If, as a community leader, I seem supportive of Community Board 7, I am. From its inception under Chairwoman Mary McVay and District Manager Wilhelmina Jimney through the chairmanship of Myra Herce and District Manager Regina Colletta, the chairmanship of Lynda Spielman and District Manager Marilyn Bitterman and Chairman Eugene Kelty, CB 7 has been a godsend for us. These volunteers who serve on the board without pay — all of whom work for a living — and their underpaid and under-staffed staff do yeoman’s service on our behalf.
When I read letters to the editor from disgruntled community leaders criticizing the board and its individual officers not only for its decision, which is understandable, but also for actions beyond the board’s control, I cringe. I believe as strongly in the importance of community associations as in community boards, so I feel ashamed when one bites the hand that feeds it.
I think it is every community leader’s obligation to learn how government works, especially that part of government which is our entry into government: the community board.
In response to the Feb. 3-9 letter “CB 7 has much to answer for in its approval of Willets Point project,” I cannot talk to the issue presented. I can only say what I know about community boards:
1. Should they be blamed for being “targets” of a lobbying campaign?
2. If “Apelian prohibited discussion by CB 7 members of the option to disapprove — rather than approve,” he may have been doing a chairman’s job to cut off discussion, which was irrelevant at that time.
3. The determination of the agenda takes into consideration the concerns of the entire community. Non-controversial matters come first to leave the bulk of the time for disputed items.
4. I know about the “room of inadequate size without air conditioning.” Community boards are given inadequate funding to have their own meeting and hearing rooms and must take what they can get. The rehab center, which provides space, needed the usual large room. No other was available there or elsewhere. The board members and staff sweltered, too.
5. Far from “exemplifying” its contempt for the public which it exists to serve” by cutting speaking time from the expected three minutes to one minute, the opposite is true. To give everyone who has signed up the opportunity to speak is the only way it can be done. Even then, in their case, the public hearing went on till 12:45 a.m., at which time, having heard everyone, the board was required to vote. It was giving you an informed decision: It had nothing to gain by it and its members also had to go to their places of employment later that day.
Democracy is the most demanding form of government. It requires everyone’s informed participation to work well. It might be wise before complaining to look in the mirror.
Marjorie D. Ferrigno
©2011 Community News Group
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