Subject: Yankee Stadium Proves To Be Undoing of a Bronx Board
NB- Perhaps what happened at Bronx CB4 is the logical conclusion of the
real purpose of community boards: to provide political cover for
elected officials making bad decisions. In some ways it's similar to
what occurred at Manhattan Board 4 with echoes also at Manhattan
Boards 2 and 3.
Former Manhattan Borough President was quick to remove board members
who didn't agree with her or criticized her. Last year at Manhattan
CB 1 Fields removed chair Madeleine Wils.
So far this year, despite his promises to the contrary, the new
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer is going right down the
path of Fields and Carrion. His new appointments shine with political
hacks. He's left many of the conflicted members -- those who rubber
stamp large developments, noisy nightclubs, etc. -- stay in place. So
the boards stay the same, covering the ass of the elected officials
by not doing the due diligence that's required. - Tenant
Publication: The New York Sun; Date: Jun 27, 2006;
Section: New York; Page: 2
Yankee Stadium Proves To Be Undoing of a Bronx Board
Bronx Community Board 4 has in recent days become among the best
known of the city's 62 community boards. This is the board that voted
against the plan to build the new Yankee Stadium. These boards only
have advisory power. But having the weight of these "official"
representatives of the local neighborhoods behind a project can
influence the higher officials who really make the decisions.
Tonight, at Bronx Lebanon Hospital on the Grand Concourse, the
board will hold its final meeting before old terms expire and new
ones begin. Fireworks are expected. The board that will be in place
next week will look quite different from the one that will meet
tonight. Members of the board who ignored the wishes of the Bronx
president, Adolfo Carrion, have been removed, and new, presumably
more pliable members will take their place.
It is the Yankee Stadium matter that has proven to be the
undoing of the current board. All of those who voted against the plan
and whose terms expire failed to win reappointment. Even the chair of
the board, Ade Rasul, who actually voted for the Carrion-backed
Stadium plan, was removed. It is said that Mr. Carrion was displeased
that he couldn't keep the other members in line. Since the boards'
powers are so limited, there is little precedent in the Bronx for
such an approach. Usually board members who show up on a regular
basis are retained without question.
The controversy over the board appointments has begun to seep
from the immediate area into the citywide press. This is because Mr.
Carrion is viewed as a potential candidate for higher office, perhaps
even mayor.This has become the first widely publicized glimpse at Mr.
Carrion in action.
To many of us in the Bronx, the idea of Mr. Carrion taking over
City Hall is ludicrous. But Mr. Carrion has assumed the mantle of the
city's leading Hispanic politico from his predecessor in borough
hall, Fernando Ferrer. Yet while Mr. Ferrer was tolerant of opposing
positions taken by his community board appointees, Mr. Carrion is not.
Each community board can have up to 50 members. Members serve
for two years, with half of the board appointed or reappointed each
year. All of the appointments are made by the borough president,
although half are chosen from among nominees of City Council members.
In most districts, the full complement of 50 is appointed. But in
some neighborhoods, such as the area served by Community Board 4,
finding people to serve in what is usually a thankless, often boring
position for no pay is nearly impossible.
Mr. Carrion's "Memorial Day Massacre"has drawn additional
criticism because Board 4 is down to only 39 members. Mr. Carrion
could have added all of the new appointees without removing a single
incumbent. Some of the axed members have served for decades.
Mr. Carrion has done this before. In 2002, he refused to
reappoint Mary Lauro to Community Board 12 in the northeast Bronx.
Ms. Lauro had blown the whistle on an episode in Mr. Carrion's career
that continues to haunt him. In 2000, while Mr. Ferrer was still
borough president, a rezoning plan for the Board 12 area was proposed
by Mayor Giuliani, designed to limit the possibility of more "hot sheet
motels" from being constructed. At the time there were 18 such
establishments, viewed as hotbeds of prostitution and other crimes,
within the area served by the board.
A small number of property owners, eager to keep the option to
develop their properties for these motels open, hired an attorney
named Linda Baldwin, then a law partner of Bronx Democratic boss
Roberto Ramirez. Ms. Baldwin convinced the community board to
narrowly reject the Giuliani plan to thwart the motels.It was
Ms.Lauro who disclosed that Ms. Baldwin was also Mrs. Adolfo Carrion.
Mr. Carrion, then a city council member, had received a $2,000
contribution from one of the property owners, Oscar Porcelli.
In Riverdale, Mr. Carrion packed the board with supporters and
then contrived to have his campaign treasurer, Anthony Perez Cassino,
made chairman. Mr. Cassino resigned his campaign post, but he remains
board chairman.The perception grew that the road to approval of land
use projects becomes smoother when the way is greased with campaign
This kind of inside baseball rarely sees the light of day,
particularly in a borough in which the district attorney has shown no
inclination of investigating any Democratic machine loyalist. But the
harsh light of a mayoral campaign is different. That is why there
will be close attention paid to this final meeting of Community Board