jere Woods, mayor of one of Fulton's largest cities, The City of Roswell, spoke eloquently (with the endorsement of Sandy Springs Mayor, Eva Galambos) at the July 16th FCC meeting about why he stridently endorses the original Library Master plan and not the Pitts/Szabo amended one. Shouldn't some of his remarks have shown up in a subsequent AJC news article, given the fact that he represents such a huge populace in the metro area?

Through my own independent studies as a freelance artist and layman's intellectual, and through the engagement of a discourse with government officials, past and present library employees, a plethora of reputable architects, school teachers, urban "green" stewards and private citizens from all walks of life, more often than not, I have encountered a sheer befuddlement at the idea of ditching the ever fabulous current central branch, and that in effect doing so would essentially be tantamount to cultural genocide. Why then has this diversely held, public perception been utterly ignored in The AJC's ongoing reporting effort?

And about the money, with there being $275,000,000.00 at stake, shouldn't the "watchdog" element of The AJC's journalistic ethic, have automatically kick in…Isn't that appropriate, just as a natural response to the prospects of such a staggering amount of money being misappropriated; this being especially true when one considers that the county's largest city, Atlanta, is now (last time I checked) facing a class-action law suit for it's own misappropriations of public funds with the Percent for Art program?

And finally, what is The AJC's position when it comes to espousing a civic duty of holding public officials publicly accountable?

I look forward to your reply



Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Trusting Private Media With Public Policy


This past Monday, July 28th, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published a front page piece by writer Alan Judd. It was a piece concerning the Central Branch Library and the Library Master Plan. And thought the piece was well written with some facts included, I and others felt that there were just too many glaring omissions (missing facts) for this piece to be seen as entirely independent and objective. Consequentially, I opted to post a public reply here on this site (see below) and I also sent a copy of this reply to Alan Judd via Email.

Thereafter Mr. Judd responded in a timely manner. And in his response and subsequent correspondence(s) I learned that wrote as he wrote because he was essentially "filling in" for AJC writer David Bennett (a.k.a. D.L. Bennett) who is officially assigned to this story, but currently on a two week vacation.

Et Viola!

That's when it all started to make sense. Because, from the start, I had noticed that Alan Judd had not written about this subject before. No, it was writer David Bennett who was the one in the last weeks and months, that had repeatedly wrote about this issue. And in reading Mr. Bennett's news articles, I noted that he had, time and time again, given preference to Commissioner Rob Pitts and Library Director John Szabo, all the while omitting and/or distorting the overwhelming voice(s) of dissent against Mr. Szabo and Pitts' bullish plan to hijack the budget and turn it to their favor.

It was a voice of dissent, which included Commission Chair Dr. John Eaves along with Commissioner Lynn Riley, as well as the Mayor(s) of Roswell and Sandy Springs, just to name a few. Then there were other omissions like the unanimous public support of the two year vetting process, which created the original Library Master Plan; that process now being totally ignored, effectively subverting the will of the people. Another omission was the fact that prior to coming to Atlanta, John Szabo was known as a tourist attraction library builder, as he had successfully done this exact thing (built a big fancy new central branch) when he was the head of The Tampa (Clearwater) Public Library System. Then there is this issue of public officials forming stealthy pacts with private developers, this being seen in the Buckhead Library incident with commissioner Tom Lowe and "friend" developer Ben Carter. There is plenty, plenty more that's been omitted, but I'll stop there.

Bottom line is this. David Bennet never really mentioned any of this. And when I confronted him on this some weeks back he claimed that he was just writing updates. What? What does that mean? The guy has written three or more news articles about this library fiasco and he wants me to believe that he couldn't have done a better job at representing the voice of both sides of this issue? How crazy is that?

Anyway. When David Bennet went on vacation and Alan Judd was temporarily handed the reigns for the follow-up story, he was given a major hot potato issue, with scant half the facts. Mr. Judd had not been ordered to follow this issue from the start, because he was not the writer originally assigned to cover it. But, David Bennet was. Thus, I now sense that Mr. Judd honestly and truly did the best he could. But with being given just a couple of days to write the piece, and with all the prior documentation having come from David Bennett, what else could Mr. Judd do, but mostly fumble the ball? Though with that said, I must say that he still did a better job than Mr. Bennet.

It's a terrible set of circumstances for a writer to find themselves in. And though I offer no apologies for my public reply, I do feel a sincere sympathy for Alan Judd or any other writer who finds themselves faced with such a loaded deck. Yet when one adds to this incident the overall horror that so many corporate news outlets are being faced with today, namely their demise via forced downsizing (AJC just laid off 200 of it's staff) it's a wonder that any work is getting down at all.

