Council Committee Seeks Term Limits, Reforms For Community Boards

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Members of a City Council committee are pushing a resolution introduced last week that calls for the city’s 59 community boards to adopt sweeping reforms, including term limits.

The council’s Committee on Governmental Operations met on March 3, drawing up the list of recommendations to improve the recruitment and function of the boards.

The local boards, each made up of 50 unpaid, volunteer members, have long drawn criticism for their appointment processes, which many say are politically motivated. Boardmembers are appointed by the borough president at the recommendation of local councilmembers, leading some to criticize their independence.

According to the Daily Eagle, the recommendations include:

  • Term limits of five consecutive two-year terms for board members.
  • Online application and technology infrastructure.
  • Conflict of interest disclosure by all applicants.
  • Requiring reappointment applications with evaluation of attendance, service and participation.
  • Ban on political appointments; specifically staffers of elected officials and executive board members of a political party.
  • Filling vacancies within 30 days.
  • Improved outreach and recruitment focusing on diversity, geography and experts.
  • Youth representation by 16- and 17-year olds as public members of youth committees and as full board members.

While the existence of the community boards are mandated by the City Charter, each board maintains its own bylaws dictating how they function. Some boards, such as Community Board 13, representing Coney Island and Brighton Beach, have term limits for its officers, while others, like Community Board 15, representing Sheepshead Bay, do not.

In Sheepshead Bay, community board recruitment and membership became an issue during the recent City Council race. At a September debate, the Democratic candidates discussed the local board’s diversity as well as term limits and the ways to depoliticize the appointment process.

Chaim Deutsch, who went on to win the election, said he hoped to strengthen and diversify the board, but didn’t offer details. He did note that he was opposed to term limits for board members.

“If you have board members that are there and following the processes and going to meetings and following up, and where you have various issues like zoning issues and they actually go down and look at the homes they’re having a hearing on – that person should stay,” Deutsch said at the time.

  • Amanda Greg

    Why stop at the community boards. Why do we need different city councilman, state senators, state assemblyman . Each city councilman has a multi million dollar STAFF and expense budgets. How many people even know who they are? They don’t effect the average persons lifes. If they went away completely not much would change Lets combine the city council with the state assembly . Have the same person serve both positions . Both body’s do not need to meet everyday (technically state assembly and senate are part time positions ) we have too much representation for which almost no one in the community knows who they are or what they do. They play the game of bribing select voting blocks with giveaways to get the small needed votes needed to stay in power. This leads to corruption .

    • BrooklynBus

      Where do you get your figures about multi-million dollar staffs?

      Yes, let’s get rid of them all. A dictatorship is so much cheaper.

      FYI if not for your city council who overrode the mayor, you would be paying muni-meters on Sundays, so they do affect your life. And if no one knows who they are, are the politicians to blame, or the people who elected them and those who didn’t bother to vote to blame? when did you last attend your Community Board meeting? ever?

      I wouldn’t waste time commenting on your other ridiculous suggestions.

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

      It seems you have little idea of what these bodies do, and how they operate. It’s against the law for a officeholder to hold two positions simultaneously. To do so would create a circumstance where power is controlled by a smaller group of people, which increases the possibility of corrupt behavior. That people are collectively ignorant is the result of individual actions. No one is discouraged from participating in the process of voting, and it is the responsibility of he voter to educate themselves regarding the positions that are on the ballot, and the candidates who wish to fill them.

      I suggest you find out for yourself what various legislative bodies do. Then endeavor to make wise choices when electing those who will populate the chambers of these entities. After you’ve come to understand matters better encourage others to do the same.