Saturday, March 31, 2007

Sunday March 11, 2007 Installation of CB9M Officers at Havana Central

Sunday March 11, 2007

Community Board No. 9 Manhattan
Installation of Officers
at Havana Central in the West End

Jackie Rowe Adams Sings The Star Spangled Banner

Officers being sworn in by The Rt. Rev. Kowalski, Dean
of St. John The Divine Cathedral Church

The Rt. Rev. Kowalski, NYS Assembly Member Hon. Keith L.T. Wright,
Hon. Jackie Rowe Adams, District Leader and CB9M Chairman Reyes-Montblanc

L to R Yvonne Stennet Asst. Treasurer, Barbara Marshall, Treasurer,
Ramona Jannette, Asst. Secretary, Theodore Kovaleff, Secretary
Patricia Jones, 2nd Vice Chair, Carolyn Thompson, 1st Vice Chair
and Chairman Jordi Reyes-Montblanc

Chairman Reyes-Montblanc being Sworn in by The Rt. Rev. Kowalski

Jackie Rowe Adams sings America The Beautiful

Miss Ernestine Welch, Chair of Seniors Issues Committee
and Mr. Martin Smith, Director Constituency Services,
Office of Council Member Robert Jackson

Yvonne Stennet, Co-Chair Housing, Land Use & Zoning with Daughter

Chairman Reyes-Montblanc and Hon. Keith L.T. Wright

Board Member Diane Wilson and Maritta Dunn, Chair Piers,
Waterfront & economic Development

The Hon. Herman "Denny" Farrell, Jr. addresses the
audience and congratulates newly installed Officers
The Hon. Keith L.T. Wright acted as Master of Ceremonies

Board Member Cecil Corbin-Marks

Ramona Jeannette, Asst. Secretary and Co-Chair Youth, Education & Libraries
Committee and her husband Mr. Jeannette

Mr. Martin Smith and Carlotta Damanda, Parliamentarian

Ms. Eutha Prince, CB9M Senior Staff

The Wrecking Crew

Photographs Courtesy of CB9M Board Member Michael J. Palma, Phtographer To the Stars

Friday, March 30, 2007

Tensions Over French Identity Shape Voter Drives

Tensions Over French Identity Shape Voter Drives

Nicolas Sarkozy, left, the conservative candidate in France’s presidential campaign, and Ségolène Royal, right, the Socialist candidate, have been debating what it means to be French in what is interpreted as an effort to woo right-wing voters and reassure the French of their role in the world.

Published: March 30, 2007

PARIS, March 29 — France’s presidential campaign has been seized by a subject long monopolized by the extreme right: how best to be French.

The conservative candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy, wants to create a ministry of “immigration and national identity” that would require newcomers to embrace the secular values of the republican state.

The Socialist candidate, Ségolène Royal, wants every French citizen to memorize “La Marseillaise” and keep a French flag in the cupboard for public display on Bastille Day.

The far-right candidate, Jean-Marie Le Pen, of the National Front party, chortles that his rivals have stolen — and therefore validated — his message of “France for the French.”

Some political commentators have accused Mr. Sarkozy of harking back to the darkest period in modern French history: the collaborationist Vichy government during the Nazi occupation. Ms. Royal, meanwhile, is being attacked by both her rivals and her own camp for manipulating symbols that historically have been the domain of the far right.
With the first round of the election 24 days away, the battle over French identity has overtaken discussion of more practical issues like reducing unemployment and making France more competitive.

On Tuesday, as if to underscore the tensions over identity, roving bands of young people threw objects at the police, smashed store windows and damaged property for several hours at the Gare du Nord, a major train station in Paris. The trouble started when an illegal immigrant from Congo jumped a turnstile in the subway and tried to punch a transit agent who asked to see his ticket.

The police shut down the subway and commuter train system, arrested 13 suspects and used tear gas before restoring order after midnight.

The shift to debating Frenchness is aimed in part at luring the right-wing vote away from Mr. Le Pen, who shocked France in 2002 when he finished the first round of voting in second place.

It is also an attempt to reassure jittery voters that France will remain an important power at a time when it is losing prominence in a larger European Union and a globalized world and struggling with a disaffected Muslim and ethnic Arab and African population at home.

“Resolving the identity crisis in France is a very serious problem, but both Nicolas Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal have trivialized it in this election,” said Eric Dupin, a political scientist and an author. “Both of them are playing on the fears and the base emotions of the people.”

François Bayrou, the centrist candidate who leads the tiny Union for French Democracy party, denounced the “nationalistic obsession” that had infiltrated the campaign. “Every time in our past that we have wanted to go back to external signs, it has led to periods that are unhappy,” he said.

For the past few years, France has struggled with economic and cultural issues related to its immigrants. One is shared by much of the rest of Europe: how to stop the influx of illegal immigrants who drain a country’s economy and social services. A second is how to force French citizens of immigrant origin to obey laws, including those banning practices like polygamy and the wearing of head scarves by Muslim girls and women in schools and universities.

As interior minister before he stepped down Monday to focus on his campaign, Mr. Sarkozy tightened immigration laws and boasted that he had expelled tens of thousands of illegal immigrants and prevented others from entering. His pledge in 2005 to rid France’s ethnic Arab and Muslim suburbs of “scum” contributed to a three-week orgy of violence there.

Mr. Sarkozy, who has largely avoided the suburbs during his campaign, has criticized immigrants and their offspring who resist the French model of integration, saying it is unacceptable to want to live in France without respecting and loving the country or learning French.

He touched off the current debate in a television appearance on March 8 when he announced a plan to create a “ministry of immigration and national identity” if elected.

Ms. Royal called the plan “disgraceful,” adding, “Foreign workers have never threatened French identity.”

“Indecent,” was the reaction of Azouz Begag, the minister for equal opportunity. “I’m not stupid, and neither are the French,” he said. “It’s a hook to go and look for the lost sheep of the National Front.”

Simone Veil, a beloved former government minister and Holocaust survivor, found herself denouncing Mr. Sarkozy’s idea shortly after she endorsed him for president.

“I didn’t at all like this very ambiguous formula,” she told the magazine Marianne. She said a ministry for immigration and “integration” would be a better idea.

Mr. Sarkozy was unfazed. “I want the promotion of a common culture,” he said in reply to his critics.

Indeed, an OpinionWay Internet poll for the newspaper Le Figaro, splashed on the paper’s front page this month, indicated that 55 percent of French voters approved. Sixty-five percent agreed that the “immigrants who join us must sign up to the national identity.”

Although the poll was conducted using a representative sample via the Internet, not by using more reliable telephone surveys, it was widely cited as evidence that the French wanted a more restrictive immigration policy and that they wanted Muslims here conform to secular French customs.

