Crown Heights

Community board’s search for top bureaucrat takes another dramatic turn

May 29, 2019 Lore Croghan
At left are Eve-lyn Williams and Stuart Balberg, two of the Executive Committee members who staged a walkout at Monday night’s Community Board 9 meeting. Chairperson Patricia Baker is at far right. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

A Community Board 9 meeting erupted into shouting and a walkout Monday night, the latest drama in a process that has seen two district managers ousted amid scandal in three years — all as part of the search to fill the spot of top neighborhood bureaucrat.

Three board members staged a walkout at the meeting, when four candidates were about to be presented to membership for discussion. The act of civil disobedience meant that, by the board’s rules, not enough members were present to proceed. The meeting abruptly ended.

“I’m very disappointed,” Search Committee Chairperson Rashidah Siddiqui told the Brooklyn Eagle. “We’ve been working since March to get to this point.”

This committee is the fourth one created to find a new district manager for the community board that serves South Crown Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Wingate and parts of North Flatbush.

The board has effectively been without a district manager since October 2015, when Pearl Miles, who served for three decades, was ousted for allegedly altering board votes and other improprieties.

The board then hired Carmen Martinez for the job, but community activist Alicia Boyd filed suit challenging the appointment for not following the board’s own hiring rules. In 2017, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Wayne Saitta ruled that CB9’s process of selecting Martinez voided the selection entirely.

District managers run the offices of a community board, providing constituent services and carrying out the wishes of the board, such as sending letters of support or notifying agencies of local input on projects.

The four final candidates for the top administrative job are Rose DeStefano, Charles Jackson, Andrew Kunkes and Michelle McClymont, according to Siddiqui.

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But upon their announcement, executive committee member Eve-lyn Williams launched into a criticism of the search process. She said a job candidate had been questioned in an unfair manner during an interview by the committee.

In response, a woman in the auditorium at Medgar Evers College, where the meeting was held, called out to Williams, “You are here to be an obstructionist.”

Several people began shouting.

Then Williams and two other Executive Committee members, Vivia Morgan and Stuart Balberg, marched off the stage at the front of the auditorium.

CB9 Chairperson Patricia Baker shut down the meeting, though Williams and Balberg came back into the room a few minutes later.

It’s up to the Executive Committee to decide what happens next, Siddiqui said.

According to a City of New York job vacancy notice, the annual salary for CB9 District Manager is between $75,000 and $90,000 per year.

Between April 15 and May 6, the Search Committee received resumes from 48 candidates for the job, the minutes of its May 6 meeting indicate.

Before ending the meeting, Baker apologized to Prospect-Lefferts Gardens Historic District homeowner Susan Fox because the board hadn’t had a chance to vote on renovation plans for Fox’s house at 231 Fenimore St.

She needed CB9 to pass judgment on the plans before architect Kirk Mitchell presents them to the city Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Follow reporter Lore Croghan on Twitter.

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