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City Council Reso Calls for Community Board Term Limits and Transparency

Posted By Brad Aaron On April 25, 2014 @ 12:35 pm In Ben Kallos,City Council,Community Boards | 6 Comments

A resolution brewing in the City Council recommends major reform for community boards.

Ben Kallos. Photo: NYC Council [1]

Ben Kallos. Photo: NYC Council

Introduced by freshman City Council Member Ben Kallos [2], the reso [3] calls for board members to serve a maximum of five consecutive two-year terms, and for unspecified term limits for board and committee chairs. It also recommends a transparent appointment process and highly publicized, multi-pronged recruitment efforts.

This would mark a dramatic shift from current practices, where board members can be appointed for life and borough presidents often refuse to discuss how they are chosen [4].

Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side and served [5] on Manhattan Community Board 8, based the resolution on his policy report [6], “Improving Community Boards in New York City.” The report recommends a standardized application process that would require reappointment applications and put an end to “automatic reappointment.” Employees of elected officials and executive committee members of political parties would be excluded from board membership.

The resolution calls for an “independent screening panel” for all boroughs, modeled on an existing Manhattan panel put in place by Scott Stringer. Stringer’s successor Gale Brewer enlisted community groups [7] to screen some 600 applicants, including long-time board members, for her first round of appointments this year.

Though community board votes are technically advisory, DOT will generally not implement significant street redesigns without their endorsement. Community boards have a mixed record on street safety, and some board members appear to be reflexively resistant [8] to life-saving street designs, regardless of public support or DOT data [9]. An infusion of members whose priorities go beyond maintaining free on-street parking [10] would be a refreshing change for many boards across the boroughs. More broadly, these reforms would ideally result in boards that more accurately reflect evolving demographics.

Of course, some are content with the status quo. “Our office will not be supporting this resolution,” said a spokesperson for Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr [11]. “In fact, our office feels that this resolution is not necessary.”

“At this point, I’d like reform to be voluntary,” Kallos told the Queens Chronicle [12]. At this writing the resolution is sponsored by an array of council newcomers and heavy-hitters: Brad Lander, Jimmy Vacca, Mark Levine, Danny Dromm, Carlos Menchaca, Antonio Reynoso, Ydanis Rodriguez, Debi Rose, Ritchie Torres, and Peter Koo.

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URL to article: http://www.streetsblog.org/2014/04/25/city-council-reso-calls-for-community-board-term-limits-and-transparency/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/District05_Kallos.jpg

[2] Ben Kallos: http://www.streetsblog.org/2013/08/22/city-council-candidates-on-the-issues-ben-kallos-district-5/

[3] reso: http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=1709712&GUID=7CD0BA8D-AA18-44A2-9FAB-ED704EC15555&Options=ID|Text|&Search=kallos

[4] refuse to discuss how they are chosen: http://www.timesledger.com/stories/2014/15/cb5_tl_2014_04_11_q.html

[5] served: http://council.nyc.gov/d5/html/members/biography.shtml

[6] policy report: http://www.benkallos.com/sites/default/files/PolicyReport_CBs_2014_03_26_Post-Final-with-Exhibits.pdf

[7] enlisted community groups: http://www.streetsblog.org/2014/04/04/brewer-i-wont-remove-community-board-members-who-impede-safe-streets/

[8] reflexively resistant: http://www.streetsblog.org/2014/03/14/morningside-road-diet-supporters-try-to-find-common-ground-with-cb-10/

[9] DOT data: http://www.streetsblog.org/2013/01/09/ignoring-co-chairs-cb-7-committee-backs-columbus-avenue-bike-lane/

[10] maintaining free on-street parking: http://www.streetsblog.org/2014/04/11/brooklyn-parking-preservation-board-votes-down-bike-corrals/

[11] Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr: http://www.bxtimes.com/stories/2014/17/17-board-2014-04-24-bx_2014_17.html

[12] Queens Chronicle: http://www.qchron.com/editions/queenswide/shakeups-heading-for-community-boards/article_cb4893dd-687b-50b7-9808-9faa5f61c517.html

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