F.R. Weed and Seed Mum On Finalists For Site Coordinator Job
By Miriam Rosenberg
After being without a site coordinator since the end of April, Far Rockaway's Weed and Seed is preparing to vote on a successor to the position at the monthly Steering Committee meeting on August 16.
Despite attempts to obtain information about the finalists, a veil of secrecy has seemed to fall over the selection of a site coordinator.
According to Ed Williams, the site's Steering Committee chair and a member of the job search committee, the members on the committee "do not believe it is newsworthy" to make the names public.
He added, "[Everyone] is very adamant that that information should not be given out before the final candidate is selected. They believe the 16th is good enough to share the information."
Williams also said, "One candidate doesn't want his name out in the paper."
The Wave has learned that the committee narrowed the field to three after interviewing applicants on July 17. Among those who applied was Mary Craine-Bachner, who was the site coordinator when the NYPD was the lead agency.
Although she couldn't release the names of the finalists, Cythnea Greene of the PAL (the new lead agency for the local Weed and Seed), via instant message last week, said Craine-Bachner was the "star applicant of course, so very qualified for the position. There were seven candidates, honed down to three best."
Greene said letters were to be mailed to the three finalists, but Craine-Bachner has not received any correspondence from the committee leading her to believe she is not a finalist for the position. Her attempts to get an answer on her status (except to be told by Williams that the sticking point had something to do with salary) have gone unanswered.
When asked if it would be a big disappointment for the community if Craine-Bachner weren't hired Greene said, "Would it? I guess so. The other candidates, all from the community, were good as well, just not as knowledgeable about Weed & Seed."
While the committee will not discuss specifics on the remaining candidates, and Williams would not go on record about the proceedings and what followed, Craine-Bachner was willing to speak about the interview.
She told The Wave she laid out plans to revitalize the Rockaway Weed and Seed, and she made various contacts who, although they told her they no longer believed in the program due to its recent past, would be "on board" if she was hired.
She said she asked for, what she believed, was the going rate for a site coordinator in this area - $55,000.
In answer to Williams' questioning at the interview for an example of someone in the area making that sum, she told the committee the coordinator for the Mott Haven site in the Bronx was receiving $57,000 a year. Rich Guevara, the site coordinator at Mott Haven, confirmed this to The Wave this week.
"I did my homework," said Craine-Bachner. "I had no idea what people were making."
She added, "They won't even pay what they paid 10 years ago," referring to when RDRC was the lead agency and the site coordinator got $50,000.
In its second advertisement for the position, the committee added a salary of "up to $30,000 depending on experience".
That amount was originally put in the last budget by Craine-Bachner, she said, as a way to save the community money. The salaries for the then part-time site coordinator was supplemented by regular job salaries - for Craine-Bachner from the NYPD and for Mike Daly (the last coordinator) who worked for the lead agency - the Queens Library. The site coordinator is now considered a full-time position.
The Wave has discovered there is $25,000 in the budget for a site consultant and other monies from programs no longer in existence to cover a salary similar to that of the Mott Haven coordinator.
"I [wasn't] taking from anybody's program," she said.
Although she wishes well to whoever takes the position, she explained she wasn't upset about not getting the position, just the way it has been handled.
"It's the people of Rockaway who are being hurt," she said.
The search committee is made up of Alexi Mantsios and Richard Capobianco of the US Attorney's office (which runs the program), Frederica Jefferies from the Queens DA's office, Isaac Parsee of the Commission of Human Rights, Lizzie Brown, Williams and Greene. Williams, Parsee and Brown are members of the Rockaway community.
The final decision will be made by the full Steering Committee at an open meeting on August 16 at the Full Gospel Tabernacle on Beach 42 Street and Beach Channel Drive at 1 p.m.
Weed and Seed is a strategy that brings law enforcement and local residents together to reduce crime and improve the quality of life in communities across the country.
Some of those aided by the Rockaway program are the 101 Precinct's explorer program for young people, the Far Rockaway and Arverne Libraries, and the PAL.