By Daniel Krieger
“Reality tv has nothing on us,” joked Andrew Rigie, interim chair, in his opening remarks at the October full Community Board 7 meeting Monday night. His observation turned out to be an accurate lead-in to what came next.
The main event of the meeting was the election of new board officers, but things got off track quickly when Board Member Madelyn Innocent used her allotted time and more to launch an attack on Sheldon Fine, a nominee for chair of the board. Innocent accused Fine of “bullying,” “manipulating,” and “threatening” her during their interactions on a CB7 housing task force several years ago. She urged other board members to oppose Fine’s election, calling him “toxic” and accusing him of financial and other improprieties.
When Joshua Cohen, chairman of the election committee, attempted to silence her, she refused. “No, no, no, I will not take a breath,” she said. “I’ve been dormant for eight-and-a-half years!”
Fine, shaking his head and looking uncomfortable, sat silently through Innocent’s attack, which lasted for over four minutes. Most other members sat stone-faced. After the failed effort to cut her off, Innocent concluded on her own. During the voting later in the meeting — a secret ballot — Fine was defeated by Beverly Donohue to become the new chair of CB7.
When WSR contacted Fine by email about Innocent’s charges, he rejected them as “character assassination” and said “The Chair should have asked her to stop. If her ranting did not stop, he could have muted her.”
Chair-Elect Donohue later said, “Madelyn’s remarks were regrettable and I understand she has apologized. However, it is important to note that this incident lasted five minutes in a four-hour meeting during which a great many positive things were accomplished for the community.”
Here is the complete roster of officers elected last night:
Board Chair: Beverly Donohue
Vice Chair: Doug Kleiman
Co-Secretary: Barbara Adler
Co-Secretary: Linda Alexander
Treasurer: Seema Reddy
Other items discussed by the board:
* Gale Brewer congratulated the winners and ran through some items on the City Council agenda, including coming legislation dealing with the Upper West Side’s rat infestation (she commented that composting reduces the problem and may be mandated), as well as the need for federal legislation to regulate helicopter flight over the Upper West Side, which residents have complained about for years.
* Roberta Semer, chair of the strategy and budget committee, also mentioned the rat crisis in the Capital Budget Priorities for FY 2024. Among a long list of items, which included dealing with food insecurity among children and providing broadband for NYCHA, she mentioned that to reduce the rat population they are asking the Department of Sanitation to provide more garbage-can service in the evenings in high-traffic areas; to restore daily street cleaning; to provide all schools with sealed garbage cans; and to improve garbage management in NYCHA. The resolution passed.
* Another resolution that passed unanimously came from the Transportation Committee, which requested that the MTA consider how to make the 1, 2, 3 subway platforms at 72nd Street and 96th Street safer. Board Member Andrew Albert said that the platforms get very crowded and people don’t feel safe because they are narrow. The resolution asked the MTA to consider placing railings or handrails in “periodic places” to make people feel more secure that they won’t fall or get pushed onto the tracks, though Albert added that it’s up to the MTA to determine how best to ensure greater safety.
You can watch the full CB7 meeting here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOyVDhMtFUc