standard Study to Rezone Empire Boulevard Rescinded, Group Claims

Empire Boulevard (Photo by Matthew Taub)

Empire Boulevard (Photo by Matthew Taub)

A request for the City Planning Department to study Empire Boulevard and recommend possible zoning modifications was successfully rescinded in a Community Board vote and should not proceed, a local housing advocacy group claims.

New papers submitted in a pending lawsuit by the Movement to Protect the People (MTOPP) allege District Manager Pearl Miles incorrectly tallied the vote to rescind the request for a study of the roadway at a Community Board 9 meeting in September.

“The CB9 Executive Board and Pearl Miles falsified a legal[ly] binding lawful document!”  said Alicia Boyd, MTOPP’s founder, in an e-mail to supporters. “Is corruption in our community so deep that they can break the laws right out in the open?”

As reported previously by Brooklyn Brief, a tally of the vote by reporters and others gathered (with at least 18 in favor of rescinding the study) did not match the official count (16 in favor, 9 against, 8 abstentions). The Board then counted the abstentions along with “nay” votes to keep the resolution intact, a permissible practice according to community board handbook when both “no” votes and abstentions are greater than all votes in favor.

Since the September meeting, however, MTOPP initiated several Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests to obtain the voting record. A review of documents provided in response to the FOIL request conflicts with live video coverage of the vote being conducted, with at least two individuals (Unella Rhone-Perry and Kenya Sollas) listed as absent from the vote, but actually voting in favor of rescinding the resolution. A corrected vote, with 18 in favor of rescinding the resolution, would exceed the 9 “no” votes and 8 abstentions, even if combined.

“We won the rescindment of the Resolution,” Boyd said. “And right in front of the entire community, they [the Community Board] broke the law.”

Others attributed the tally to mere mistake.

Alicia Boyd, MTOPP's Founder (Photo by Matthew Taub)

Alicia Boyd, MTOPP’s Founder (Photo by Matthew Taub)

“It was an error, a human error,” wrote Tim Thomas on his local neighborhood blog, the Q at Parkside. “But costly, when you consider the fact that now Alicia [Boyd] and her acolytes have more ammunition to accuse the Board of corruption and deceit.”

In addition to the inaccurate vote tally, MTOPP’s legal papers allege further irregularities by the Board, such as failing to publish the resolution as mandated by the Open Meetings Law, which requires that public bodies maintain minutes which include all “matter[s] formally voted upon by the public body and the vote thereon.”

Sources say MTOPP is waiting to have additional verification of the corrected vote count and a better understanding of the legal implications of the inaccurate vote before they take further action. The group is next meeting on Tuesday evening, at which time they will consider avenues for redress, including the possibility of criminal charges against Miles and the removal and replacement of the CB9 Executive Board.

In the meantime, the Next CB9 meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 16, while MTOPP’s civil case against District Manager Miles and Community Board 9, originally scheduled to be heard on November 28th, was administratively rescheduled to December 11th.

“We will have our day in court to stop this charade of a Community Board,” Boyd said. “Once this current resolution is dead–and it is dying!–we will demand full participation, discussions and consensus from the entire community, and we will keep the court system involved in this case to ensure that CB9 adheres to all the laws.”

We have reached out to Peal Miles, Community Board 9, MTOPP, and the Prospect Park East Network (PPEN) and can update this story if they respond.

  • sid

    The practice of counting the abstentions as “no’s”, is not a permissible practice but a mandatory one.

    The New York City Charter requires that for a motion to pass its got to have the majority of the people voting or present with one exception. The abstentions are counted as voting so you need a majority of the people present to vote in favor of the motion for it to pass. So that abstentions must be counted as no’s. The only exception is if someone abstains because they have a legally required conflict as defined by the Board of Ethics. They should state they are conflicted out and their non-vote is not counted towards to the number needed to pass the motion.

  • http://stevenmitchell.blogspot.com/ Steven P. Mitchell

    It is sometimes very hard to distinguish human incompetence from human corruption, although they may both grow from the same seed…

  • http://stevenmitchell.blogspot.com/ Steven P. Mitchell

    The world certainly needs more Alicia Boyd’s – especially in this age of shallow intelligence as a utensil for short-term planning. It is an unfortunate consequence of modern technology and its affects on the human brain, that the current generation of government planners are incapable of deeper thought and planning for the longer horizon. In the long-term, market economics leads to societal demise.