But Mr. Sarkozy’s proposal has revived memories of the Vichy era. The idea of a national identity ministry has been compared to the General Commissariat of Jewish Affairs, which was created with ministerial rank under the Vichy administration. “Only Vichy developed administrative structures in their efficient way to defend a certain concept of ‘national identity,’ ” the columnist Philippe Bernard wrote in Le Monde last week. He said that the Commissariat, “even before being a tool in the service of the policy of extermination, responded to the objective of purification of the French nation.”

Some conservative Jewish voters, who were planning to vote for Mr. Sarkozy because of his staunch support of Israel, say they now are considering shifting to Mr. Bayrou.

Despite Ms. Royal’s criticism of Mr. Sarkozy, she followed his lead by wrapping herself tightly in her own mantle of nationalism. She started by encouraging her supporters to sing “La Marseillaise,” the national anthem and the rallying cry of the right, at the end of her rallies.

Last week in southern France, which historically votes for the right and extreme right, she called for a “reconquest of the symbols of the nation” from the right.

She said all French citizens should have the French flag at home, adding, “In other countries, they put the flag in the windows on their national holiday.” And she promised that if elected, she would “ensure that the French know ‘La Marseillaise.’ ”

In the end, both camps acknowledge that they are trying to appeal to voters on the right.

“Ségolène Royal is taking back the terrain too often abandoned by the left for ages to the right and the extreme right,” said a former defense and interior minister, Jean-Pierre Chevènement, who supports her.

Mr. Sarkozy was more explicit. “Since 1983, we have the strongest far right in Europe,” he said this month. “We must not proceed as if it does not exist. I want to talk to those who have moved toward the far right because they are suffering.”

During a campaign trip last week in the Caribbean, where some of the region’s residents can vote in French elections, Mr. Sarkozy boasted that after he proposed his immigration and national identity ministry, his standing in the polls jumped.

More Articles in International »

Small Business Services Newsletter - April 1, 2007

Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2007 17:17:42 -0400 (EDT)
From: "My News"
Subject: Small Business Services Newsletter - April 1, 2007

April 1, 2007

Serving New York's Businesses
City Helps Fashion Firms "Design" Business Plans
April 1, 2007 - When the major design houses show off their creations at New York Fashion Week in February and September each year, all eyes turn to the runway. But the fashion industry has an important presence in New York City year round. Full Story

Opening a Restaurant in NYC? Then We're Sending You to Boot Camp
April 1, 2007 - Thinking about opening a restaurant in New York City? "Restaurant Boot Camp," a free, half-day seminar on starting and managing a restaurant, is the right place to start. The course, which is offered at the Lower Manhattan Business Solutions Center, is taught by a business consultant with a specialty in the restaurant industry, and covers everything from obtaining permits to labor laws to the City's health code. Full Story

City Program Connects Your Biz to Show Biz
April 1, 2007 - Looking to tap into business from the City's $5 billion entertainment industry? The Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting's "Made in NY" Discount Card program can introduce your business to the industry. Full Story More Information for Businesses NYC Business SolutionsMinority and Woman-Owned Business Enterprise ProgramMayor's Office of Industrial and Manufacturing Businesses

Serving New York's Jobseekers

City Trains Jobseekers for Demands of Today's Economy

April 1, 2007 - For twenty-five years Julius Diaz worked at John Chatillon & Sons, a mechanical scales manufacturer in Kew Gardens, Queens, as a quality control inspector. When the company closed its factory in 2005, Diaz, 55-years-old at the time, was left without a job. Working with a counselor at the Career Center, Diaz decided to use his unemployment benefits for a concentrated training program in computer technology. Diaz attended courses at ACE Computer Training Center in Forest Hills, and is now a COMPTIA Certified A+ and N+ technician. Full Story

Sectors Initiative Charts New Course for Job Training
April 1, 2007 - More than 300 New Yorkers are receiving training for jobs in growing industries thanks to a new partnership between SBS and the Workforce Development Funders Group, a group of foundations which pool their money to address workforce development issues. Full Story

SBS Creates "Organic" Relationship with Whole Foods Market
April 1, 2007 - Robert Libertella, a Staten Island native, is among the 350 New Yorkers who have received jobs at Whole Foods Market's new store, which opened at the corner of Houston and Bowery on March 29. Mr. Libertella, who will be a chef at the new store, said he has "never seen anything like this" in terms of the City placing such a large number of New Yorkers in jobs. Full Story

WIB's Web Expands With Three New Members
April 1, 2007 - Mark Elliott, Robert C. Lieber and Ramon M. Tallaj have recently joined the City's Workforce Investment Board (WIB), the body which oversees and establishes policies for an array of employment and training services for businesses and jobseekers funded by the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. Full Story

City Partners to Make New York More Hospitable to Tourism Industry
February 22, 2007 - Kingsborough Community College (KCC) today announced that it has been awarded a $l.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to provide free training for more than 500 city residents for employment in the hospitality industry. Full Story

More Information for Jobseekers

Workforce1 Career Centers

Workforce Investment Board

Serving New York's Neighborhoods

BID to Help Sunnyside's Commercial Corridor Shine

April 1, 2007 - Home to dozens of restaurants, the Museum of African Art, and the Thalia Spanish Theater, Sunnyside is a vibrant neighborhood in Queens known for its ethnic diversity. The community, located along the 7 train just minutes from the Queensboro Bridge and Queens Midtown tunnel, is home to growing international restaurants and an expanding arts community. In an effort to support this development and provide additional services to the central commercial corridor of the neighborhood, the Department of Small Business Services is partnering with local groups to develop a Business Improvement District (BID) in the neighborhood. Full Story

Make Your "Next Stop" Right Here!
April 1, 2007 - Thinking about what neighborhood should be your next stop for eating, shopping and sightseeing in New York City? From the views of the City skyline offered from Roosevelt Island to the artists of DUMBO to the "global village" of Jackson Heights, the Next Stop: NYC website offers the low-down on some of the City's most diverse, fascinating and fun neighborhoods along the "F" subway line - and specifics on where to eat, shop and sightsee in each. Full Story

We Want to Know: Who's Making a Difference in Your Neighborhood?
March 19, 2007 - The New York City Department of Small Business Services today called for the nomination of individuals, small businesses and community organizations for the 2007 Neighborhood Achievement Awards, to be hosted by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Commissioner Robert W. Walsh at Gracie Mansion in July. Full Story

More Information on Neighborhoods
Business Improvement DistrictsNext Stop: NYC This is the News you requested for:Small

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C'mon, Columbia, Take Eminent Domain Off the Table

