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
All of the Covid restrictions have been ended by NY State and City. This includes masking and social distancing as well as any other restriction. Why is CB 7 still not doing these meetings in public? Not many members of the community know about these zoom meeting, there is not publicity of them not even as is required by city regs and open meetings laws in the official daily “City record They should be in person
If a member of the community doesn’t know about the Zoom meetings, what makes you think they would know about an in-person meeting. If your goal is to increase people’s ability to attend these meetings, wouldn’t virtual meetings then be better than in-person meetings because people could then attend from the comfort of their own home rather than have to travel? Also, they are now recorded in this format, so more people can watch it after the fact, which could not be done in person. So I dont get your argument. Obviously you want in person meetings, but your reasoning actually supports virtual meetings.
Because the in-person meeting are much better “advertised”, as signs are posted about specific issues around the location/item to be discussed. Much more importantly, in-person allows for a much more informed debate. As someone’s comment/question may trigger a new thought. and/or way to do something, but in the Zoom world you have to be on the “list” to say your bit and that’s it. Since the zoom world began any real debate has stopped. In-person there is/was an exch of ideas rather that a zoom time limit on the meeting and speakers. At these zoom meetings our ected’s and self-appointed community leaders regularly go over time limit and members of the public get no rebuttal.
These meeting are supposed to be a discussion/debate on an issue not a rubber stamp
But the same would happen in an in-person meeting with a chair who holds to the rules for speaking time. Your argument still does not hold any water. 20 years ago I had a job where I was at the CB meeting (not CB7) fairly regularly and the chair kept to a rule that you could only speak if you signed up ahead of time and if you went over your time, you weren’t allowed to sign up to speak at future meetings. Meetings, in person, went about the same as you are complaining the Zoom meetings go. And as for notices – meeting notices were put up for in person meetings about specific items that related to the specific area in which the sign was placed, such as approval of alterations to landmarked buildings being announced on the block of the building in question. These days, for Zoom meetings, the notices are the same. That hasn’t changed at all. So really, what is your real reason for pushing in person meetings?
The outburst was shocking. There has to be more professional ways for appointed sitting Board members to air grievances and resolve problems than displays like this recorded for posterity on Youtube. I do hope Gale Brewer will be looking into this and conducting a full investigation. Members answer to her vs residents. Reality TV is correct. In Corporate America , claims like this would require a full investigation especially under NYS law!
The UWS is the community where playing dirty is normalized, from CPW bike lanes to the Lucerne homeless hotels.
I attended the meeting via zoom along with other community members. Another issue that was contentious arose over the fact the chair of the election committee would not let members of the public ask questions of the candidates. This was unfortunate since some of us listening in did have questions we would have liked to raise. It is also important to note that members of the Board are appointed by elected officials. They are not elected. Many members have been on the board for years. All the more reason for the public to be heard.
The Board also discussed the District Needs list last night. Through its budgeting process, the Board is setting important priorities for the UWS over the next year, and it is important for members of the community to have a say in this. I hope more people will attend these meetings and let their voices be heard. I also hope the Board will reconvene live, as it is much better to have these discussions in person.
the members of the board are term limited
I agree — these meetings are becoming more theater than ever. A group of people appointed by elected leaders who pass mostly symbolic votes and never talk to anyone in the community.
Why is it better to have the meetings in person? Doing them over zoom allows more people to participate, makes it more convenient for people with work or family obligations, preserves a full record of the proceedings, and prevents people from shouting down and heckling speakers who have a right to be heard. It’s not really clear to me what would be gained by forcing these meetings to take place in person again.
I prefer zoom unless they can increase the live venue room size. I’ve attended CB meetings in person and they were in a tiny room, am packed and chaotic. It was standing room only and difficult to see, hear, or be heard. Clearly many in the community are interested in the issues. The CB should accomodate this and provide a venue where all interested C of the CB can participate.
Great point Josh – but why not both? No reason not to have the meetings in person AND allow Zoom participation.
