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CB 13 can’t take stance on swastika mailing

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City lawyers advised Community Board 13 that taking a stand one way or another on the controversial hate crime mailing from state Assemblyman David Weprin’s (D-Little Neck) campaign earlier this year would be “inappropri­ate.”

The flier, which highlighted candidate Bob Friedrich’s position on hate crimes, caused a firestorm in northeast Queens because the back of the mailing had a picture of a swastika and police officers behind crime scene tape.

Friedrich urged CB 13 to condemn the flier, but CB 13 Chairman Bryan Block said he first wanted to determine whether the board was even allowed to express its views on the subject. During CB 13’s monthly meeting Monday, Block read a letter written to him April 26 from Steven Goulden, a senior lawyer with the city Corporation Counsel.

“This office shares the view, previously communicated to your board by the office of the Queens borough president, that taking an official position, by resolution or otherwise, on events in a partisan political campaign is inappropriate and exceeds the authority vested in a community board by the New York City Charter,” Goulden wrote.

Queens Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik said it was “quite clear” the board could not take a stand on the flier and that the borough president’s office “believes that [politics] have no place before a community board.”

Friedrich said he did not agree with the Corporation Counsel’s opinion.

“Whether it was on a campaign flier or not, the use of that swastika is what we’re trying to condemn,” he said. “I never questioned the right of putting out garbage like that. We’re just saying we have the same First Amendment rights to condemn such use.”

The board also heard a proposal from the Public School Athletic League’s cricket commissioner to create a cricket field in Alley Pond Park.

Peter Richards, chairman of CB 13’s Parks, Environment and Cultural Affairs Committee, said the cost of the field would be absorbed by the cricket league and that the league would maintain it.

Basset Thompson, the PSAL’s commissioner for cricket, said the field would be more convenient for high school cricket teams at Martin Van Buren HS, Thomas Edison HS and the Queens High School of Teaching, who currently have to play games at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

“This would be the closest place they could play cricket,” he said.

Richards said the field is proposed to be located at the eastern end of Alley Pond Park between baseball Fields 2 and 3.

CB 13 member Corey Bearak said he was concerned about whether the cricket field would interfere with baseball activities in the park, but Thompson said it would have no impact.

“I will assure you that there will be no interferen­ce,” Thompson said.

The field needs to earn the approval of the city Parks Department before the project can be built.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 5:57 pm, October 10, 2011
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