BREAKING: Judge halts library closures

This just in from Chris Brennan at 1:15 p.m.:

Court of Common Pleas Judge Idee Fox just ordered Mayor Nutter and the Free Library of Philadelphia to halt their plans to shutter 11 branch libraries after 5 p.m. tomorrow.

 A group of seven library patrons, along with the union that represents librarians, sued Nutter and the Free Library, saying that a 20-year-old ordinance prohibits the mayor from closing city buildings without approval by City Council. Three Council members — Bill Green, Jannie Blackwell and Jack Kelly — filed a similar lawsuit.

Although the city administration has said they don't think the ordinance is valid, Fox upheld the section of the code. She noted that Nutter did not seek Council approval. "He did not do that," she said.

Fox said that because Nutter announced plans to close the libraries, he has to go before Council. "Closed is closed. The mayor used the word closed," Fox said.

Fox put a verbal order in place until Jan 5 when she'll issue a written order.

In November, Nutter announced plans to shut 11 of the city’s 54 library branches as part of a massive cost cutting effort to shore up a $1 billion budget gap in the city budget over the next five years.

Continue Reading