Thus as I sit here agape at the media prospects, I can't help but can a profit driven, market controlled, corporate media system be consistently depended upon to provide thorough, accurate, independent analysis and prose, when their own financial floor is crumbling beneath their very feet?

Is this realistic? Is this possible? And in the meantime, who's watching our elected officials?


Monday, July 28, 2008

A Public Reply to Alan Judd of The AJC



To your recently penned AJC news article;

Beauty, truth and bonds: Is library a classy eyesore?

I say this:

Your piece is an opinion piece.

That is what you provide.

But with this piece being presented on the front page as "fact", I ask... where are the facts?

...all the facts?

Not the cherry picked facts, but all the know, the ones that will sink your case.

As a private citizen you are entitled to your opinion, just as you faux news brother David Bennett is. Yet this recent piece was not on the op-ed page, it's on the front page. And while there are plenty of good journalist at the AJC and elsewhere, there can be no denying that the public is ripe with complaints of men (and women) of your ilk; individuals who think we (the masses) are just a bunch of idle fools, eager to gobble up your swill.


All eyes are watching, and with so many news organizations collapsing before our very eyes, you might want to rethink your strategy of playing kissy face with the highest bidder.

I'm not saying that you are taking bribes (though I wouldn't be surprised). No, I'm suggesting that the highest bidder = the loudest, slickest, most well-connected voice.

The media has a responsibility to the public to tell the whole, unvarnished truth. Omitting vital facts = lying. And don't worry, I won't bother to point out all of your omissions, you know what they are.

So does Szabo. So does Pitts.

And if Pitts et Co. are fully at ease with subverting the truth. Let them do that. But that's not your job. You are (supposedly) an unbiased, independent journalist.

Because, what Pitts & Szabo are doing amounts to nothing more than legalized money laundering. They have re-routed and finagled money that in a 2 year vetting process, had been decided to be spent a certain way. They have ignored that 2 year vetting process, in which, not a single citizen asked for a new central branch. Not one. And to that, Commissioner Lynn Riley has gone on the record saying,Pitts et all hijacked the process. But has a prosecutable crime been committed? Not yet. And though what's being done might be legal, but it's anything but right. No, it's wrong.

Very wrong.

In closing, I'll say this. I have no delusions of grandeur in thinking that I am some supreme arbiteur of justice. I am just one man. Yet, it is interesting how the facts seem to have a way of showing up at the most inopportune time...just ask GWB. He can tell you all about that.

Oh yea, and I hear the AJC is laying off 200 journalist. How painful. Yet, with slop like yours being sold as news, I can't imagine why.

Now is not the time to squander money on some extra $100M pet project. The City of Atlanta is already struggling with insurmountable debt. Again, The AJC is laying off 200...hello? Even Starbucks is closing 600 stores...hello? Foreclosures??? Banks are collapsing??? The economy???

You have misrepresented the voice of the people.

You have done the public a great injustice.

And it has not gone unnoticed.




Friday, July 18, 2008

Progress Is Preservation


Update: Central Branch Library

In the two brief orations that I (Max Eternity) have been fortunate to give before The Fulton County Board of Commissioners, and in a desire to echo the same sentiment(s) online, a set of beliefs have developed, which prompted me to create the Central Branch Library blog (see first blog entry). Then here in today's edition of the The Atlanta Journal Constitution, the same case is put forth in perfect form.

With clarity and vision, a woman named Cynthia Rogers has penned a piece entitled: Progress In Preservation.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dead On Arrival: The Library Master Plan (revised)



What started out as beauty, has been transformed into the beast. For today, five of the seven Fulton County Commissioners, decided that their own personal interests were more important than the publics' collective best interest. With the end result being that from the original Library Master Plan's budget, $34M dollars has been siphoned off, to this $50M has been added for some down the road (pie in the sky) pork barrel 'trophy library' project. Of course we were assured that this would be in the people's best interest, yet by judging the crowd at today's meeting, the commissioners (save Riley and Eaves) were the only ones who seemed convinced of that.

The rest of us weren't buying it.

Not only that, why attempt to force something onto the public that they don't want. Meaning that not a single person who attended the meeting asked for a new downtown library. We like the one we already got and fixing it up will only cost us $34M...$34M which has now been stripped away.

Now again, this $34M was the money that was supposed to refurbish the existing Central Branch Library, a noteworthy building that was designed by legendary Bauhaus architect, Marcel Breuer. But now that money is gone. And as if it were not enough to toss the Central Branch Library down a memory hole of abysmal neglect, the commissioners then decided to go back and double dip in the public treasury to add another $50M to this Faustian deal, sitting a total of $84M aside (supposedly with good intent) yet bloating the Library Master Plan's total budget by almost 25% bringing the grand total to $275M.

