Paper Ballot, New Blood: CB4 Elects Leadership

Outgoing CB4 Chair Christine Berthet (standing), and incoming Chair Delores Rubin (seated). Photo by Winnie McCroy.

Outgoing CB4 Chair Christine Berthet (standing), and incoming Chair Delores Rubin (seated). Photo by Winnie McCroy.

BY WINNIE McCROY | A rainy night did not deter residents from gathering at the Fulton Center Auditorium (119 Ninth Ave. at W. 17th St.) for the Dec. 2 full board meeting of Community Board 4 (CB4). 

With many agenda items tabled, withdrawn or sent back to committee, the business portion of the meeting was quickly dispatched. The evening ended with a paper ballot election for new leadership for CB4. The only contested position was First Vice Chair, with Burt Lazarin and Ernest Moderelli vying for the win. Both men gave a short speech about their motivation for running, with Lazarin noting that he’s built upon what he’s learned in 10 years with CB4, saying, “I like listening to the community, expanding on the skills I’ve developed as a negotiator in private business, as a group facilitator and city planner, a flâneur, someone who watches what happens in the city, and uses that info. I think I will enjoy it.”

Moderelli said he was spurred to community activism by growing up in West New York, where “most people were not engaged, participated or concerned. Growing up in this area inspired in me a sense of civil engagement. I moved to the gleaming city, and after six years here, as a member of CB4 I’ve seen the district undergo a lot of changes and challenges. Confronting them requires the participation of people like ourselves.”

Ambur Nicosia lead the voting, which returned the following slate: Delores Rubin as new Chair; Lazarin as First Vice Chair; Lowell Kern as Second Vice Chair; and Lily Fan and Michael Noble, both as Secretaries.

As Chair Christine Berthet steps down, there will be a commemoration of her work at January’s meeting. But that did not stop elected officials from showering her with praise.

“I was Chair of CB4 before Christine, and although I’ve spent a little less than two years in office, I still hear from Berthet all hours of the day, because she is a relentless advocate for these neighborhoods,” said City Councilmember Corey Johnson. “Over the 10 years she’s served on the Community Board, she has really shown her mettle. I’m going to miss working with her on a day-to-day basis, because she’s someone who wants to see results.”

“Berthet is one of the most committed public servants I’ve ever known,” echoed NY State Senator Brad Hoylman, to which NY State Assesmblymember Richard Gottfried added, “Christine goes to more meetings than anyone should have to. In an awesome group, Christine is one of the best. The fact that the Board and community have had the benefit of her for so long is something we should be enormously grateful for.”

City Councilmember Corey Johnson called outgoing CB4 Chair Christine Berthet “a relentless advocate” and “someone who wants to see results.” Photo by Winnie McCroy.

City Councilmember Corey Johnson called outgoing CB4 Chair Christine Berthet “a relentless advocate” and “someone who wants to see results.” Photo by Winnie McCroy.

“This is way too much,” whispered Berthet, barely audible, but smiling nonetheless.

As the meeting came to a close, incoming Chair Rubin vowed to follow in Berthet’s footsteps, saying, “I know that I haven’t been on the Community Board for very long, but I have been a lifelong resident of 55th Street, and I will continue to work hard for the benefit of my neighborhood.”

In an email statement sent to Chelsea Now on Dec. 7, Rubin noted that although the leadership has changed, “Christine Berthet and many other former Chairs of MCB4 [Manhattan Community Board 4] are still very active, which will make this transition seamless. MCB4 is made up of committed volunteers that represent our community well. I am happy to continue that legacy with their help.”

REPORTS FROM ELECTED OFFICIALS

Councilmember Johnson tipped his hat to his Chief of Staff, Erik Bottcher, for his hard work in getting the City to turn the Empire State Building red in honor of World AIDS Day. “We are very proud that the City announced an additional $30 million to end the epidemic in the state with PrEP and meds, enhanced hours of STD clinics and rental assistance,” said Johnson. “Governor Cuomo also dedicated an additional $200 million, because we know how to end HIV/AIDS. It’s a matter of resources and leadership.”

Johnson invited the community to a Town Hall meeting on January 13 at the LGBT Community Center on W. 13th St., starting with a resources fair at 5:30 p.m. They will offer free flu shots via Duane Reade, and the FDNY will distribute free smoke detectors.

Assemblymember Gottfried spoke about his struggle for campaign finance reform. He has been working for years to eliminate the LLC loophole that allows companies to make limitless contributions, saying, “Campaign finance is by far the most corrosive force in public policy. I also believe it is time for New York to move to a full-time legislature with no outside employment…There will still be opportunities for people to be corrupted, but at least that one major one will be cut off.”

Senator Hoylman echoed this, saying, “I feel more resolved than ever to clean up this mess in Albany.” He supported legislation that prevented “moonlighting for either body,” so that legislators have no conflict of interest. “Second, we are raising criminality for self-serving dealing among public officials, and third, I co-sponsored legislation with NY State Senator Daniel Squadron to close this LLC loophole. One holding company can have innumerable LLCs, and each can contribute the maximum amount of $11,000, subverting the laws.”

After the tragic domestic violence-related murder of Deisy Garcia — whose husband killed her and their two daughters just days after she filed an untranslated violence report — Hoylman secured legislation requiring translation of these reports within a practicable period. He also supported a bill allowing nurses to test those entering the US for tuberculosis.

Assemblymember Richard Gottfried spoke in support of campaign finance reform. Photo by Winnie McCroy.

Assemblymember Richard Gottfried spoke in support of campaign finance reform. Photo by Winnie McCroy.

Andrew Lombardi, representing Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, noted that she told Clinton Towers their planned 20 percent rent increase was too steep, suggesting the management pick up the payment by renting out commercial space. They also gave an update on the Construction Safety Working Group led by their office, working with unions, the real estate board, industry leaders, CB Chairs and the DA’s office to come up with “mutually agreed-upon ways to reform construction safety in the city to keep workers and residents safe.”

Edgar Yu from DA Cy Vance’s office spoke of sentencing Jeffrey Wong to 25-years-to-life in state prison for the murder of Khemraj Singh in October 2014, citing that the “viciousness of the crime was staggering; he beat, slashed and strangled the victim with enough force to crush the bones in the victim’s throat, even after the victim had been fatally stabbed.”

The next CB4 meeting will be held on Wed., Jan 6, 2016, at Mount Sinai West (1000 10th Ave. btw. W. 58th & W. 59th Sts.). Visit nyc.gov/mcb4.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *