Monday, June 23, 2014

[Updated] The Villager calls for change atop Community Board 3

In an unprecedented move, The Villager has published an endorsement for the chair of Community Board 3 (CB3).

This is unusual given that CB3 members vote for the chair — it's not any kind of general election for residents. (By the way, the vote is tomorrow night.)

However, The Villager feels strongly that change is needed at the top. Gigi Li, who has served two one-year terms as chairperson, is running for re-election to a third term. Chad Marlow, a CB3 board member for two years, is opposing her.

There is a lot at stake, namely, the future direction of the board and, thus, of the neighborhood.

The newspaper lays out recent incidents, such as Li's decision to suspend the LES Dwellers from meetings, that have marred CB3's reputation. In addition, another board member said that Li failed to appoint any Black or Latino members as the chair of a committee, subcommittee or task force.

CB3 is clearly in disarray, and there is a growing sense of disconnect with the community that it is supposed to serve.

There is a strong sentiment for change, both within the community and on CB3.

And!

CB3 has fallen into a rut, and the community has lost trust that their voices are being heard. And, in the case of the LES Dwellers, their voice was actually silenced by the board for a period of time. This is not community democracy the way it’s supposed to work.

And so The Villager is strongly supporting Marlow as the new CB3 chair — "For the good of the community board and of the neighborhood."

While we have never personally met Marlow, he has been a frequent and credible source of information to us through the years. (He is one of the few CB3 members who doesn't seem to adopt a bunker mentality with the press, as The Villager noted.)

Among Marlow's accomplishments: Successfully spearheading the Alphabet City-Tompkins Square Slow Zone ... and forming the Tompkins Square Park & Playgrounds Parents’ Association to help curb the rat population in the Park.

And last year, Marlow launched the crowdfunding campaign that raised nearly $19,000 for the family of gravely injured East Village Farm and Grocery worker Akkas Ali.

Back to The Villager:

[W]e’re impressed by his record of accomplishment, and we feel, were he elected, he simply would — get things done, and that he would get the right things, positive things done. In short, he is more activist and energetic than Li, and that’s what we need.

Updated 6-24
Li won the election. Read more about it here.


36 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting that the VIllager feels called upon to involve itself in an election that involves 51 Board members.

Anonymous said...

I think its a hard call -- the board president does a lot of work that's not in the public eye, and so gets less credit. But things could be better at CB3.

Anonymous said...

It's a shame the community can't vote in this election. It would be a landslide for Marlow. I hope CB3's members realize that the community wants change BADLY as if they do not support the community by voting for Marlow the community is not going to support them.

Anonymous said...

The chair may be doing work behind the scenes as well, but Mr Marlow has truly distinguished himself in the community in the way in which the current chair has not. My family are very excited about the upcoming slow zone and Mr Marlow's leadership on this issue. His efforts to fundraise for Mr Ali also show deep compassion that I feel many of our CB members lack.

Anonymous said...

Chad has been a member for ONE year, and started running for Chair in secret after 6 months on the board. Just a clarification.

Anonymous said...

This Marlow sounds like a straight-shooter with upper-management written all over him.

Anonymous said...

I am excited about Chad's candidacy for some basic reasons in addition to what the editorial said. To attend a full CB3 board meeting as a regular citizen is truly bizarre and demoralizing. The Board members are seated all over the place -- randomly in the audience -- so that you can't even tell who is on the board. They're also holding loud side conversations. Upholding some kind of decorum and dignity is so basic. I have confidence that Chad, if empowered as chairman, would promptly make some changes to make Board meetings more sane, logical and open. Democracy is messy enough even in the best situation. We don't need juvenile institutional obstacles adding to the challenge of local governance.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 10:51. Not that it matters, but Marlow is in his second year on CB3, served on Manhattan CB2 for 3 years, and has 6 more years of CB expirence from two different Bronx CBs. And how do you know when he "started running for Chair in secret"? Did he tell you that day? You two must be very close. Ha ha.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of CB 3, when is Susan Stetzer going to be term-limited out of her "job"? She should be replaced ASAP, or better still the so-called "job" she fills should be eliminated.

Bill the libertarian anarchist and resident of Havana-on-the- Hudson, a satrapy of Pyongyang-on-the-Potomac

Anonymous said...

