Tag Archives: Community Boards

A 311 Bone for Community Boards, or a Snow Job?

Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith

Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith said today that “we’re 30 days away” from giving community boards “real-time 311 data,” but that he would have to confirm this.

He made his comment in response to a question by Councilmember Gale Brewer at today’s City Council hearings on the Blizzard of 2010.

But a Brooklyn community board district manager who has seen a prototype of the system cautions that the 311 data will not be what the boards had requested.

Despite some incisive questioning, especially by Councilmember Jumaane Williams (45CD), the mayor’s representatives toughed it out and protected Bloomberg by saying that they, not he, had made the crucial decisions.

Sanitation Commissioner John J. Doherty

But when it came time to specify which managers had made which decisions, no one took responsibility. Goldsmith called himself a “coordinator” who had left it to commissioners John Doherty (DSNY) and Joe Bruno (OEM) to make the critical operational calls. They said the decision-making scenario was a group process.

No one admitted City Hall had erred in delaying declaration of a snow emergency.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg’s political operatives are working in Albany on their real agenda: gutting the civil service merit system.

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Scissura: Practice What You Preach

2010 NYC Charter Revision Commission

The 2010 NYC Charter Revision Commission spent much of its July 12 meeting agonizing over ways to restore the public’s faith in government and increase voter participation. It did not acknowledge that voter apathy may stem from the public’s resignation that billionaires will continue to control the Mayor’s office, and that selection of City Council members may make little difference in shaping City Hall’s major decisions.

The webcast meeting had been convened to discuss the commission staff’s July 9 preliminary report. But as quickly as the staff’s proposal for instant run-off voting — IRV — appeared on the pages of that report, it got jettisoned when chairman Matthew Goldstein’s colleagues complained that they never had discussed it. Continue reading

Charter Revision: Hints of What’s to Come

Matthew Goldstein

Past practice suggests that charter revision chair Matthew Goldstein will use the commission’s June 24 forum on Land Use to signal what his panel will focus on as it moves into summer.

We — and others — have criticized the NYC Charter Revision Commission’s calendar, which delays publication of land use proposals until July. This is too late for most community boards to draw residents to public hearings to comment on any proposed changes. The commission must submit its final proposals to the City Clerk by Labor Day to get them on November’s ballot. Continue reading

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

Brad Hoylman Responds

Brad Hoylman

Brad Hoylman took the time to phone us to explain his June 10 Charter Revision Commission invited testimony. He asked why we oppose his proposal — indistinguishable from that of Manhattan BP Scott Stringer — to force each community board to hire a planner to provide technical support on land use, transportation, liquor license, or sidewalk café issues.

Hoylman said having such a planner on staff would give community boards “teeth” — in our view, an overstatement — and would help boards “inhibit new development” as well as support it. Taking his assertions at face value, we tried to explain our concerns. Continue reading

Who is Brad Hoylman?

Brad Hoylman

The strongest push to hobble NYC’s community boards by forcing them to hire dedicated planners and revert to a narrower “planning board” role (an idea we strongly oppose) came not from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, but from the former chairman of Manhattan Community Board 2, Brad Hoylman, who was one of five invited “experts” who spoke at the Charter Revision Commission’s June 10 session on Government Structure in Staten Island. Why the commission chose Hoylman as a featured guest became evident upon examination of his credentials. Continue reading

Charter Revision: Speaking Truth to Power

Father Richard Gorman

It took four hours until anyone — expert witnesses, charter commission members, or one of the evening’s 21 informal speakers — finally zeroed in on why voter participation has plummeted in NYC over the last two decades:

“Maybe the reason why people don’t vote is they don’t think it’s worth the trouble of going to vote for a government that increasingly shuts them out.”

The speaker was Father Richard Gorman, chairman of Community Board 12 in The Bronx. Unfortunately, by the time he spoke, at 10:05 PM, the panelists, half the commissioners, and almost all the main-stream press, had deserted the Lehman College auditorium. The few audience members who lingered were mayoral aides or one-issue advocates for non-partisan elections. Continue reading