A veteran member of Community Board 6 will resign next week to protest the politically motivated axing of nine board colleagues who voted against Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards mega-development — and he’s urging his fellow panelists to do the same.
Cobble Hill lawyer Joseph Porcelli told The Brooklyn Paper that he would step down on June 11 after six years on the board as a response to Borough President Markowitz and Councilmember Bill DeBlasio’s dismissal last week of board members who disagreed with them on the controversial development.
“We are supposed to be appointed to represent independent opinion. As soon as we did, people were whacked,” Porcelli said, referring to the strong position CB6 took against Atlantic Yards, which Markowitz strongly supports.
Porcelli, an Atlantic Yards critic, kept his seat on the board despite voting for a critical CB6 resolution that said the borough president’s pet project would cause “irreparable damage to the quality of life in the borough of Brooklyn.”
He said the dismissals by Markowitz and DeBlasio (D–Park Slope) render “the whole community board process meaningless.”
“These were people who were extremely knowledgeable and dedicated to presenting the community’s issues fairly and democratically,” he said.
The city’s 50-member boards are made up of residents and business owners appointed by the borough presidents as well as local councilmembers. Community Board 6 covers Park Slope, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and Red Hook.
Markowitz said that he respected any decision made by his appointee.
“He is a longstanding member and I was pleased to reappoint him, which I did in good faith,” he said, adding that there are “many qualified residents on a waiting list to serve.”
Community Board 6 District Manager Craig Hammerman praised Porcelli as someone who “always had a very measured and intelligent response to issues.”
No board members have yet taken Porcelli’s lead, but one member admitted this week that he had considered taking the protest plunge.
“I thought about it,” said longtime member Peter Fleming. “But then I thought that the best way to honor those who were not reappointed would be to stick around and do the work that they can no longer do.”
In a subtle rebuke to Markowitz and DeBlasio, CB6 Chairman Richard Bashner agreed to allow several ousted members to retain their seats on board committees, albeit in a non-voting manner.
The members are former chairman Jerry Armer, Angela Beni, Pauline Blake, Bill Blum, Al Cabbad, Barbara Longobardi, Madalaine Murphy, Marilyn Oliva and Theresa Ricks.
“To the extent that we can, we [told the elected officials] that we want [these people] to continue to make contributions to the board,” said Fleming.