The only way Marlow will win if he is politically connected and have the funds to pay-off the other board members to vote for him Li, certainly has both. This is how elections are won in this country, through fear and intimidation and by money. U.S.A. U.S.A. U.S.A. God Bless America.

Anonymous said...

Most but not all board members will vote by whomever nominated them to be on the board. Rosie has spoken in favor of Gigi so I'd be willing to bet that the people she appointed will support Gigi. I haven't any comments from Chin & Brewer.

Anonymous said...

The votes of every CB3 member are public information, so I hope EV Grieve will post them after the vote so we can see who the traitors to the community (Li voters) are!

2nd Street said...

It is amazingly amazing how little some of those leaving comments know about community boards generally, about CB 3 specifically, about this community..or even about the realm of reality.
Good for a late afternoon chuckle, though.

Jill said...

I'm not defending Li, her reign has not been smooth, but the person above who thinks full board meetings had "decorum" prior to Li clearly never attended one.

Anonymous said...

I spy a Li's minion living on 2nd street.

Anonymous said...

2nd Street - why don't you enlighten us instead?

rob said...

No CB chair is perfect, but the Villager has supported each one uncritically and fawningly regardless how defective they were until an Asian female from Chinatown became chair. Now the Villager supports yet another white male from the gentrified East Village. The Villager's bias is no doubt below the level of its introspection, but it should be obvious to everyone else.

Anonymous said...

Rob: You are right that no chair is perfect, but this one has been a disaster by any reasonable standard. The Manhattan Borough President's office should have a desk in CB3's offices given how often they have had to intervene with CB3. That is the difference here. It is pretty sad, and a poor reflection on you, that you make it about Li's race. Part of the move toward a race blind society is judging everyone equally - that means no one is judged unduly harshly or gets a free pass beause of their race. Poor form, Rob. Poor form.

Anonymous said...

Amen Rob. The Villager is simply not a credible news source. They constantly get facts wrong, fail to correct them, run poorly written and sourced articles, etc, etc. I do not think that they're racist in their opposition to Gigi, I just think that they found a way to try to stay in the public eye in a last gasp of breath.
Most folks truly have NO IDEA what they're even opining on...

rob said...

A disaster? Hardly. There's always plenty to complain about a CB chair (and I could remind you of a few prior disasters), but I cannot recall the Villager ever complaining about previous CB chairs. To quote you anon 10:35, "Part of the move toward a race blind society is judging everyone equally - that means no one is judged unduly harshly or gets a free pass beause of their race." Exactly my point. (The "poor form, rob" ad hominem attack comment is ... poor form. Stick to the content, please.)

Anonymous said...

I still pick up a copy of the Villager every week out of habit. That being said, I found it peculiar that they weighed in on this issue in which they have zero input. It seemed like a desperate attempt to generate "buzz" rather than anything else. They seem to be stuck in a different era while everyone else has moved on to DNAinfo and various news sites and blogs that provide daily news and updates.

rob said...

The power base in Community District 3 has always been in the East Village, an area that is no longer in crisis, unlike Chinatown and the NYCHA properties by the waterfront. Those are the neighborhoods that need attention. Gigi was a counterbalance in the right direction, regardless of her procedural missteps. No one can predict how a CB chair will succeed so I won't venture an opinion on Mr. Marlow, but why is there no challenger from NYCHA? Why does it always come back to the EV?

Anonymous said...

Those who tend to run are those who are actively involved in the Board. Shouldn't it be that way?

Also - Dominic is from the LES.

Anonymous said...

I agree. The Villager is a bad newspaper. It's shame that an area as vital as their catchment area doesn't have better qualified professionals covering it.

Some of the blogs are better written that that supposed news publication.

Anonymous said...

I don't know much about Marlowe but I see people attributing problems to Gigi Li that are deep seated and were there long before she was there,vote against Gigi Li because you disagree with things that she's done, don't vote against her because the power structure is white, or because board members are rude or because people are demoralized.

rob said...

@1:31 -- Why should it be that way? It's how it is, sure, but why would you imagine that it would benefit the neighborhoods at most risk? Also, Dominic was from neither Chinatown nor from the NYCHA properties nor from any disempowered community at risk. The permanent government at the CB is the DM, very much EV. It would be good to have a counterbalance.

Anonymous said...