My experience with hybrid in person / Zoom meetings has been that the people there in person tend to dominate and the people participating via Zoom are not treated as equal participants. I don’t think it necessarily has to be that way and a good moderator could make sure that everyone is heard, but finding a good moderator is hard. Remote meetings have significant benefits and I’m struggling to think of any real reason to go back to the old meetings.
I think the assumption is that ppl behave differently in person than online. You make good points. Perhaps its a more a question of professionalism and the appropriate leadership? We’ve certainly had leadership problems in CB7 in the past where rogue attendees were able to act unprofessionally week after week. There should be mechanisms in place to deal with situations like this and the courage to take action when required.
Can they be any more embarrassing? How pathetic that these are the people who are running our neighborhood. And yes, we don’t want rats causing us problems but for God’s sake – how about being safe walking down a sidewalk without having to look over our shoulders? Once again – especially with Gale Brewer – they avoid discussing the important matters such as the unsafe conditions of the neighborhood. Remember a tourist being shot in the back by someone living in housing on 99th street? Did they forget about it already? You would not need safety rails at the 72nd St and the 96th Street subways if people voted for legislatures who care and SPEAK about the crime we are facing above and below ground.
Hi Frustrated UWS: Aren’t we all. My longtime neighbors have all moved to the eastside. So these are the Board members who permitted the UWS to deteriorate to a dirty dangerous depressing neighborhood. Who signed off on the can recycling machines in front of filthy Fairway? Our drugstores, once clean and stocked, are gone. Its s the neighborhood NOT DR. Why put money and employees here when they can work in a spotless DR on 57th/3rd or 72nd /York? They have allowed our streets to be a dumping ground for homeless dangerous half dressed men and rats and roaches and unmonitored carts of garbage. Take a walk to see it all …start @70th/B/way and keep walking uptown …pitiful. And we can’t even get to Grand Central-the M104 no longer goes across tiwn. That’s a whole other issue of CB7 powerlessness.
I’m shocked that the transportation board member does not prioritize dealing with all the motorized scooters and mini motorcycles in the bike lane or on the roads driving the wrong way though the neighborhood never follows any traffic laws.
It has become unbearable to cross the street.
SUBWAYS stations would not be so overcrowded if the trains came as often as they used to.
Anything remotely anti-Alt Transport wont ever get discussed as it offends the very vocal lobbyists who hold spots on the Board. Even when it affects resident safety issues.
Mopeds and all the motorized scooters are a horror on the streets . They feel like they rule the road and they do and nothing is done to regulate or control them. Does Gale Brewer care? Does Adams care?
They ride on the sidewalk too. So many near-misses bc I might move to the side just as they are very quickly moving to the spot where I just stepped into. I guess they aren’t afraid of pedestrians hitting them.
This does not surprise me, since I, too, was a victim of character assassination by members of this Board when I served on it. I tried to warn them that unethical (and possibly illegal) election practices were occurring during voting. Instead of looking into them, I was “assassinated” publicly, after which I resigned from the Board, wanting to have nothing more to do with it. Apparently, nothing has changed in over a decade.
Gale Brewer wants to MANDATE composting? She should worry about crime in the neighborhood and high property taxes, both of which make UWS residents want to leave.
You do realize that elected officials can be doing more than one thing at a time, right? Gale can be (and is) doing something about crime and high property taxes at the same time that she is doing something about composting. That’s called “serving the community” – the ENTIRE community, including those who consider composting important.
Why don’t people realize, after all this time, that Gale Brewer really doesn’t care about crime. Why do we keep electing her? Why? Because we’re fools.
That’s just silly. Of course she cares about crime. But what is she, as just one of 50 Council persons, supposed to do other than advocate for new legislation and better NYPD enforcement? She is not a cop, she does not run the NYPD, she has little to no control over crime. Stop with the B.S. and realize that elected officials cannot do anything by themselves and are often doing lots of things behind the scenes of which you may not be aware.
She does not care about crime and quality of life. This subject was discussed many times.
Who is running these? It’s a zoom meeting. Anyone exceeding their allotted speaking time could easily have their audio feed turned off.
