Community Board 7 is on a slippery slope.
Board members across the city are appointed to two-year terms by their respective borough presidents. At the end of the term their service is evaluated, and they are either dismissed or reappointed.
There has been concerted effort over the past couple of years to diversify the boards to make them more representative of the communities they represent.
Critics of the advisory boards say they are made up predominately of people who have served for decades and lost their zest for community service, but don’t want to give up their post.
John Choe was reappointed to CB7 in March of 2021 by Queens Borough President Donovan Richards. This did not sit well with board leadership.
They have their legitimate and illegitimate grievances with Choe. The illegitimate being that he is too critical of board leadership. Boo-hoo.
The legitimate is that he solicited CB7 members for campaign donations (he ran for a City Council post this year). Choe says it was a mistake, that he simply sent a mass email to thousands of contacts that included board members.
Easily corrected: just don’t take donations from board members.
But more than likely, this is about Choe repeatedly calling attention to the fact that vice chair and Land Use Committee chair Chuck Apelian also hires himself out as a land use consultant to developers with projects before the board.
Apelian says it’s not a problem because he recuses himself from the board vote on those projects. Technically true, but hogwash.
But putting all of that aside, CB7 has now started the process to remove Choe from the board on their own despite his reappointment by the borough president.
A special committee, appointed by the board chair, will be convened to make a recommendation to the full board. We’re pretty sure we know what that recommendation will be.
Choe would by removed by a simple majority vote, but we’re pretty sure the margin will be bigger than that. What board member is going to vote against the wishes of the board leadership if they truly do enjoy serving on the board and hope to have any sort of influence over business before the board in the future.
Vote against the leadership wishes, and the next vote might by on your removal.
Regardless of whose side you fall on as to the accusations being levied on both sides, it appears CB7 members now serve at the pleasure of a handful of people who have been on the board for decades, which is not how the process works.
Who on CB7 will ever speak up again?
The time to decide if Choe belongs on the board is when his term comes up for renewal in two years, not now because the board leadership can’t take his criticisms.