@Rob
The East Village is no longer in crisis? Do you live here? Residents are fighting like dogs every day for all kinds of things- housing rights, SLA license opposition, harassment, landmarks etc. etc. etc.
Don't know how good Marlow will be but Gigi is non responsive. She just curls up in a ball and waits til people stop calling. She has refused to meet with various EV Organizations, ignores letters and confrontations from residents.
As bad as the others have been at least they responded in some way. She just ignores everything and you are a fool if you think that she will do anything for Chinatown. You are really out of touch Rob. If you think that activists on the Lower East Side have not made a huge difference you are wrong.

Anonymous said...

@ Rob
FYI Gigi was not a counterbalance in the right direction. She was a key player on SPURA and made a pact with McWater and Pisciotta in exchange for her election. The SPURA development is the most racist classist plan ever to hit the Lower East Side. An anchor for further luxury development on the Lower East Side, Chinatown and the East Village and NYCHA.

rob said...

@5:19 -- "As bad as the others have been...at least they responded"? Yup, McWater sure responded -- with bullying, slandering, obstructing community activists (!!), yelling at them and coercing until he got just about whatever he wanted good or bad. Short memory 5:19. And the Villager cheered him.

Gigi has done a lot for the Chinatown community planning process, despite her ideological differences with the planning group. That speaks well of her. And 5:36, I agree about SPURA, but let's not forget that SPURA was McWater's work, not Gigi's. The Villager never criticised McWater, but now it's weighing in against Gigi. Maybe I'm out of touch, but I think some folks here are blind and forgetful.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that Li was part of the coven that banned the LES Dwellers for speaking out against them, basically stifling the LES Dweller's first amendment's right. ANd this was during the time when CB3 was getting a lot of liquor licenses application. If you want more bars and rowdy crowd, and shiny condos, then yes, Li's the (wo)man. You think she's doing this out of the goodness of her heart and serving the community. She's only doing this out of the goodness of her pockets and serving her bank account. And for a future seat in the City Council, so that she can serve the community of Bloomberg's godsend billionaires.

Anonymous said...

@rob As someone who regularly attends CB meetings I'm wondering how many you've actually attended and wittnessed the behavior of Ms. Li. She lacks the leadership skills required to manage such a large and diverse group of community interests. often times resulting in board and board committee meetings that drag on forever and never wind up debating the more serious and significant issues that the community faces. Ms. Li has repeatedly allowed committee members particularly those on the SLA Committee to ignore standing policies and procedures and vote for their particular self interests. Your comments seem to imply that there is nothing worth fighting for in the East Village which denegrades the countless hours that residents spend trying to preserve what's left of the East Village, by attending countless SLA Committee hearings, landmarking hearings, economic development meetings, etc.

Lincoln Anderson said...

Yes, it is unusual for The Villager to endorse in a community board election. But in this case we felt Marlow really was a far better candidate. The Villager didn't criticize McWater on SPURA or the LES rezoning because we supported those initiatives. However, it was The Villager that also broke the story that McWater was (probably) living in NJ, a violation of the rules for being on an NYC community board. The last time we endorsed in a CB election was some years ago when Brad Hoylman ran for chairperson at CB 2 vs. Jim Smith. Hoylman, again, was a much better candidate we felt, and Smith (who won), eventually went on to be complicit in covering up a conflict-of-interest ruling pertaining to another CB 2 member, Bob Rinaolo, which stated a CB member who has a liquor-licensed premise should not be voting on an SLA-type committee when it involves a liquor license that could be a conflict of interest for him. (In this case, Rinaolo was voting against the liquor license application of a former partner who he was then in litigation with). The CB 2 district manager at the time (another very strong -- probably way too strong -- district manager) was also aware of the COI ruling, but kept it hush-hush. At any rate, due to The Villager's expose on Rinaolo, he later withdrew from the CB 2 chairperson race when he ran a few years later - though he had seemed a shoo-in until The Villager's reporting. We felt Marlow vs. Li was a race with a clear difference, not due to any malfeasance on Li's part -- not at all, not by any means -- but just because we felt Marlow would provide better leadership and shake things up, in a good way, and provide smart, energetic leadership, and be more responsive to the community. The banning of the LES Dwellers by Gigi Li, we felt, was problematic, and not a good thing for a community board chairperson to be doing. (The full board, in fact, never even voted on it.) In the end, Marlow didn't have the numbers, and the race was not as close as it appeared it might be. In the end, the board members pretty much vote (probably) the way their political patrons tell them to. If our editorial can help the CB be a better board, at the end of the day, that's all we can do, and we hope that's the upshot of this all, along with generating a constructive discussion about the community board. Also, The Villager DOES editorialize, IS willing to take positions and go out on a limb. That's something that other news outlets mentioned by critics above DON'T do, but that The Villager DOES.

rob said...

