2014-06-20 / Columnists

Eye On Rockaway

CB 14 Errs In Voting Down Summer Meetings
By Miriam Rosenberg

Community Board 14 recently voted down a motion by one of its members, Brian Heffernan, to continue meeting during the summer instead of taking two months off. As Heffernan pointed out to the board, when he made his motion, Rockaway is still going through a lot. And he is right.

It is no secret that Rockaway is still reeling from Superstorm Sandy. People are still trying to rebuild their lives and their homes. The boardwalk plans keep changing with the wind. and businesses are still trying to come back from the disaster.

Yet, it was ‘’See You In September’ as the board wrapped up its last regular meeting on June 10.

The people who really count, community members, had no say in the June 10 vote of 19-11, with two abstentions. And in the end, you can’t help believing the result was wrong. Just because people take breaks during the summer doesn’t mean problems and concerns do. And neither does city government, as they continue to make rebuilding plans for the area.

What was even more curious was how dead-set some of the members were against the idea.

Steve Cooper said, “Only in an emergency” should they meet during the summer. Some distinguished their votes as “a definite no,” “an emphatic no” or “adamantly no.”

Felicia Johnson, who is running to unseat Assemblywoman Michele Titus in the upcoming primary, voted no.

Of course, the vote may have been different if the members of the board who left just as the public speaking part had begun, had stayed to the end when the motion was made, or if those who abstained voted yes.

There is a precedent here in Rockaway for summer meetings. The 101st Precinct Community Council, several years ago, put the question to residents who attend each month if meetings should continue in the summer. Crime does not take July and August off, and residents who live in the precinct decided they wanted to keep in touch with what is happening all year, not just 10 months of it.

“Crime does not take a vacation,’ Denean Ferguson, the vice president of the 101st Precinct Community Council told this columnist on June 12. She added they work on several projects during the summer, such as Rockaway Resource Day and National Night Out Against Crime, about which the residents need to be kept informed.

Whether there is 15 or 50 people who show, they still hold the meetings during the summer months. That was also part of Heffernan’s motion, that if members couldn’t be at the meeting they would not be held accountable. Yet it was still voted down.

While CB 14 chair Delores Orr said she had been to meetings in the summer, internal meetings among board members and public ones are quite different. With all that Rockaway continues to go through there should be a forum for residents to hear what is happening on the peninsula during the summer months and where they are allowed to make comments, put forward opinions, and get answers to concerns.

Thank you, Mr. Heffernan for putting the motion on the table. Too bad a majority of your fellow board members didn’t agree with you.

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