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Queens Chronicle

JPCA wants councilman censured for racial remarks

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Posted: Thursday, April 9, 2009 12:00 am

The Juniper Park Civic Association is calling on a council member to be censured for accusing community members of racism.

Councilman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn) made the comments during a subcommittee hearing on a highly controversial plan to place a high school in Maspeth. The civic association is against the plan, which passed in the City Council on April 2. Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), who represents the area, pushed for the 1,100-seat school to be locally zoned, so students graduating from the nearest schools get first shot at a seat.

But Barron called the attempt to block students from outside the area “segregationist.”

“You want to come here with your council member and try to justify segregation,” he said, adding, “… they want to keep their high school for their white children.”

JPCA members attending the meeting were taken back by the comments.

“If he had a clue, he would know we have an ethnically diverse area,” said JPCA executive board member Manny Caruana.

While Maspeth and Middle Village are predominantly white, Crowley said the district’s schools have a higher percentage of minorities.

“When Barron said what he said, he didn’t know what he was talking about, because our schools are diverse, they’re not all white,” Crowley said.

Gary Giordano, the district manager of Community Board 5, which includes Maspeth and Middle Village, said that Barron’s comments could have skewed council members voting on the project. “For those who heard a statement like that, they may kind of step back a few steps,” Giordano said.

The JPCA is calling on Council Speaker Christine Quinn to publicly censure the councilman for his conduct; also, they are requesting him to apologize to those who testified at the subcommittee hearing, as well as Crowley.

Neither Barron nor Quinn returned calls seeking comment.

Welcome to the discussion.