So let's see, we GET LESS but PAY MORE...with the promise of something (maybe?) down the road.


Needless to say, by the time all this ridiculousness rolled around, the entire room began to reak of bacon and fatback.

And if you're reading this wondering, why? What? This doesn't make good sense. Well, join the club. Because if ever there were a textbook example of over-indulgent, self-congratulatory, pork barrel spending, disguised as loyal, public service...then this is it!

The people didn't ask for this. For as it is, we are already struggling to maintain what we've already got. Thus, we do not want any additional, unnecessary debts. We already have buildings that need taking care of and the commissioners themselves have publicly admitted several times that everybody was happy with the original plan and that the people were overwhelmingly against any additional new debt that went beyond any monies already decided upon. And yet, somehow or another, we got screwed.

We demanded satisfaction, but instead we were treated to a dog and pony show to the tune of $84M. Because, neither do we get a refurbish central branch nor do we get a new central branch. Basically, all we get is a promise. And while we are all looking the other way waiting for our "cross my heart, hope to die" promise to be fulfilled in the form of a glorious new central library...who will be watching the $84M? Because with the price of the average new "centerpiece" city library costing near $300M, exactly how, how long and what will getting that kind of money actually involve.

Hello? The economy? The falling dollar? The collapsing banking system?

Hence in the end, there is only one way to explain why we got what THEY wanted instead of what WE wanted.

Hubris and Pork.

But perhaps by the time the referendum reaches the ballot box (general election) in November 2008, this nefarious, money-siphoning plan will brought to the light of day and the people (we, all of us) will reject it hands down.

It's the only sensible thing to do.

But, until then...we're stuck with hubris and pork.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

July 16th - The Final Push

July 16th marks the final critical phase for the Central Branch Library, a historical site that was designed by legendary artist/architect Marcel Breuer. (scroll down to learn more)


Date: July 16th, 2008

Time: 10:00am - 3:00pm

Fulton County Board of Commissioners
141 Pryor Street, SW
Atlanta, Georgia 30303


If you can make it to this meeting, your support would be much appreciated. Otherwise, phone calls and emails to the county commissioners make a wonderful substitute.

Contact The Fulton County Board of Commissioners by clicking here.


Friday, July 4, 2008

Library Master Plan

The executive summary of the Atlanta-Fulton Library Master Plan as drafted by it's director, John Szabo, leads off by clearly calling for the renovation of the existing Central Branch and NOT for building a new $173,000,000 Central Branch, as desired (and pushed for) by Commissioner Robb Pitts; a disastrous idea that would lead the county toward unprecedented debt.


Your Library's Facility Master Plan

Executive Summary

The stakeholders of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System have realized for some time that a comprehensive master plan for library facilities is needed. It was clear that our Board of Commissioners and Library Board of Trustees needed and wanted a plan to guide decisions on facilities: identifying where citizens are unserved, where they are underserved, where libraries are most needed, what is the optimal size, and what improvements need to be made to our existing facilities-a plan that will examine these issues for the entire service area, not just one neighborhood or community. Most importantly, this much needed and desired plan must be fair, unbiased, and based on good information and valid, authoritative data. I believe this plan accomplishes this.

With the excellent assistance of the Sizemore Group, the Fulton County General Services Department, the Department of Environment and Community Development, the Atlanta Housing Authority and many others, this plan makes recommendations for:

• Ten new branch libraries-five of which will replace services at seven existing facilities.
• Major expansion and improvements of the Auburn Avenue Research Library
• Complete reprogramming and renovation of the Central Library
• Renovations and improvements at most existing branch facilities.


The above statement is just the intro to the Library Master Plan. For those interested in reading the entire master plan, it can be be found by clicking here.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

UPDATE: Commissioners Meeting

Though it's still undecided as to what the fate of the current Central Branch, Library will be, one things for sure. The push by Commissioner Robb Pitts to add an additional $173,000,000 to the already $225,000,000 Library Master Plan, so that a new (tourist attraction) Central Branch can be built, is losing steam fast. As today, during the Commission meeting, there were signs of a cracking solidarity between board members. This was most notable when Commissioners Emma Darnell, Bill Edwards and John Eaves expressed their concerns about the inadequate planning and bloated budget put forth by Robb Pitts. But it's it's not over just yet. There's one last critical meeting coming up on July 16th, whereupon it should become entirely clear what the future of the Central Branch will be. Nonetheless, there is still cause for celebration, as we have now been assured that the Buckhead Library will be kept intact. Buckhead has been saved!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

June 2nd Commissioners Meeting

There will be a commissioners meeting on July 2nd, 2008. Among other things, at this meeting will be discussed (and debated) the financial (and cultural) costs of abandoning the existing Central Branch Library; designed by legendary artist/architect Marcel Breuer.