From: "Mercedes Narciso"
To: "Jordi Reyes-Montblanc" , Subject:
FW: CRD Newsletter: "C'mon, Columbia, Take Eminent Domain Off the Table"
Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2007 16:35:33 -0400

Mercedes Narciso
Tel. (718) 636-3486 x6449

From: Center for Rethinking Development []
Sent: Friday, March 30, 2007 3:30 PM
To: mnarciso@pratt.eduSubject: CRD Newsletter: "C'mon, Columbia, Take Eminent Domain Off the Table"

The Manhattan Institute’sCenter for Rethinking Development
Ideas that shape the city’s planning, housing, and development
Monthly Newsletter

C'mon, Columbia, Take Eminent Domain Off the Table
Julia Vitullo-Martin,
March 2007

Is there any serious doubt that Columbia University's strategy to expand northward into Manhattanville is basically good for New York? Columbia urgently needs space—and Manhattanville, formerly an industrial area, has plenty of space to accommodate Columbia's handsome Renzo Piano plan.

Land-locked as it is on its Morningside Heights campus, Columbia has long had almost no ability to build the new research facilities and laboratories that are essential to keeping it ranked among the world's great universities. Indeed, it now has less than 200 square feet per student—far less than its nearby competitors, Princeton, Penn, or Harvard.

As New York City's seventh largest private employer—and surely one of its most prestigious—Columbia's new campus would add another 6,900 premium jobs to the local economy. The 17 acres on which it hopes to build what it's calling an "academic center" between 125th and 133rd Streets and Broadway and Riverside Drive are largely underutilized relative to the rest of Manhattan—in part because the area is zoned industrial and has been waiting for decades for a new economic use.

Now the economic use is here, and those who care about the city's economy should be cheering.

The same advocates who routinely denounce employers (Wal-Mart, for example) for providing only poorly paid jobs without benefits should be out in force applauding Columbia's highly paid jobs with generous benefits and pensions. Yet local support for Columbia has been far from unanimous, and the advocates (including some Columbia graduates) are mainly on the other side. One of the world's finest research and teaching universities, Columbia may be more renowned abroad than loved here at home.

How can that be? Part of the problem is the somehow ever-fresh historical legacy of 1968, when Columbia's plan to build a gym in Morningside Park provoked fierce community opposition. And part is the class antagonism generated by an exclusive, elite university bordered by struggling neighborhoods.

EMINENT DOMAIN'S UGLY THREATBut part of the hostility is due to Columbia’s stubborn insistence on retaining eminent domain as an option to be exercised by the State of New York if Columbia cannot purchase privately all the land it believes it needs.

"We're not going to take it off the table," says Columbia's executive vice president Robert Kasdin. "We're going to preserve our right to argue to the state that it’s in the public interest that they do it."

Even the strongest Harlem supporters of the Manhattanville plan, like realtor Willie Kathryn Suggs, balk at eminent domain. "I don't want them invoking eminent domain for private use. It's not right," says Suggs. "The neighborhood will get safer streets and better restaurants. I want that to happen. But under the rules. If they want more property they should buy it fairly, like anyone else."

And the opponents are ferocious. Manhattanville's largest private property owner, Nick Sprayregen, President of Tuck-It-Away Self-Storage, says that Columbia wants four of his five buildings. (The fifth, which was landmarked last year, is being left alone.) "I won't move," says Sprayregen. "But Columbia wants it all—100% of everything. They have no desire for nuance, for compromise, for diversity."

Or as resident Luisa Henriquez says, "Columbia moving in is a bad thing because Columbia isn't willing to share." Henriquez lives on 132nd Street in a city-owned building (one of two in the expansion site) that is operating under the Department of Housing Preservation and Development's Tenant Interim Lease (TIL) apartment lease purchase program. TIL trains tenant associations to manage and maintain their building with the ultimate goal of permitting tenants to buy their apartments for $250—a remnant of the bad days of property abandonment in the 1970s and early 1980s. If Columbia pursues the city-owned buildings it will have to pay their market value purchase price as well as negotiate "an equitable resolution for the tenants that at least equals what they would receive through the TIL program," notes Neill Coleman, spokesperson for the housing agency. This will be a very expensive proposition.

ONE MAN'S BLIGHT...Columbia argues that Manhattanville is "blighted," a condition that automatically allows the state to exercise eminent domain. It insists that its goal is to ";transform what is now a largely isolated, underutilized streetscape of garage openings, empty ground floors, roll-down metal gates and chain-link fences on the blocks from West 125th to 133rd Streets into a cohesive, reanimated center for educational, commercial and community life."

Ester Fuchs, a Professor of International and Public Affairs and Political Science at Columbia, is right when she argues, "The health of the city historically has always been about neighborhood transformation. For neighborhoods to stay the same is a recipe for a stagnant city."

But healthy transformations in American cities have generally been more successfully accomplished by homeowners, restaurateurs, retailers, and small business owners acting individually rather than by huge institutions exercising the government’s power of eminent domain. Columbia desires a contiguous campus—but that may well produce a less interesting streetscape than what would derive from a mix of academic buildings and private businesses.

And there are many who argue that the neighborhood is already on its way back. They point to the artists' studios and lofts, the rehabilitated city-owned apartment buildings, the good restaurants, the successful manufacturing firms as proof that the neighborhood, far from blighted, is experiencing a natural renaissance. "I can co-exist with Columbia," says Sprayregen. "Why can't Columbia coexist with me? My father built this business, which I intend to hand onto my children. We worked hard for the neighborhood, and intend to be part of its success."

Sprayregen fully understands the irony of his situation. He operates a business in a neighborhood whose long, slow decline has been caused in part by the dead hand of industrial zoning—imposed by city government. Now that same municipally imposed decline may be pronounced "blight" by the state, triggering the loss of his property. "This is blight forced on the neighborhood by city regulations," he notes. "But despite its zoning, the neighborhood is far better off now than it’s ever been. Yet Columbia, ironically, is claiming it’s so terrible and so blighted."

The crucial blight assessment that the state will use to determine if eminent domain can be invoked is being conducted by AKRF, an environmental consulting firm that is also drawing up the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Columbia. This is unusual, and raises obvious questions about the independence of the blight assessment. The certification of the DEIS by the Department of City Planning will start the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) that will move Columbia’s proposal through a seven-month community review.

