Saturday, August 12, 2006

"Carrion's 'politricks' outrage residents" Highbridge Horizon June 2006

Carrion's 'politricks' outrage residents

BP acts against stadium opponents
By Joe Lamport
Managing Editor

Community residents staged a silent protest outside of a special meeting of Community Board 4 June 27, but there was a lot of noise inside after Borough President Adolfo Carrion removed members of the board who had voted against the plan to build a new Yankee Stadium.

Community Board 4 voted overwhelmingly against the plan to build a new stadium for the Yankees in November and at the June 27 meeting, Carrion got his revenge, board members said. And residents were furious.

"Borough President Carrion's blatant removal of community board members is a disgrace, an embarrassment, un-American," said Beverly Beja, who has worked for years on community issues in the neighborhoods of Community Board 4. "The military is in Iraq to help that country establish a democracy. Maybe the National Guard should be activated to serve in the Bronx."

Beja singled out Aurea Mangual, the borough president's representative to the community board. At the June 6 meeting of the board, Mangual had asked for Beja's name after Beja had expressed her anger at news Carrion would not reappoint certain board members because they had voted against the stadium plan.

"I am an American," she said in response at the meeting, "born to immigrant parents who toiled to give me a better life in a free society."

Beja's comments brought thunderous applause from the packed auditorium at Bronx Lebanon Hospital. Many other residents echoed her remarks and some called for an investigation of the process used to decide the membership of the board.

"We've got a new word in our vocabulary up here - 'politricks,'" said Maria Simmons of Highbridge, another active community resident. Simmons and other residents have collected "several hundred" signatures on petitions expressing outrage at Carrion's decisions on the board's membership. She asked a representative of the mayor's Community Assistance Unit to investigate the appointment process.

The representative was non-committal and, paradoxically, told Simmons to express her concerns first to the borough president's office.

Carrion named nine new members to the community board and they all voted 'Yes' on the slate of members nominated to serve as the board's executive members. D. Lee Ezell was named the new chair of the board and her fervent support of the plan for a new Yankee Stadium was the reason, residents said at the meeting.

Board members said they felt Carrion had violated ethical rules in how he named people to the board.

"What happened here truly is illegal," said Mariano Laboy, who was removed as treasurer of the board.

Although Laboy was not reappointed as treasurer, his term is not up. But he said he was certain he would not be reappointed after he spoke at the meeting.

"I know with what I will say tonight, I'll be gone," Laboy said. "This community cannot keep silent anymore. Because (Ezell) said 'Yes' to Yankee Stadium she's been promoted and the others who said 'No' have been demoted."

Politicians helped the Yankees "steal our parks because they thought they would get some money in return," said Anthony Curry, a local resident. "They have gotten to the point where they think they don't need us anymore."

Louise Williams, one of the board's members who Carrion chose not to reappoint, said she was "appalled" at the borough president's action. "I've worked for 30-some odd years for this community," Williams said. "We voted unanimously against the stadium plan because we had surveyed and analyzed the plan carefully. (The Yankees) want to take people's lives."

Residents said their anger would not end with their loud comments at the community board meeting. Several vowed that Carrion would pay for his vengeance on Election Day.

"I voted Adolfo Carrion in and I will vote him out," Williams said.

"What's happening to our board is a travesty," said Michael Trotter, another community resident active on local issues. "I hope you new members will remain independent thinkers. For their vote, (former members) had to take a political hit.

Carrion and other local politicians "can change chairs and political positions, but you can't change the will of this community," Trotter added.

Board Member Mary Blassingame summed up the feelings of many at the meeting.

"It was a sad day for community input," she said, having been forced from her position as chair of the housing and land use committee. "And it's going to come back to haunt Carrion."


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