You may soon learn a great deal more about community board members than ever before. Thats because of a new City Council bill seeking to amend the citys administrative code, requiring disclosure of board members financial interests. The local law, Intro. No. 765, was introduced in December by Manhattan Councilmember Gale Brewer. The proposed law would hold community board membersa voluntary, unpaid position selected by City Council members or the borough presidentup to the same disclosure standards as elected officials. Im against it, said Jerry OShea, the president of Community Board 15. Members are selected and pretty much investigated by board itself for conflicts of interest. I dont think it would serve any purpose. OShea has faith in community boards to police themselves. Theres no way to make any money as a board member. Its a volunteer position. I doubt very much that anybody would jeopardize their position, for one vote out of 50. Its crazy. The citys 59 community boards serve as a conduit between the public, and city agencies and elected officials. Boards review the citys budget, land use and zoning matters and myriad other items affecting residents daily life. As one of the few paid members working for the board, Community Board 11 District Manager Howard Feuer files disclosure forms annually. But he doesnt think henor board membersshould be forced to do so. I dont see myself in a public policy-making position because the board I work for doesnt make policy, Feuer said. The role of community boards is advisory and I dont think advisory personnel should have to file, Feuer added. We have no decision-making powers. I make no final decisions about anything, Feuer said. Central Brooklyn City Councilmember Letitia James signed on to sponsor the bill, which arose from a report entitled Elevating Citizen Government: A Blueprint to Reform and Empower Manhattans Community Boards, sponsored by former Assemblymember Scott Stringer, now Manhattans borough president. I believe in openness and transparency first, James said. She said the law could reveal potentially harmful conflicts of interest. James said the law would compel members to disclose exiting liabilities, interests in real property, personal property and other means of employment. A sister bill, which James also supports, seeks to modify the scope of the financial disclosure form, which is at present, she said, voluminous. With either item, James said she doesnt expect much controversy. So far, at Community Board 6, the reaction has been less than supportive. The boards Finance/Personnel/Law Committee this week recommended to oppose both the intro and the companion resolution, fearing they would be a tremendous disincentive to serve on community boards, according to Craig Hammerman, the boards district manager. Had they decided to somehow give community boards real power, then at some point it may make sense to raise an item like this for discussion, Hammerman said. The committee decided to rename these bills as the Community Board Destruction Act, he said.
©2006 Community News Group
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.