@9:20 -- Sounds like CB3 business as usual. The CB chair doesn't run the committees, so their failings are not her direct fault. That said, however, the SLA committee seems a bit more functional than previous years, and Land Use deals intelligently and smoothly with issues. I've seen Gigi at Exec meetings where she was unusually open, informed, effective and professional.

There are different styles of "leadership" -- even McWater was extraordinarily effective in his way -- and I've watched her grow in the job. The debacle with Dwellers was a bad mistake, but didn't the DM participate in that and facilitate it? Why didn't the DM, who's been around forever and should know better, warn her rather than collude with her? Both of them should have known better. Public process is rarely smooth, but trying to solve it by intervening through abuse of power and abandonment of process are worse.

I agree that the SLA committee would be better off without bar owners on it. I don't find their contribution indispensible, and their presence undermines the public's confidence in the committee. I'm told CB2 has no bar owners on its committee, though I don't know that for a fact.

But, yes, having lived here since the 1970's , I don't relate to much of what's today viewed as "saving" the EV. That's the measure of my remoteness, sorry. I do worry a lot about Gigi's beliefs relating to development, but I don't see her pushing any agenda. Can someone show that she's actively promoting particular developers or developments in CD3? The SPURA battle was lost before she became chair, and if you don't like what they did there (and I don't), you have to speak to Tito and the others who were dispossessed but applauded the compromise.

Anonymous said...



@Rob
It was the SPURA Task Force where Li appointed Pisciotta and McWater. It was really McWater and Pisciotta's show to begin with. They were the driving forces. Up until this point though there was still hope of possible changes and diversions to the SPURA plan. Well now you see the it's over. Developers will get everything they want and more. This is what Mcwater and Pisciotta wanted as it's an anchor for the future lux area in CB 3. It's hard to believe that it could become any more affluent than it already has but it's only just begun. Pisciotta owns a coop in Seward Park. Those and East River Park coops were originally restricted affordable housing until their flip to the open market. Unit prices have risen by 92%. From last year alone prices have skyrocketed. Mcwater has had his own aspirations for himself and other business owners in the area.

The Committees? This is part of the controversy, how certain members are on too many committees and others are on only one or unfairly rejected. These are Li's policies.

The SLA Committee has actually been the worst it's ever been over the past years. I remember like five years ago when Spink and other liberals were on it,
there was much more of an interest in residents over business. Then it all changed and new SLA Committee members really disparaged residents and sided with bar and restaurant owners. I have no idea why. Rules were put in place to protect residents from the onslaught of liquor licenses and committee members violated the policies all the time. At one point the Committee included, Carlina Rivera(GOLES), Bernard Marti, Harvey Epstein, David Conn, Wilson Tang alll of whom left the SLA Committee. You would think that people like Carlina and Harvey would follow policies, no wrong. The only person who did was David Conn.

We were left for like a year with only a few members who consistently violated policies. It was common for there to only be four or five members at meetings. It was a disaster for the community as more high end restaurants were routinely approved.

In terms of problems with bar owners on the SLA Committee. There aren't any bar owners on it. The problem is with one member who votes every applicant in, belittles residents, exhibits rude inappropriate behavior and has been in business as a nightlife consultant (helps applicants to get approved). So that's the issue Rob.

Recently the board has gained new members and activists have worked towards policy reform with the SLA Committee.



Anonymous said...

If the rumors are true, then SLA policies aren't the only thing that Carlina Rivera hasn't adhered to..

bowboy said...

Thanks Rob, but if this leads to another city council member in a few years who is only interested in a couple of specific neighborhoods in this district, we'll remember that this was the kick-off to that future election. In this district, Rajkumar or any other non-Asian will not stand a chance against anyone with an Asian name, and votes will never be cast based on substance and issues.