Category Archives: Community Boards

Community Boards: A Vicious Circle

Ira B. Harkavy

Ira Harkavy, Florence Nathanson, Esther Lopato and Helen Henkin were community board members back in the day when board membership meant more than echoing the mayor’s priorities or being ignored.

The three women are gone; Harkavy, who quit as chairman of Brooklyn Community Board 14 to run for the bench, is retired from a long and respected judicial career during which he inspired a Hollywood film by sentencing a landlord to live in his own tenement.

All of them were “plugged in” (Harkavy, for example, concurrently led CB14, the Madison Jewish Center, the Brooklyn College campus foundation and alumni association, the Brooklyn College Hillel House, and the Midwood Development Corporation); all adhered to the highest ethical standards; all commanded respect and all used their formidable intellectual and moral powers to ensure that City Hall paid attention to the needs of Flatbush and Midwood, the neighborhoods their board comprised. Continue reading

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Community Board Budgets to be Restored

Mayor Bloomberg’s Fiscal Year 2011 Executive Budget calls for the restoration of community board funding to $198,895.

The restoration comes after almost $60,000 in reductions proposed by the mayor’s Office of Management and Budget earlier this year.

Those proposed reductions prompted many community board members to argue for “baseline budgeting” at April’s charter revision commission public hearings. Many boards also reached out for help to their borough presidents and City Council members. Continue reading

Monday’s charter commission hearing: deceptively full

Bronx Councilman G. Oliver Koppell, who spoke out against term limits

By Jonathan Berk

At the end of Monday’s Charter Revision Commission public hearing at Hostos Community College in The Bronx, commission chair Matthew Goldstein thanked the public for their “robust” participation over the almost-three-hour session. Indeed, the hearing was full of voices, with 37 speakers from The Bronx’s citizenry, electorate, and civic institutions, saying their part over the course of the evening. But if the chair also was referring to the session’s attendance—which we estimated at no more than 120 people—then “robust” was little more than an optical illusion. Continue reading

Community Boards Threatened

Image: Madison Area Technical College

Less than a year ago, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced that “civic service may be the most important thing we ever do” as he launched his “NYC Service” initiative to promote volunteerism and “channel New Yorkers’ good intentions to tackle our greatest challenges, particularly those caused by the economic downturn.”

Today, he violated that commitment by authorizing a devastating budget cut to NYC’s community boards, whose almost 3,000 members constitute the city’s largest cadre of civic volunteers.

In an email to the city’s 59 boards, mayoral budget official Randolph R. Panetta announced that budget director Mark Page had ordered each community board’s budget cut by $15,542 — a droplet in the huge bucket that is the city’s $4.9 billion Fiscal Year 2011 budget shortfall, but a cut so severe at the local level that many boards will have to reduce staffs that already number only two or three employees. Continue reading

Parks Group Charter Alert: Community Boards Threatened

In an essay they call “The Five Cs,” the concerned New Yorkers who head the parks advocacy organization, “250+ Friends of Parks,” remind our readers about the possibility that a charter revision this year could try to eliminate community boards. Our own take is that ultimately, a Bloomberg 2010 charter revision commission will not move to eliminate community boards entirely, but can be expected to propose changes that will limit their scope or effectiveness.

The Five Cs piece is after the break, linked to a City Hall News article by Dan Rivoli about new City Council Government Operations Committee Chair Gale Brewer. As Rivoli notes, Brewer may be in favor of eliminating Council lulus, a change we think could strengthen mayoral power at the expense of the Council. Continue reading

Community Boards in the News: Feb. 5, 2010

The Daily News reports that Freshman Queens Councilman Dan Halloran (R-19CD) has let veteran members of Queens Community Boards 7 and 11 know their years of volunteer service won’t matter if recent attendance at board meetings is poor. “We need new blood,” Halloran said.

Spec News reports on Manhattan Board 7’s rejection of a sidewalk café permit renewal for Magnolia Bakery.

Queens Tribune reports on community board budget priorities eliminated from the mayor’s Executive Budget.

Manhattan Community Board 4 viewed as crucial to approval of proposed Hell’s Kitchen hotel and entertainment complex for the gay community.

The Manhattan Borough President’s office says school zoning issues are like other land use issues when considering community board members’ conflicts of interest.

Mcbrooklyn covers Marty Markowitz’s State of the Borough address; notes BP’s intent to strengthen community boards through charter revision.

Community Boards in the News

Queens Community Board 1 is reviewing a proposed “spot” rezoning of 240 blocks in Astoria. A public hearing will be held on Tuesday, February 16.

Brooklyn Community Board 6 moves closer to disapproving a charter school’s special permit application. New York Magazine calls this “a classic case of intrusive ‘nanny state’ overreach.”

Former Manhattan CB2 District Manager Rita Lee is recovering from hip surgery in Vermont.

Manhattan Community Board 3 fights proposed East Side bus route service cuts. Meeting scheduled for February 10.

Queens Community Board 7 to consider proposed Flushing Commons mixed-use development project for Flushing Municipal Parking Lot site.