Interested in joining a community board? Don’t ask Borough President Melinda Katz how members are chosen.
After a Community Board 5 member said he and a colleague were axed from the board for backing City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley’s (D-Middle Village) opponent in the 2013 election, Borough Hall said it does not publicly discuss how it collaborates with Council members to select up to 50 volunteers on the county’s community boards.
When asked about the appointment process, Katz’s spokesman Michael Scholl wrote in an e-mail, “It is our office’s policy not to comment on the process of how community board members are selected.”
Under the City Charter, borough presidents are charged with ensuring that all neighborhoods are adequately represented on community boards, which work to address residents’ complaints, compile community budget priorities and give feedback on land use and zoning issues. The charter requires borough presidents to select at least half of every boards’ members from those nominated by their Council members. Incidentally, Katz worked as director of community boards under former Borough President Claire Shulman.
Scholl did not return multiple requests for elaboration.
But other Queens lawmakers said the borough president’s office appoints half of boards’ members. The remainder of the seats are then divvied up among the Council members from that community district in proportion to what percentage of the area they represent, according to the offices of Council members Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) and Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills).
Michael Cohen, Koslowitz’s press representative, said the borough president has the authority to overrule Council members’ nominees, but typically defers to the legislators.
CB 5 District Manager Gary Giordano said he would leave it to Katz to explain the application process.
He said to the best of the board’s knowledge, four CB 5 members had not been reappointed and one new member had been selected — who appeared to live in the part of Ridgewood represented by Crowley.
Neither Crowley’s nor Reynoso’s staff seemed to be aware of the new CB 5 member.