CB9 Mayhem Continues: Chair Ends Tenure in Frustration, as District Manager Spot Remains Open

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Stuart Balberg and others rush to vote at the end of the Community Board 9 meeting, before time ran out (Image by Sam Raskin/ Bklyner)

CROWN HEIGHTS— Community Board 9 (CB9) ended its regularly scheduled sessions for the summer in a state of even more uncertainty, with vacancies for key board personnel. 

At a characteristically disorderly meeting on Wednesday, June 26, Patricia Baker, who elected as CB9 chair last July, withdrew her name from the running due to her frustration with board’s “dysfunctional” ways. The board did not elect a new one, and failed to address how it would proceed with filling the district manager position, which has been vacant for more than three years

The meeting comes after three members of the executive board stormed out of the May general meeting, preventing the board from having a quorum and in turn hearing from district manager candidates. Last week, the executive board counted votes for the district manager position cast at a June 11 special meeting, only to discover no candidate had reached the vote threshold necessary to be elected. 

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The more than two-hour end-of-session general meeting at M.S 61 dragged on longer than the two hours allotted, leaving board members scrambling to cast ballots for a chair as NYPD officers ushered them out of the school building, before deciding that they would hold a special session in July to elect their chair. CB9 also put off discussion until September on how it would select the new district manager—a position that will be chosen either via forming a new search committee or the existing search committee finding new candidates for which to vote.  

Following regular community board proceedings—committee reports, a Department of Transportation Presentation on a bike lane by Prospect Park along Flatbush Avenue, and other items—around 9 p.m., next up on the agenda was making a decision on the district manager position. A board member and chair candidate, Fred Baptiste, put forward a motion to suspend discussion on the district manager position until after the summer, since at that point the board was running out of time. 

After board member Yaacov Behrman repeatedly—and unsuccessfully— attempted to hurry the meeting along so there would be enough time to handle the district manager situation, the proposal to table discussion on the district manager position was approved, with 20 yes votes, seven no’s and three abstentions, shortly after 9 p.m. 

Next on the agenda was a vote for a new Chair of CB9, with two candidates being considered: current chair Baker and current CB9 member, Baptiste. In a surprise twist, Baker said she wouldn’t run for re-election, but would remain on the board. 

“As of tonight, I am withdrawing my name,” she said. 

She went on to express her displeasure about the board’s recent behavior known, calling it “dysfunctional.” 

“They talk about ‘We should all work together,’” she said to the crowd, speaking of unnamed board members. “They speak those words, but they don’t walk the walk.”

Baker also talked up the board’s productivity, arguing that, despite chaotic meetings, work gets done behind the scenes. 

“It looks like we get nothing done, but we do, because that office, regardless of what’s happening during the meetings, that office runs 365 days out of the year,” said Baker.     

Baptiste, the other candidate for board chair, made short remarks, thanking Baker for her service on the community board and looked forward to the road ahead.  

Patricia Baker speaking to Fred Baptiste at the Community Board 9 meeting (Image by Sam Raskin/ Bklyner)

“It’s going to be a busy summer,” he said. 

That’s when members started to cast votes, and it soon became clear it was too late and they had to exit the building, announcing they would hold a special meeting next month to elect a chair.  

After some hurried voting, Baptiste told Bklyner the board would be formally electing a chair in July, though currently nobody else is in the running.

“We have to have a special meeting to actually complete the elections,” said Baptiste. 

When exactly will the meeting be?  

“I don’t know,” he said, “the chair has to call it.”

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  1. CB 9 meeting being closed because they have to leave the building is a prime example of how community boards are prevented from doing their work by the lack of meeting faciities that they control. The inflexibility of the host facilities (in this case a public school building) is emblematic of the hierarchical position community boards have in the power & decision making structure of this City. Community Boards are the eyes and ears of the City agencies that serve the our fellow residents.

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