Friday, December 08, 2006

"Agony of defeat" Metro 12/8/6

Agony of defeat
Year after Yankee vote, CB4 can't function

by patrick arden / metro new york

DEC 8, 2006
SOUTH BRONX. When Community Board 4 voted down the plans for a new Yankee Stadium by a two-to-one margin in 2005, that didn‚t stop the project from moving forward. But Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion refused to reappoint members whose terms were expiring, and he orchestrated a major reshuffling of the board last June.

Out of the 19 members whose terms were up, only five remained. Carrion made a slew of new appointments, and four of the board‚s six committees ended up with new chairs.

Since then, however, Community Board 4 has had a hard time conducting any business. Apart from a brief period during a meeting in September, the board hasn‚t been able to get enough members together to even hold a vote.

"We have meeting minutes from as far back as June that still haven't been approved," said member Lukas Herbert. "Our budget priorities were supposed to be submitted to the mayor's office months ago, and there‚s a middle-income housing project that can't proceed without our letter of support.

"The borough president has done his best to drive a wedge into this board to make it not function," Herbert said. "This new board won't stand in the way when he gets some ambitious crackpot idea to force down our throats."

Carrion spokesman Mike Murphy said the board‚s inability to form a quorum stem from member illnesses and family matters.

Some insiders speculate the new members — many of them ministers — have been turned off by the rancor of the board's discussions. "The old people still show up," said one member, "and the new chairman, D. Lee Ezell, is very aggressive toward them. She gives a 30-minute speech at the beginning of every committee meeting, and then she won‚t tolerate other people's opinions."

Calls to Ezell and the district manager, David Mojica, were not returned yesterday. After a particularly contentious meeting in September, Ezell proposed beginning with a prayer, asking for "brotherly love, professionalism and respect." Objections were raised that the prayers excluded some members. It didn't help that these prayers would also be led by Carrion allies.

Anita Antonetty resigned as recording secretary in October, after Ezell wanted to delete verbatim comments from meeting minutes. "People were still bringing up the issue of how the borough president removed members from the board," Antonetty said.

"It's not a good atmosphere. That's why some people stay away. There are people who haven't returned since they voted to change the board in June. The people who were kicked off attended regularly. They would have made the quorum."

Were residents misled?

Viewers of Channel 12 in the Bronx yesterday saw Borough President Adolfo Carrion storm out of an interview after a reporter asked whether the Parks Dept. had misled him about an interim running track promised to residents during construction of the new Yankee Stadium.

"I've always expressed my frustration with the pace of construction for the interim park space," Carrion said later in a statement. "However, I do not believe senseless name calling or grandstanding is a constructive way to resolve these issues."

But the point was whether officials had misled residents. Community Board 4 member Lukas Herbert believes the city even misled a judge. While the Law Dept. denies that claim, the interim track had figured prominently in Judge Herman Cahn‚s decision to reject residents‚ request for a temporary injunction to stop the construction of the stadium on 22 acres of parkland.

"This track was supposed to be put in before August," Herbert said. "What they told the judge was that there's going to be a running track available before they ripped up the one in Macombs Dam Park. They didn't do that."


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