Neither Columbia nor City Planning is willing to estimate when the plan will enter ULURP beyond "spring." Once City Planning certifies that the application is complete and ready for public review, the plan will move to Community Board 9, which already has its own competing proposals for Manhattanville. CB 9 will have 60 days to hold hearings and adopt a recommendation to the City Planning Commission. The hearings are likely to be fierce, unruly, and informative. The plan will also be reviewed by the Manhattan Borough President, the City Planning Commission, and the City Council, which has the final say—unless the Mayor decides to veto a council action.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Parks Dept. Pays $1,100 To Plant a Single Sapling

From: Daniel Bowman Simon
Subject: Yesterday's NY Sun: Parks Dept. Pays $1,100 To Plant a Single Sapling
Date: Mon, March 29, 2007 11:21 AM


While it's no secret that it's mind-bogglingly expensive to plant a tree in NYC...yet another service that nature usually provides pro-bono...this article sheds some light on why it costs so much...and it even seems there's some hope to lower the price per tree. (It doesn't mention, however, costs associated with digging up are these costs limited to replacing dead trees or vacated treepits.)

Of course, if the planted trees are better optimized for stormwater capture, the city will save more and more via reduced wastewater treatment costs in the long term.
And if you're hungry for more info on the value of a tree, look no further:
Backstory: What is the value of a tree?

Daniel Bowman Simon, LEED® Accredited Professional
Green Roof Coordinator/Low Impact Development Analyst

Dept. Pays $1,100 To Plant a Single Sapling
BY JOSEPH GOLDSTEIN - Staff Reporter of the Sun
March 28, 2007

It costs $18 to plant a sapling in Israel. So why, on average, does it cost the parks department $1,100 to plant one in New York City?

The trees planted in Israel are a fraction of the size of the saplings planted by the parks department. Still a former parks commissioner says the city is paying more money than it should for each tree.

The high cost can be attributed in large part to an increase in labor costs, which date to a 2003 decision by the city comptroller, William Thompson, to raise the pay of tree planters more than threefold. Today, tree planters make about $55 an hour, up from the $15 hourly wage they were paid before the change. Prior to that decision, the price of planting a tree was about $700.

That seems like a lot," the current commissioner for the parks department in Westchester County, Mitchell Tutoni, said when told of the $1,100 price tag in the city.

The increase in labor costs has resulted in a sharp drop in the number of trees the parks department can afford to plant, a former parks commissioner, Henry Stern, said.

"There are enormous adverse consequences from this to the greening of the city of New York," he said.

During the first three fiscal years of this decade, the parks department planted between 10,000 and 13,000 saplings each year along city streets, according to the parks department. By contrast, during fiscal year 2006, the department planted 7,200 saplings.

In addition to rising wage costs, one contractor, Angelo DeBartoli, said a second change in the contracts contributes to the high price of planting a tree in New York City. A new rule requires contractors to replant trees that are felled by vandalism within two years of their planting, he said in a telephone interview. Mr. DeBartoli, the owner of Robert Bello Landscaping, said it was "insane" that contractors had to guarantee the trees against vandalism once the plantings were finished.

Still, Mr. DeBartoli said the sudden rise in cost was largely caused by the required wage increase for tree planters.

The decision to raise the wages came as the comptroller's office reclassified the job of planting trees to labor from gardening.

But that classification is in question today, as it was when it was made.

"We got lumped into the laborer category, but we're landscapers," Mr. DeBartoli said. "We don't come out with cranes and all kinds of fancy equipment. We come out and dig a hole and plant a tree and put stones around it."

The trees, which are about 8 feet tall, often weigh 400 pounds. While heavy labor is a part of the job, it is only a small part of it, he said.

Mr. DeBartoli, whose landscaping firm plants some 2,000 saplings annually for the city, said he and 10 other contractors have formed an association and intend to ask Mr. Thompson to change the wages they must pay their work crews.

A spokesman for the comptroller did not return repeated calls for comment.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

LDC Criticized at Public Forum - Attendees Accuse Development Corp. of Ignoring Their Concerns

Home > News
LDC Criticized at Public Forum
Attendees Accuse Development Corp. of Ignoring Their Concerns
By Anna Phillips
Issue date: 3/28/07 Section: News

Media Credit: Erin Durking

Of the 20 people who approached the microphone at the community forum of the West Harlem Local Development Corporation last night, few were forgiving in their criticisms of the board.

Composed of members representing different constituencies within the community, the LDC is the organization with which Columbia is negotiating a Community Benefits Agreement to accompany its proposed Manhattanville expansion. As negotiations have begun within the last several months, disapproval of the group and its negotiating tactics has mounted among some in the community. Residents, business owners, and activists have accused the LDC of lacking transparency, and they have denounced the group's decision not to mandate that Columbia renounce eminent domain as a precondition to negotiations.

Minutes before the LDC held its second community forum, members of the Coalition to Preserve Community gathered outside to protest the group. Of those protesters who held signs and shook tambourines, several were actually members of the LDC.

CPC member Tom Kappner blamed the group's perceived missteps on "politicians who engineered what amounted to a coup by forcing their way onto the board." Eight Harlem elected officials have representatives on the LDC.

Inside the forum, many stepped up to the microphones and filled three hours with accusations and criticism against Columbia and the LDC.

"We need to fight for principles, not crumbs," said Norman Siegel, attorney for the West Harlem Business Group, saying that if eminent domain remained on the table, the CBA would function as a buyout.

While attendees argued for more LDC meetings open to the public, Harlem resident Mario Mazzoni said, "I'm not concerned about getting more minutes to speak publicly if I'm not being heard."

Along with issues of being ignored, some audience members voiced concern about the demographic makeup of the LDC.

"I think Latinos are underrepresented on this committee," said Community Board 9 member Norma Ramos. Walter South, another CB9 member, expressed concern that few LDC members actually live in the Manhattanville.

Instead of answering questions or responding to the censure of the speakers, the members of the LDC sat behind a table in near silence.

After the forum, Susan Russell, LDC member and chief of staff to Councilman Robert Jackson, D-Washington Heights/West Harlem, defended the group. "These people are saying if the LDC doesn't take eminent domain off of the table, they refuse to negotiate with us on any other issue," she said. "We believe that it is not in the best interests of the community for that to be our starting negotiating position. There are 100,000 people in the community, and if 20 of those people stand up and say eminent domain is the most important issue, that doesn't necessarily make it so."

The forum also featured a series of updates during which LDC members informed those in attendance of the initiatives under consideration by each of its committees. While the LDC has only met to negotiate with Columbia three times, and at this point, nothing has been decided, members were able to discuss areas in which they would like Columbia to provide funding for programs, such as safe waste disposal, arts centers, and affordable housing.

John-Martin Green, the representative of arts and cultural organizations, spoke about integrating Columbia students into the Harlem arts scene, as well as creating and funding an arts school for middle and high school students. Following him, Julio Batista spoke about housing, Maritta Dunn addressed business and economic development, and Cecil Corbin-Mark, program director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice, spoke about the green initiatives and health standards the LDC is looking to incorporate into the benefits agreements.

