Taking issue


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EAST SIDE OBSERVER

BY ARLENE KAYATT

Dustoff redux — The July 10, 2018, East Side Observer column, “Dustoffs, political and otherwise,” took exception to Community Board 8’s allowing a political candidate in a Congressional primary race to speak at a public meeting. Below are two unedited responses from readers — one a CB8 member, the other a former New Yorker and Our Town writer. My replies follow.

Arlene,

As we discussed, your column (...) suggested CB8’s chair erred in allowing a political candidate to speak at the public session.

In fact, our rules permit anyone to speak about any issue other than politics as community boards are non-partisan city agencies. Many candidates suddenly develop an interest in addressing some issue before an election. Their intent is obvious. If a Cardinal Rule was violated, it was done so by an audience member who, without being recognized by the chair, challenged the candidate. Such back-and-forth is not permitted in the public session or it would go on all night. Before the Chair could restore regular order, other members quickly called for its end as inappropriate.

Hope this helps clarify the event. Our chair is a skilled attorney and mediator/arbitrator, well trained in managing — and resolving — conflict.

Dave Rosenstein, Member CB8M, Co-Chair, Communications Committee

East Side Observer —

You remind me how politics are the same everywhere — from community to national to global, proceedings involve struggles with bylaws, pushy personalities usurping undue privilege, projects lingering so much overtime that they turn in to campaign issues. Our so-called resident’s forum will make you feel right at home and yield familiar copy to your ever watchful eye that catches “people in the act of being human” ... ain’t it all fun? Judy Joy Ross, former NYer, now Oregonian

Replies:

Rosenstein acknowledges that political candidates try to schedule themselves for community board meetings. And that CB rules permit anyone to speak about any issue other than politics — which is exactly what we’re arguing about. Politicians are relentless. They want to be heard wherever there are voters in the district where they are running. All members of the public who want to speak at the meeting must sign in and the lists vetted to avoid allowing political advocacy at the public CB meetings. Historically, there has been enforcement in not permitting it. Otherwise, political debate can and will get out of hand. Pre-emptive measure — not allowing it — is more orderly and preferred so there doesn’t have to be reliance on a chairperson’s expertise in arbitration, mediation, the law or otherwise. Many a political candidate has had to sit through a community board meeting staring down a chairperson who would not call on them to speak. As a part of local government, community boards do not permit political discourse at public meetings. Audience intervention should not only be unnecessary. It should be avoided. The cardinal rule of keeping political candidates off the stage at public meetings of the community board is time honored and should be vigorously avoided.

And while Judy Ross’s points are well-taken, she is not referring to public meetings of a governmental nature.

The look of Lex (Ave) — 86th Street has always been the hub of commercial activity. In the 1970s and ‘80s the East Mid-Manhattan Chamber of Commerce was active in fighting for the planning and zoning that has resulted in making the 86th Street corridor/neighborhood a hub of commercial and residential use and activity. It’s still a work in progress with the ups and downs and travails that come with it. And let’s not forget the inconvenience of accessing the subway. Much has been lost as far as the ethnic businesses, restaurants, housing, overall community. But I’d like to remember the Chamber pioneers of those years, including Hal Lashin, a president of Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, and the Friedland family, for their vision in making 86th Street viable in the 21st century.





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