CB5 In Revolt Against Boro Pres Mark Levine, Fires Off Letter Urging: Rescind Craig Slutzkin’s Ouster

The election for chair of CB5 was thrown into chaos when Borough President Mark Levine ousted Craig Slutzkin, who was seen as the favorite in the race for the board’s top post against interim chair Samir Lavingia. Now 33 of the 50 members on the board have fired off a letter urging Levine to rescind the ouster.

| 08 May 2024 | 07:27

A majority of Community Board five’s members demanded that Mark Levine, the Borough President, reverse his decision to oust one of the board’s longest serving members, just as that member, the first vice chairman, was running to unseat a housing lobbyist who is serving as interim chair.

“We are deeply upset and concerned to learn that you have decided not to reappoint our trusted colleague, Craig L. Slutzkin,” said the letter to Levine, signed by 33 of the board’s 50 members.

“Like you, Craig is informed by over a decade of experience in public service, and he is driven by a deep care for our community and its people. Failing to re-appoint such a respected, reliable, and experienced person as him to our Community Board is unprecedented and outrageous.”

Slutzkin learned of his ouster just as the community board’s nominating committee was about to tap him as their choice to challenge the interim chair, Samir Lavingia, who has been criticized by many board members because his day job is as a paid staffer for Open New York, registered in Albany to lobby for more housing development.

Levine has also refused to reappoint a second long serving member, Mary Brosnahan, a well-known advocate for the homeless, who was running for first vice chair of the board on a ticket with Slutzkin.

Levine has declined to say why he refused to reappoint Slutzkin and Brosnahan and the Board has asked him to attend their monthly meeting May 9 to explain.

But Levine has told colleagues that he was upset by Slutzkin’s vote on a separate school advisory council that challenged the City Education Department’s policy of allowing transgender girls to compete in female athletic events.

Slutzkin, a gay solo parent of a son in a local public school, was one of eight members of the District 2 advisory council to support the resolution, which called for a discussion of the policy. Three members voted no.

The school’s chancellor rejected the resolution amid an outcry from transgender activists and local elected officials, who branded it “transphobic.”

Brosnahan, however, had no connection to that controversy and condemned Levine for ousting Slutzkin, saying the Borough President’s real purpose was strengthening the hand of housing developers, by protecting Lavingia as chair, and reaping their campaign contributions.

“The office of the Manhattan Borough President does not issue public statements regarding individual appoints due to the myriad of factors that contribute to these decisions,” a spokesman said. “However, we take a holistic approach and consider everything during this process.”

With Slutzkin off the board, Lavingia is, at the moment, the only candidate for board chair. He has said he can separate his role as a housing lobbyist from his duties as board chair. https://www.chelseanewsny.com/news/cb5-chairman-vote-heads-toward-contested-election-in-june-MA3323790

He did not sign the letter to Levine asking him to reverse his ouster of Slutzkin

The nominating committee, which had been on the verge of designating Slutzkin as their favored candidate, has officially remained silent since his ouster while they await Levine’s reaction to the letter.

In the meantime, Sal Albanese, the former City Council member and candidate for mayor, criticized Levine for ousting Brosnahan, whose progressive advocacy for the homeless is hardly an obvious match for Albanese’s Bay Ridge conservatism.

“@MarkLevineNYC not reappointing @MaryBrosnahan to her Community Board position is just plain stupid & petty,” he wrote on X, the former twitter. “Mary is a well known New Yorker & one of the leading thinkers on addressing homelessness [and] is a major asset to any CB. Levine should reconsider.”

Her first book is due out in September.

Brosnahan was notified of her ouster from the board by text message, one hour after Straus News first reported that Slutzkin had not been reappointed. Brosnahan was quoted in that article criticizing Levine.


Hours later, Slutzkin and Brosnahan showed up at the Executive Board meeting of CB 5 Tuesday night but were informed their removal had already taken effect and that they could not participate as officers or board members.

“It’s having its desired effect of chilling free speech,” said one official involved in the board controversy.

Add another board member, “The rug was pulled out from under, not just Craig, but the entire board.” The member added, “There is no fairer person than Craig. He was always a ‘let’s all sit down and have the hard conversations. Maybe there are some points we can all agree on’. Now people are calling him a bigot. It’s awful.”

Community Board members are volunteers and serve at the pleasure of the Borough President, without pay. Slutzkin was first appointed to the board by then-Borough President Scott Stringer.

“He [Craig Slutzkin]was always a ‘let’s all sit down and have the hard conversations. Maybe there are some points we can all agree on’. Now people are calling him a bigot. It’s awful.” A CB 5 Board Member