Columbia Eviction Plans Stir Concern in Harlem

Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2007 05:30:46 -0400
From: "Tenant"
Subject: Jackson hack shows why LDC reps Pols, not People

March 28, 2007 Edition > Section: New York > Printer-Friendly Version

Columbia Eviction Plans Stir Concern in Harlem
By LEORA FALKSpecial to the SunMarch 28, 2007

Columbia University is prepared to serve the first eviction notice to a business in its proposed expansion zone in West Harlem, lawyers for the tenant and a spokeswoman for the university confirmed last night.

The tenant, Juan Javier German, speaking through a translator, addressed the second public meeting of the West Harlem Local Development Corporation, a group formed to represent community interests in negotiations with Columbia over the proposed expansion. He said he had received a letter stating that he would receive an eviction notice if he did not pay $117,000 for rent on his three leased spaces at 3251 Broadway.

Columbia owns the building and has said it would like to relocate the businesses housed there. Members of the Coalition to Preserve Community, a group dedicated to fighting Columbia's expansion, said they were concerned that this was the first step in a series of evictions.

The attorney who represents 3251 Broadway auto center, Phillip Van Buren, said some of the rent backlog was caused by miscommunications and from lost profits because of repairs that Columbia should have made. He asked the LDC to call for "a moratorium on business displacement."

The Columbia spokeswoman, La-Verna Fountain, said she did not know when the official notice would be served, but that it was expected. "He owes $117,000. It's a perfectly reasonable step," she said.

At the LDC's public meeting, representatives gave presentations on goals being sought in negotiations, ranging from the formation of small business retention programs to allowing community access to Columbia's academic facilities.

But during public feedback, most speakers focused on the LDC's decision to continue negotiations even though Columbia is considering the use of eminent domain to acquire property it does not own in the proposed expansion zone.

A civil rights attorney who represents a group of West Harlem tenants, Norman Siegel, told the LDC that "the best interest of this community is to be principled" against eminent domain.

But a member of the LDC, Susan Russell, said refusing to negotiate if eminent domain is still a possibility is counterproductive. She said the people who spoke out at the meeting are not representative of the community as a whole. Ms. Russell, who is chief of staff to City Council Member Robert Jackson, asked: "Where would it leave the community if we didn't negotiate?"

Within CB9, Latinos Underrepresented - Despite Outreach Efforts, Only Five Latinos Serve on Community Board

Home > News

Within CB9, Latinos Underrepresented
Despite Outreach Efforts, Only Five Latinos Serve on Community Board
By Melissa Repko
Issue date: 3/28/07 Section: News

For over a decade, Latino members of Community Board 9 have voiced concerns about the lack of strong Latino representation, saying that a large community of Spanish-speaking individuals in the district has been left relatively voiceless.

With the election of Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer a little over a year ago, many Latino CB9 members said they anticipated change since Stringer ran under a platform of community board reform. Yet on Monday, when this year's appointments were released, not a single new Latino member was chosen for the board.

Only one applicant to CB9 identified him or herself as Latino or Hispanic, said Eric Pugatch, director of communications for Stringer. He added that the office does not discuss the specific reasons why applicants are or are not selected.

Latino members of CB9 authored a letter to Stringer two weeks ago calling for him to appoint more Latino members. The letter was especially motivated by a situation in which Spanish-speaking residents in the district-who live in a building under the Tenant Interim Lease program, which allows residents to gradually purchase a city-owned building-could not communicate effectively with the city. Though residents had saved over $200,000 toward the purchase, the building was being taken out of the program, threatening the status of residents' homes. Michael Palma, a Latino CB9 member, and Jordi Reyes-Montblanc, current CB9 chair, prevented the building from being taken out of the program after serving as translators for the residents.

According to the 2000 census, more than 500,000 Latinos live and work in Manhattan Community District 9 and make up 43.2 percent of the district. But on the board, only five of the 50 members are Latino.

Stringer wrote a response to the letter pledging that he would help CB9 increase the pool of Latino applicants in years to come, and he cited efforts such as translating application packets into Spanish and working with Latino organizations.

Palma said that he has been working for better representation of Latinos along with Reyes-Montblanc since 1992. More Latino members on the board would mean more people available to translate the concerns of Spanish speakers in the district and to better represent the population on issues of immigration.

Palma attributes the low number of Latino board members to a number of factors, including that Latinos in the district-which stretches from 110th to 155th streets-tend to be transient, do not always speak English well, if at all, and are not always aware of what the community board does.

In efforts to encourage Latino involvement, the community board conducted a special informational meeting on Oct. 31 in Spanish. The room was filled with representatives from the New York Fire Department, the Sanitation Department, and other governmental agencies, but only about 10 community members attended. Members of the Community Board and Reyes-Montblanc attributed the low turn-out to Halloween, and Reyes-Montblanc said that he hopes to hold meetings in Spanish once a month or at least every six weeks.

There is no staff member employed by the Community Board who can answer calls in Spanish and otherwise consult with Spanish-speaking residents. Reyes-Montblanc said that there haven't been openings for a staff position during his tenure as chair. He proposed that CB9 create a panel of Spanish-speaking members to hear the concerns of Spanish-speaking constituents.

But in proposing these ideas, Reyes-Montblanc, who is a native Spanish-speaker, also expressed ambivalence about accommodating Spanish-speakers. He said poor representation is not wholly due to the language barrier. "The language of this country is English. The language of New York is English," he said. "Most Hispanics and Latinos are bilingual."

In the past, CB9 had trouble representing the black community in the district, according to long-time Community Board member Maritta Dunn. "The district is changing," she said. "We are beginning to have a major influx of Africans and Asians into the area. In years to come, you are going to see another need to change the demographics of the board."

She said the board has been doing outreach to the Latino community for years and that it has always proved unsuccessful.

"You cannot make a person serve if they do not want to," Dunn said. "It is not the board or the borough president. It's not that the board did not recognize the need. It is that the Hispanic community did not respond to the outreach."

Norma Ramos, a member of the Latino Caucus who has been on the board for the last year, disagreed that Latinos are disinterested and called the sentiment expressed by Dunn "a self-defeating statement."

"It sounds like the excuse white employers would give when they do not want to hire people of color," Ramos said. "That's a very sweeping statement to say about a very diverse community of Latinos. ... I have not seen the kind of effort, the political will, that it requires to let this community know what this board is, what it does, and to get Latinos involved in this decision-making body."

