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Malba Gardens civic cries foul over survey review

With regards to Chuck Apelian’s comments that Feinstein Iron Works take out a full-page ad in two local newspapers apologizing to him and Community Board 7 for his honest comments (“CB 7, Feinstein make amends after Willets clashes,” Jan. 20), it is amazing he would have the audacity to make such demands. After all, he is a public official in his roles as vice chairman of CB 7 and the CB 7 land use chairman.

Our organization has had the misfortune of dealing with CB 7 with regards to a public safety matter, which it quickly turned into an inconvenient matter. Marilyn Bitterman, district manager of CB 7, was responsible for writing a survey that was to be sent out to our community regarding the dangerous situation. The manner in which she wrote the survey was biased and stressed the “inconvenience” of driving an extra two blocks.

We immediately sent out a letter requesting to have more time to review the survey in order to come to a more non-biased wording and, objecting to the wording as shown to Alfredo Centola, we received no response and the survey went out anyway. We then requested to see the surveys under the Freedom of Information law; they illegally refused us. We obtained a decision from Robert Freeman from the state Committee on Open Government; they still refused.

A couple of months later, we received an e-mail from an MTABT official quoting Bitterman and her ill feelings to the president of our civic association. This e-mail quotes Bitterman as saying “she would step over his prone body and refuse to call for help.” Our organization immediately sent Apelian a letter calling on him to act, as the CB 7 vice chairman, to address Bitterman’s unprofessional and biased comments. He replied, “It will be reviewed,” but then never responded.

Several months ago, some members of our organization received a call from a man claiming to be on the board in regards to conducting an investigation. CB 7 investigating itself? To date we have heard nothing about the results, if any, to the investigation. City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) has refused to get involved, saying he is not responsible for oversight of CB 7, but we only asked he inquire about the outcome of the investigation as our elected official.

We do not know what Apelian is looking for. If he has such a thin skin, maybe he should exclude himself from the vice chairmanship. For the most part, he has a much calmer and respectful tone than his counterpart Eugene Kelty. But to ask for an apology and take out a full-page ad in two local papers? Maybe CB 7 should take out ads in two or three papers to apologize for violating the FOIA law, refusing to acknowledge the Committee on Open Government’s decision and especially for Bitterman’s comments to an MTABT official showing her disregard for Centola’s life.

After all, what is right for CB 7 should be right for the community it represents.

Alfredo Centola

Dan Barton

Laurie Occhipinti

Malba Gardens Civic Association

Malba Gardens

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