Time: 10:00am - 3:00pm

Place: Fulton County Board of Commissioners
141 Pryor Street, SW
Atlanta, Georgia 30303

For those you can attend, this is a very important meeting. And for those who (for whatever reason) cannot attend. You can always make phone calls or send emails. Click here to visit the commissioners website which has all pertinent contact information.

Monday, June 30, 2008

John Szabo - Public Library System Director

Less than a month ago, the leadership of the Fulton County Commission voted to amend it's Library Master Plan. So that now, instead of providing funding for the expected cost of repairs and general maintenance of the existing infrastructure, they want to instead build a very expensive new Central Branch...and abandon the existing Central Branch all together. This has all come about in a very short period of time.

Yet now that it public knowledge that the future of the Central Branch is in question. We need to know what the Director of the Library System believes to be in the best interest of the public.
After all, this is a public institution. So the publics' voice should be heard. This can't just be a hurried and hushed, a one sided debate? Thus, where does the Director of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System stand on all this?

Well? Click here to read his opinion... opinion that was published just a few days ago in the Atlanta Journal Constitution. It's a glowing, well-penned piece that highlights out all the pros and omits many of the cons. Nonetheless, I admire and respect Mr. Szabo for having the courage to be so forthright in his desires. Yet, one still has to wonder if he fully comprehends all sides of the issues. Like, what about the costs, costs that just might sink the entire plan? And again, why build something we don't really need. And too, why are we in such a rush? Don't we need more than a month to decide on something this big and important? Mr Szabo, on an issue that has become one of the library system's most important issues of all times, now more than ever, we really need your guidance.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Atlantans For Progressive Libraries

While this blog was created specifically to address the future concerns of the Central Branch Library, there is also another historically significant public library currently at risk, the Buckhead Branch. As well, for those who might be interested in getting a broader scope of other pressing agendas that relate directly and indirectly to the Central Branch and the Buckhead Branch, there is a very informative site packed with lots of good information: click here

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Central Branch


The Issue:

In the course of this year, Fulton County, represented by it's commissioners, has created a master plan for the entire public library system. This master plan essentially renovates, overhauls, and upgrades the entire public library system. Meaning that, some new libraries will be built, others will be restored. At the center of all this are John Eaves (district 1), Commission Chairman and Commissioner At Large, Rob Pitts (district 2) Commissioner At Large, and Tom Lowe (district 4).

Now originally, the Central Branch, which is the crown jewel of the entire library system, was slated for a much needed renovation. And as best I know, that renovation was voted on by the board of commissioners and as a result of a majority "yea" vote, the building was assured a safe, secure future. Then, in a surprise twist, just weeks before the final vote was to take place on the library master plan (which then becomes a bond referendum for public vote in November) one of the commissioners, Mr. Rob Pitts, made a motion to amend the master plan. This amendment would take the money already allotted for the Central Branch and divert it toward the construction cost of building, what I suppose he considers, a bigger, better (visually and technologically au courant) public library. And herein lies the problem and the heated debate that has ensued. Because, as it stands, some (including myself) see this as a rather Faustian deal. On the surface it sounds good, but when one realizes that this newer, grander library would come at the expense of one of Atlanta's most iconic and historically significant architectural structures, the amended plan starts to seem questionable.


Because, progress should not come at the price of preservation. And furthermore, if we are struggling to take care of what we have, why burden ourselves with something new?

But let's be clear about this. Bigger, better, not a bad thing. In fact, it can sometimes be good. However, we must be (with satisfaction) able to challenge and address the concerns for all parties involved. We can't just move full steam ahead without looking both ways, as this might surely lead to disaster. In short, in some, way, shape or form, the future of the existing Central Branch must be affirmed and ensured.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Preserving our civic heritage while ensuring a path to progression

The creation of this blog has been done so as to provide a public forum for the preservation of the Marcel Breuer, Bauhaus designed, Atlanta-Fulton Central Branch Public Library. For as it stands the future of this priceless, iconic structure now hangs in the balance. And while the function of this building and it's historic presence holds dear and near to the hearts of many, this is especially true for me, as my own personal art and design experience is in direct aesthetic lineage to the original German Bauhaus School.

For those who are interested in this matter, you may click here to find a page that provides a solid overview of the Central Branch's origin and history. And within that site there are a multitude of links which one can use to delve deeper into rich architectural genealogy of the building's creator.

In the days and weeks to follow this site will be updated to provide a chronology of important developments and call(s) to action.


Max Eternity