CU Moves to Evict M'ville Auto Shop - First Expansion Zone Eviction Due to Rent Nonpayment

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CU Moves to Evict M'ville Auto Shop
First Expansion Zone Eviction Due to Rent Nonpayment
By Anna Phillips
Issue date: 3/28/07 Section: News

Columbia plans to evict a Manhattanville autobody shop from a University-owned building, officials confirmed last night.

The eviction, which would be the first of a tenant in the University's proposed expansion zone, is due to non-payment of rent.

According to Philip van Buren, the lawyer for three auto mechanic shops at 3251 Broadway, Columbia informed him on March 23 that it would soon be serving the 3251 Broadway Auto Center, owned by Juan Javier German, with an eviction notice. Once German receives the notice, he will have 30 days to appeal.

Columbia spokeswoman La-Verna Fountain said that German owes Columbia $117,000 in rent arrears, a sum that van Buren and German are contesting. According to van Buren, German actually owes Columbia $39,000, an amount he arrived at by subtracting rent he believes Columbia inflated, rent German has paid but not been credited for, money lost to a flood that destroyed office property, and an estimated $5,500 in moving costs.

The other two auto mechanic shops van Buren represents have both signed relocation leases with Columbia, providing that one business move to a location on 131st Street and the other remain in the basement of 3251 Broadway. Only the 3251 Broadway Auto Center, the largest of the auto mechanic shops, has repeatedly refused to sign a lease for the space Columbia has offered it at 635 West 125th Street. According to Fountain, the upper floors of the building have to be vacated because the elevator has to be taken out of service for safety reasons. She said that Columbia offered German space on the lower floor of the auto center if he could make arrangements to pay his back rent.

"Where they [the other two auto mechanic shops] have signed leases, they have done so under duress," van Buren said, stating that Columbia had not allowed enough time for negotiations and only offered one year leases, "They're a captive audience, they don't have any choice here." He said that Herman did not want to move to the space on 125th Street because it is in the first phase of Columbia's expansion plan, and he would have to vacate it to make way for University development. But he said that German was reconsidering and might sign a one-year lease for the space on 125th Street rather than be evicted.

At a press conference before last night's Local Development Corporation community forum, German stated his case with the aid of a Spanish translator.

"I've got around 20 people working for me and I'm worried they're going to be on the street," German said. "I'm not against Columbia ... I want to negotiate with them, if they allow me to."Unfortunately for German, Columbia has reached the end of its patience for negotiations.

"The bottom line is that we've been working with them and working with them and it hasn't worked out, and they're $117,000 behind in rent," Fountain said. "Our preference would be to work with them and relocate them and he didn't want that."

German and van Buren say that because of scaffolding erected by Columbia for repairs to the building, German's business has lost 80 percent of weekly its revenue and cannot afford to pay its rent. According to van Buren, German has repeatedly asked Columbia to make repairs and the University has not done so, edging the building toward dereliction. He said that while Columbia initially promised that the scaffolding would be removed after three months, it has now been up for fourteen months. "There's been no evidence of actual repair activity," van Buren said.

"The scaffolding stays up for safety reasons and it's going to stay up," Fountain countered.
Because of the University's alleged failure to make repairs, German feels that he should not have to pay complete rent arrears. Van Buren has appealed to the LDC to compel Columbia to continue negotiations and halt the eviction.

"I know Columbia is going to be sensitive to the political impact of this," van Buren said.

Fountain disagreed. "When a tenant owes you $117,000, eviction is a perfectly reasonable next step," she said. "He doesn't want to work with us and he doesn't want to pay his rent ... How many landlords are going to let you just stay for free?"Erin Durkin contributed to this article.

New CB9 Members Appointed - Board Chair Expresses Disappointment With Ethnic Breakdown

New CB9 Members Appointed
Board Chair Expresses Disappointment With Ethnic Breakdown
By Melissa Repko
Issue date: 3/28/07 Section: News

Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer released the names of new members appointed to the island's community boards on Monday.

The appointees included eight new members for Community Board 9, the jurisdiction of which stretches from 110th to 155th streets. The new CB9 members are Debra Byrd, Anthony Fletcher, William Simpkins, Brenda Faust, Don'Angelo Bivens, Eileen Merritt, Carole Singleton, and Charles Loveday.

Each year, half of each community board's membership is chosen. The appointments take effect on April 1. According to a press release from Stringer's office, there were 571 total applicants for positions on the boards, 308 of which were new applicants. There were 101 new appointees selected.

"I am proud to report that the second year of our newly instituted recruitment and appointment process has again resulted in an outstanding group of appointees," Stringer said in the press release. "The quality and total number of this year's pool of applicants was exceptional."

But CB9 chair Jordi Reyes-Montblanc expressed dissatisfaction that no Latinos were among the new CB9 appointees. "I am not surprised. ... I'm just disappointed," he said. "The Latino Hispanic community represents almost 50 percent of the district, and the numbers have not."Eric Pugatch, director of communications for Stringer, said that there was only one Latino applicant for CB9, despite efforts to increase the Latino applicant pool.

"We attempt to make appointments that reflect not only the ethnic diversity of the community but bring much needed skills and expertise to the board," Stringer said in a letter to the CB9 Latino Caucus.

Reyes-Monblanc said that while there are no Latino appointees this year, he believes Stringer will support efforts to increase Latino membership. "I expect to see him do great things for Manhattan and to work with us to do great things in the future," he said.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


From: "My News"
To: m07smith
Sent: Mon, 26 Mar 2007 14:52:59 -0400 (EDT)

March 26, 2007

Pursuant to Section 42 of the Internal Revenue Code and under the authority of the New York State Executive Order 135, the City of New York, through its Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), hereby announces a public hearing on the City’s 2007 Qualified Allocation Plan (“the Plan”) for allocating federal low income housing tax credits to eligible rental housing projects located in the City of New York.

HPD’s 2007 Plan contains revisions regarding administrative procedures, project financing and development costs, competitive criteria, project underwriting and compliance monitoring. Copies of the Plan will be available from HPD after March 23rd, 2007. A copy can be obtained in person during normal business hours from 9 AM to 5 PM at HPD, 100 Gold Street, Room 9-U8 or on the HPD website at

A public hearing has been scheduled by HPD to obtain comments on the Plan. If you wish to testify at the hearing, you may do so by appearing at the date and time listed below:
Wednesday, April 4th, 2007 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. 100 Gold Street, Room 1-R

All speakers are encouraged to provide a written copy of their testimony. In addition, persons not speaking at the hearing may submit written comments on or before April, 3rd, 2007 to: HPD, Tax Credit and Compliance Unit, 100 Gold Street, Room 9-U8, New York, NY 10038.
Individuals requesting sign language interpreters should contact the Mayor's Office of Contracts, Public Hearings Unit, 253 Broadway, Room 915, New York, New York 10007, (212) 788-7490, no later than seven (7) business days prior to the public hearing. TDD users should call Verizon relay services.

