2005-01-14 / Community

Dereliction Of Duty At Community Board 14

By Brian Magoolaghan

  • The majority of Community Board 14 members are either underperforming or barely satisfying standards set by the borough president’s office – and two missed every meeting held last year, The Wave has learned.
  • While a core of dedicated members had blemish-free attendance records, CB14 members Muriel Donohue and Esther C. Marcano-Ortiz went 10 for 10 – missing all of the meetings held in 2004, according to attendance records obtained by The Wave. Jonathan Gaska, District Manager, said they were both missing in action. Neither returned calls from The Wave.

    Chairperson Delores Orr attributed the absences to members’ “personal issues or commitments” and perhaps underestimating the expectations of the position.

    Attendance records also show that a total of 10 out of 49 members fell well short of standards set by Borough President Helen Marshall’s office.

    “They want you to make ¾ of the meetings,” Gaska said. Reverend Robert Narducci, Chaim Schwartz and Frank Harnisher attended one meeting each; Henrietta Scott-Fullard went to two; Thomas Tobin attended three; Mia Allison and Rachel Williams went to 4; and Steve Cromity and Jose Velez were at 5.

    “If you can’t make 6 or 7 meetings then you probably need to reevaluate if you really want to be on the board,” said Gaska, who has one of the few paying positions connected with the board. He said he has missed only two meetings in 15 years.

    Nearly 50 percent of all members fell into the minimum participation range: Moshe Bain, Shalom Becker, Jeff Cohen, William Hanson, Mamie Keaton, Hazeron Mohammad, Ellen O’Reilly, Eric Shivnarain, Glenda Nesmith and Zandra Meyers each attended six; Viola Akers, William Hanson, Dan Mundy, Michael Tubridy, Elancio Williams, Brian Heffernan, Miguel Jimenez, Betty Leon, Barbara Morris, Eugene Pasternak and Liz Sulik were present for 7.

    “Generally, their contribution is equal to their attendance,” said Gaska, who added that, despite the spotty-at-best attendance, he could not remember a time when quorum (half plus one or more of the membership present) could not be established.

    What did they miss? Information and/or the chance to vote on the following: two “mental homes” proposed for Far Rockaway, millions in funding for communities affected by the airports, street namings, plans for the Rockaway Courthouse, the clean-up of the contaminated MGP site on Beach 108 Street and Beach Channel Drive – even a plan to coordinate volunteers to shovel snow for senior citizens.

    “If there’s something you miss, you can’t bring it back to your community,” said Gaska, who excused Scott-Fullard and Harnisher, who resigned for personal reasons and Tobin, who he said was suffering from an illness. Earning perfect attendance awards last year were Vincent Castellano, Herbert Gormley, Orr, John T. McCambridge and Aldean Moore. They make up about 10 percent of the board.

    Of the elected officials who represent Rockaway, City Councilman Joe Addabbo Jr. covers CB14 the closest. He was at four of the 2004 meetings in person and had representatives at the six others. By comparison, James Sanders Jr. was at one in person and sent various representatives to another seven.

    None of the other elected officials attended in person, but Senator Malcolm Smith and Assemblywoman Michelle Titus sent representatives to a hand full of meetings each. A rep from Marshall’s office attended each meeting.

    Lew Simon, Democratic District Leader, usually saves the date. He was at seven meetings altogether.

    CB14 meets at the Knights of Columbus, Beach 90 Street, every second Tuesday of the month, with the exception of July and August, 7:45 p.m. Board members hold two-year terms and are not paid for their participation.

    Attendance records are forwarded to the borough president’s office and are reviewed when board members seek reappointment.

    “It’s really her call,” Orr said of Marshall’s discretion with regard to reappointments.

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