Yikes! Two comments. The Chair of that meeting absolutely should have muted that woman. There’s no way someone should be allowed to attack another in any way, and it was the Chair’s responsibility to stop it. Second: “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…” To make people FEEL safer, not to make people
BE safer. *Shaking my head*
Wasnt there a recent article by WSR (same writer) about how feelings don’t really matter. Its about facts. So, why invest city dollars in rails that only serve to make ppl “feel” safer. Seems so contradictory. Which is it guys? Facts or feelings?
Well isn’t it a fact that we will be safer if there are rails there? There’s an ‘incident’ at that station 3-4 times a week. People might still get stabbed or punched but it’s less likely they’ll end up on the tracks if there are barriers.
Thanks, Daniel, for highlighting several topics recently addressed by Gale Brewer at the recent dramatic Community Board 7 . I’m all for composting to reduce rat infestations (having only recently made that connection along with preventing methane production in landfills). Though I’m doubtful my building will ever comply with mandatory bins, I currently do quite a bit of stealth compost disposal in the neighborhood and the last time I checked we still have the public compost bins at 89th Street between West End and Broadway.
I’m also very happy to hear the community board is hearing from Gale Brewer about the federal legislation we need to regulate helicopter traffic over the Upper West Side. Asking those tortured by helicopter flights to call 311 to report excessive noise and vibrations is such a cruel joke – it’s like counting birds in the trees. Please visit https://stopthechopnynj org for comprehensives updates, and demand that the current bill before congress (H.R.4880 Nadler, Maloney, and Velasquez).”Improving Helicopter Safety Act of 2019″ gets passed immediately. And no, Barry Diller, a corporate Blade flight to the Hamptons is NOT essential. Neither are multiple news choppers covering the same flat tire on the FDR.
Passing a bill in the House is useless unless you’ve got 60 votes in the Senate, and I don’t see thah happening this year. And if the GOP takes the House, forget it.
The GOP would correctly focus on more important things
What is anyone doing waiting at the edge of a subway platform? There’s plenty of room at both stations if you spread out to either end.
Plenty of room?! I had very bad experiences with my child in a stroller. There’s no room. Especially when you exit, you don’t know where you will end up. You could be we dodged between the train and the stairway.
72 Street is extremely narrow as it was built more than 100 years ago. There is no room there at all when a train opens its doors and lets people out.
Putting barriers and railing on the platform will make more room?
Perhaps rather than WFH days we should have staggered work hours so that subways and buses are less jammed during what have been peak times.
Not surprising. Some years ago the city put out the word that they wanted more engaged citizens to apply for the community board seats that are not outright appointments (citywide, not just here). After some time observing and participating in the process I came to realize it’s all about connections if you want to get on, they are not looking for concerned citizens they are looking for specific types of people that make the CB reflect what it wants itself to be (ie lawyers, real estate people, at one point I saw someone who I think was a student around 20 years old). Of course the only other way to get on the board is to know a politician who puts you on it (presumably to launch your own political career) so really, I don’t think it’s reflective at all of the community.
We can no longer walk down our streets safely nor can we go into a store without witnessing thefts on a regular basis. Mentally disturbed and drug addicted homeless people are all over our neighborhood. Criminals have taken over. And our “representatives “ want to talk about composting and helicopters????? Disgraceful.
Mandatory composting! Why doesn’t Gale Brewer turn her attention to lack of affordable housing, the permanent scaffolding /unused church on 86th/Amsterdam which she so strongly advocated not be turned into housing and permanent homelessnesses inside our doorways
How come there is no mandate that the next residential building be for low to mid income rentals? Why is it only multi million dollar OR a homeless shelter for released prisoners not from this neighborhood ? With composting. Why can’t Gale use her influence there?
I am intrigued also, so how much has Gale raised to save the church? I bet it’s a number that starts with the letter “z.”
I hear it’s progressed well – they’re up to $1.49. Continued strong commitment to “we’re buying a church.”
This is a club, they do not elect any new members from the community. It’s always the same old folks with certain political connections. People have applied for years and rejected in our community. Really they need to bring in new blood.
Just a technical observation. At least recently, whenever I “like” a comment – it seems with my phone, but not my laptop – it counts as two “likes” instead of one. Go figure…
Did Sara Lind run for CB7 chair?