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Borough President Scott Stringer Announces 2007 Community Board Appointments

Borough President Scott Stringer Announces 2007

Community Board Appointments

Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer recently
made public the names of the 2007 appointees to Manhattan’s 12
Community Boards completing his second year of a revamped
recruitment and appointment process that has resulted in
greater community empowerment throughout the borough.

For complete details and a list of appointees please click here

Borough President Scott Stringer Announces 2007
Community Board Appointments

Second Year of Stringer’s Revamped Recruitment and Appointment Process Results in More than 300 New Applicants, No Unfilled Vacancies
33% of Appointees are New Community Board Members

(March 26, 2007) New York, NY - Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer today made public the names of the 2007 appointees to Manhattan’s 12 Community Boards completing his second year of a revamped recruitment and appointment process that has resulted in greater community empowerment throughout the borough. The appointments were again guided by Stringer’s newly implemented set of reforms aimed at depoliticizing the appointment process and making the boards more reflective of the constituencies they serve.

Stringer released the following data pertaining to the 2007 appointment and recruitment process:

Total number of applications: 571
Total number of new applicants: 308
Total number of interviews conducted by the MBPO: 483
Percentage of applicants that received interviews: 85
Total number of new appointees: 101
Total number of re-appointees: 263
Percentage of appointees that are new board members: 33%

In announcing the appointments Borough President Stringer said, “I am proud to report that the second year of our newly instituted recruitment and appointment process has again resulted in an outstanding group of appointees. The quality and total number of this year’s pool of applicants was exceptional. We are witnessing a level of interest and excitement in this unique form of local government that has never before been seen in Manhattan. The result of this excitement is bearing fruit in community based victories across this borough.”

Under the City Charter, the Borough President is charged with appointing all 600 members of Manhattan’s 12 Community Boards; half upon the recommendation of City Council Members. Each year half of the current board membership must apply for reappointment and go through Stringer’s new screening process.

In 2006, Borough President Stringer created an independent screening panel – the Community Board Reform Committee – whose job was to overhaul the appointment process, end ad hoc removals and ultimately review and recommend Community Board applicants to the Borough President. Since their inception, the panel has worked to design a new, more thorough application for potential board members in order to gain a better understanding of applicants to balance the boards with a variety of backgrounds and interests.

Borough President Stringer’s Community Board Reform Committee is comprised of leaders from good government and community groups including: The New York League of Conservation Voters, the Partnership for NYC, the League of Women Voters, the Municipal Art Society, NYPIRG, the Brennan Center for Justice, Citizens Union, the Women’s City Club of New York, the Hispanic Federation, West Harlem Environmental Action, the Regional Planning Association, the NAACP, LGBT Community Center, and the Urban League.

Over the last year Borough President Stringer’s office has taken on an aggressive outreach program that included more than 50 power-point presentations to community groups, religious institutions, businesses and other important groups in the hopes of interesting a cross section of Manhattanites to join their Community Boards. Borough President Stringer credited that outreach effort with the high number of new applicants.

“This process would not have been able to continue growing and succeeding without the work and commitment of Manhattan’s City Council delegation,” Borough President Stringer said. “They have all been active partners in this process and I commend them for their commitment to strengthening this vital form of government.”

Click here for a list of the 2007 Appointees to Manhattan’s 12 Community Boards.

# # #

Community Board Reform

There are twelve Community Boards in the borough of Manhattan—fifty-nine across all of New York City—charged with representing community interests on crucial issues of development and planning, land use, zoning and service delivery. Members of these boards are pivotal designers of their communities, and work to both enhance and preserve the character of the city’s many unique neighborhoods. Each board is equipped with 50 members, a budget, a district manager and staff to be the independent and representative voice of its community.

The Community Board system is also one of the Borough President’s most significant areas of responsibility. All Community Board appointments are made by the Borough President—half of them unilaterally, and half upon recommendation by City Council members. When these boards assess the needs of their communities, the Borough President, in turn, voices those needs to the City and State at large. The power of these boards has, in the past, been underestimated. With the mindset of reform, however, Manhattan’s Community Boards can bring about a new understanding of government by the people and for the people.
At their best, Community Boards are the empowered forces of their neighborhoods, and at his best, the Borough President is their steadfast collaborator. To access this potential, responsibility lies with the Borough President himself to communicate and mobilize a vision of Manhattan’s Community Boards. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer is already taking steps towards reforming and empowering Community Boards, steps that will benefit all New Yorkers.

For more information about Community Board Reform, please consult the following:

Community Board Training Institute

The Manhattan Borough President's Community Board Training Institute has held several sessions to inform board members about essential matters like the City Budget process, Land Use procedures, Ethics and Conflicts of Interest, and Parliamentary Procedure. Training guides are accessible below:

Community Boards

How many Community Boards are there?

There are 59 Community Boards throughout the city, with 12 in the borough of Manhattan.

What do Community Boards do?

The City Charter provides Community Boards with specific powers and responsibilities in several areas:

Long-term community planning. Section 197-A of the City Charter authorizes Community Boards to prepare long-term plans for community development. Once the City Planning Commission approves a 197-A plan, it serves as the policy guide for any development or zoning actions taken by the city.

Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). Community Boards must be consulted on land use issues, which include the development of municipal facilities, residential buildings, parks and waterfront development. All applications for a change in zoning must first come for review before the Board, which makes a recommendation to the Borough President, who, in turn, makes a recommendation to the City Planning Commission.

Applications for liquor licenses and sidewalk cafes. Bars and restaurants are required to come before Community Boards for advisory rulings on liquor license applications, which are then taken into account for a final determination by the State Liquor Authority. Similarly, applications for sidewalk cafes are presented to Community Boards, which make recommendations on approval to the Department of Consumer Affairs.

Street fairs and street closings. Community Boards make a non-binding recommendation on applications for street fairs and street closings to the Mayor’s Community Assistance Unit.
Community needs in the city budget. The Charter tasks the Community Boards with assessing neighborhood needs, meeting with city agencies and making budget requests to address these local issues. Each Board prepares an annual “District Needs” statement, based on the requests and recommendations of individual Board members and committees.

How many members are on each board?

The twelve Boards in Manhattan consist of up to 50 members—600 borough-wide. All members must have a residential, business, proffesional or other significant interest the community.

How does one become a member?

All Community Board appointments are made by the Borough President—half unilaterally and half on the recommendation of members of the City Council. Borough President Stringer and his staff have revamped the Community Board application and are accepting post-marked applications (required of new applicants and re-appointees alike) until January 31, 2007. Borough President Stringer and his staff have also assembled an independent Community Board Reform Committee that will screen applications, conduct interviews and recommend appointees to the Borough President. By April 1, 2007, the Borough President will announce his appointments for vacant seats on the borough’s Community Boards.

How often do boards meet?

Boards meet once each month. At these meetings, members address items of concern to the community. Board meetings are open to the public, and a portion of each meeting is reserved for the Board to hear from members of the public. Boards regularly conduct public hearings on the City's budget, on land use matters, and other major issues.

How do I find my Community Board?

The official web sites of the various community boards are independent entities, not affiliated with the Manhattan Borough President’s Office or, the Official NYC Web site.


Community Board Reform

My greatest power to leverage change in Manhattan comes from the borough itself: most specifically from the twelve Community Boards that represent it. Community Boards are the most local unit of government. Last year, the city spent more than $2.6 million on the operations of Manhattan’s Community Boards. Community Boards are the conscience and voice of our neighborhoods.

The full potential of Community Boards has not yet been realized. Notwithstanding their achievements, these boards have been historically undermined by inefficiencies and a lack of accountability and diversity. A recent examination of Manhattan Community Board operations found that:

The Community Board appointment process is overly politicized and unsystematic;

Community Board funds are distributed inequitably and without review;

Boards operate with ongoing vacancies;

Undisclosed lobbying is commonplace;

Conflicts of interest laws have not been enforced, but rather ignored;
Boards operate without any external requirement of assessment and evaluation.
Why does this matter?

This matters because this is our city, and because in suboptimal conditions we achieve suboptimal results. Efficient and accountable Community Boards would empower Manhattan’s neighborhoods in unprecedented ways, and allow them to cultivate the futures they seek.

My office is taking the initiative to reform and empower Manhattan’s Community Boards. This task is not required of the Borough President, yet it is the bold responsibility my staff and I have assumed in our desire to make Manhattan a place of promise for all its residents.

Some of these reforms are immediate; others will require long-term planning and oversight. Ultimately, however, these reforms will restore each Board to its rightful place on the frontlines of community planning and advocacy. Here are the steps towards reform we are taking:

Revamping Recruitment Efforts to Encourage Community Board Member Applications

To ensure that Board members embody the diversity and expertise necessary to fight for all local residents’ needs, we are strengthening the recruitment and application process. Specialized community liaisons from my office are meeting with a range of groups and community-based organizations throughout the borough to raise awareness of our revitalized Community Boards.
We are handing out applications to everyone interested in becoming a board member.

Establishing an Independent Screening Panel for Board Appointment and Ending ad hoc Removals

My staff and I have formed a Community Board Reform Committee that will function as an independent screening panel for all board applicants. This Committee is comprised of Community-Based Organizations, and is establishing a standard set of criteria by which board applicants will be assessed. Furthermore, just as members are now systematically appointed, they will no longer be removed on an ad hoc basis. In my administration, Community Board Members will be appointed and serve according to merit.
The Community-Based Organizations represented on my screening panel are: The New York League of Conservation Voters, Partnership for NYC, the League of Women Voters, the Municipal Art Society, NYPIRG, the Brennan Center for Justice, Citizen’s Union, the Women’s City Club of NY, the NAACP, the Hispanic Federation, West Harlem Environmental Action, Regional Plan Association, The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Community Center and the Urban League.

Developing a More Thorough Application Process to Become a Community Board Member

This year, my staff and I hope to have at least 3 applications for every 1 open spot. The process is now more thorough than ever before. We’ve drafted a new application that provides us comprehensive information on applicant backgrounds. This new application will provide the Community Board Reform Committee the means to assemble the most representative and diverse board memberships possible. Each applicant, including those seeking re-appointment, must submit an application to my office, postmarked no later than January 31, 2007.

Incorporating Feedback from the Borough President’s Community Board Questionnaires

Neighborhoods know best. That’s why, immediately following my election, I solicited questionnaires from all of the Community Board Members, District Managers and Chairs to get their feedback on how Community Boards should be reformed. The results gave us key insights into the priorities, satisfactions and dissatisfactions of Manhattan’s Community Boards. We will soon be posting the questionnaire analysis on this website.

Assigning Urban Planners to Support Each Community Board

Given that much of the work conducted by Community Boards revolves around issues of Land Use and planning, we have set in motion a provision of resources to each Community Board with urban planning expertise. My office is establishing an “Urban Fellowship” program with New York City universities so that graduate students in metropolitan studies and urban planning programs can assist the professional, in-house urban planners and gain valuable hands-on experience. Ultimately, every board should have a paid professional urban planner on staff that can support the design of 197-A plans and analysis of land use proposals for long-term community development. This assistance will yield a development plan representative of the community’s needs that can be submitted for approval by the City Planning Commission and the City Council. I am beginning discussions with the Mayor and City Council to secure additional funding to support such full-time planning assistance.

Introducing Legislation to Make Conflicts of Interest Laws Enforceable

Without records of financial interest, the Conflicts of Interest Board (COIB) is forced to rely on the honor system, greatly compromising their ability to regulate potentially harmful conflicts of interest on Community Boards. Our office is working to draft legislation on the state level to allow the COIB to accept a shortened financial disclosure form, which Community Board Chairs can fill out to make the conflicts of interest law enforceable. In the interim, we have updated the Community Board application to include questions regarding conflicts of interest. And as a further measure to promote transparency, members of the public may request to review these applications according to the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL).

Setting Board Budgets to Reflect Their Constituencies

New York City allocates over $12 million dollars a year to the entirety of Community Board budgets. While one Community Board will vary from another in the size and needs of the members of its district, money has not, in the past, been distributed proportionately. Every Community Board has the right, and the mandate, to optimize its effectiveness. For this reason, I am drafting proposals and consulting with the Office of the Mayor, the City Council and my fellow Borough Presidents to provide funding correspondent to the population served by each Community Board.

Providing Ongoing Training and Support for Community Board Members and their Staffs

Following the appointment of Community Board Members, my office will serve as a resource and a guide for the operations of every board. We will work with each Community Board according to its specific needs, and collaborate with them to develop ongoing training services for board staff members on issues including budgeting, land use procedures, conflicts of interest and ethics.

Strengthening Accountability of Community Board Operations

By coordinating with each Community Board office, we will set minimum district requirements as it relates to service delivery and require annual reports addressing board finances, operations and progress. This devoted attention to Manhattan’s Community Boards is unprecedented. And the mobilization, communication and empowerment that will result will be the means by which the promise of New York will be delivered.