Better question is whether the Board’s new slate of Officers is clear of lobbyists and executives of interest groups.
Does anyone know if this is the case?
Shame on you, Madelyn. Grow the hell up. If this were a real job she’d be fired. What an embarrassment to the neighborhood that we’re overrun with homeless and addicts, seeing crime everywhere, and this is our representation.
The meeting needs to be in person at this point. While I understand that some people feel more folk can participate online, that is not true at all. Many people do not have tech equipment that includes cameras and microphones, and traditionally many elderly do not use tech equipment at all. While I have a laptop that includes both, my desk computer does not have either. However, since I have been back at my office since July of 2020, Zoom is a thing of the distant past for me. Also, I haven’t been to a CB7 meeting in years, but given the crime rate, would like to attend now. The problem with everything is the utter failure of bail reform, and way before that the NYC Council mandating that police back off of quality of life crime. The City has been in a downward spiral since about 2012. Today, it’s completely out of control.
While I do think rats, noise pollution, and subway platforms are important, so are reckless bikes and traffic issues, commercial theft, assaults, gunfire, and other hard core issues that need to be addressed, not only locally, but legislatively, and politics be damned. CB7 needs to be reflective of the entirety of the neighborhood and not simply politics as usual. If something isn’t done soon, my fear is the entire state will turn red and we will all be in big trouble. Hochul stands a good chance of losing if she does not repeal bail reform soon — like yesterday. Adams will not be able to hold on to this City either, former cop or not. The City has not been this dangerous since the 1980s, and it will soon slip back to the 1970s if something drastic isn’t fixed a.s.a.p.
“The City has not been this dangerous since the 1980s” – Please check out this great article showing why this statement is incorrect. https://www.westsiderag.com/2022/09/30/crime-on-the-upper-west-side-over-the-decades
I live among you and I’m voting Zeldin. Crime is rising and Hochul is focused on obscure things like gender selection on NY drivers licenses and giving cannabis licenses to cannabis offenders….enough is enough. She’s not up to the job. Check out the comments section on her social media pages–she is not at all popular yet people will continue to blindly vote blue.
I will not vote for Zeldin, because I’m a woman and will not become a second class citizen whose body is not respected. I am past child bearing age, but my gender is not a breeding machine for the far right wing. That said, I hear you. Crime MUST be dealt with and bail reform must be rescinded. This cannot wait. Smash and grabs, gunshots flying all over the streets, random citizens being hit and killed by bullets, random assaults ruining people’s lives, massive commercial theft … and perpetrators arrested 30, 40, and 50 times with NO ramifications for their crimes is insanity. The subways are a risk. The streets are a risk. Crime was so subdued by 2001-2010, and by 2012 street conditions started to wane. Now it is a nightmare out there. There are Democrats who are for law and order, but they are not running for Governor. Hochul needs shaking up big time. I don’t know how she doesn’t see this, but the slim margin between her and Zeldin needs to shake her tree.
You have some really wild ideas about what the city is like these days. Also wild: your take on how close Zeldin is to overtaking Hochul. There was a poll last week that placed her up over him by 17 points—hardly a “slim margin.”
I would agree with you on all that and I am not happy with the governor’s response to bail reform, and a host of other issues, however Zeldin is an election denier, and that goes to the very heart of our “American Experiment,” no further inquiry into his positions on anything else is required. He must be rejected.
You don’t know any Dem election deniers? From back 2016 till now?
Crime may be technically lower. But people with serious mental health issues are on the streets in greater numbers. At least back then you knew to carry mugging money with you. We shouldn’t go back to those days.
Crime spiked in the last months of 2021. While it’s stayed at that higher level it’s actually held pretty steady sinc early this year.
And this “high” level – which we’d all like to see lowered – is over 20% lower than the lowest level under Giuliani. And folk like zeldin are telling us we were safe then.
If we were safe under Rudy we are safe today.
Oh, had marijuana laws been evenly enforced prior to legalization you’d have a point about the “fairness” of who gets licenses. But I know 50 something whites who tell me that it was de facto legal for them to smoke in public over 30 years ago. And guess who couldn’t?