So much for unity in the community.
That was supposed to be this year’s theme for Community Board 12, but the body appears to be in crisis as members lambasted its chairwoman at yesterday’s meeting, claiming she was violating the bylaws. One board member even called on her to step down.
The rules of order went right out the window after CB 12 Chairwoman Jacqueline Boyce exceeded her authority by attempting to dissolve the board’s nominating committee and the seat of parliamentarian as well as creating new bylaws without the knowledge of anyone but a select few.
“I feel like we are being screwed over as a community and it’s happening from within,” member Herlema Owens told the Chronicle after the meeting, taking a shot a Boyce, who replaced three-term chairwoman Adjoa Gzifa, in May 2011. “The whole board is falling apart.”
Owens, who had been the parliamentarian, announced early in the meeting that she was not going to seek reappointment.
Sitting in her seat on the executive board was Glenn Greenidge, director of real estate operations for the Farmers Boulevard Community Development Corp. He had just recently been appointed as a general board member. His role was unclear to the attendees as Boyce never explained why he was there. When questioned about it, board members were told that he was the sergeant at arms, a position that had not existed before.
Five minutes before the meeting was scheduled to end, Boyce announced that the Bylaws Committee met and that member Maurice Muir, the board’s newly elected third vice chairman, would be presenting a report on proposed changes to the body’s guidelines.
The board members were furious that they had not been notified of the meeting, had not been given the opportunity to sit on the committee and were mailed a copy of the proposal two days prior to the general board meeting without being given a copy of the original bylaws until that evening. Muir was repeatedly interrupted and shouted down by irate board members and was unable to give his report, so the substance of the changes was never discussed.
“We are not following the bylaws because we are supposed to have an election for parliamentarian,” said Bilal Karriem, chairman of the Youth Committee. “This should have never even made the floor. There are numerous mistakes, numerous violations and to be honest, being an activist, anyone in their right mind shouldn’t have even sent this out.”
Boyce said after examining the bylaws and noticing that some things “were not correct,” she asked Muir to go over them. The committee, led by Chairwoman Leslie Spigner came up with some recommendations and the full board has 30 days to decide whether to approve them, Muir said.
“The board members have the right to sit on any committee, so when did you meet?” asked Yolanda Thompkins, chairwoman of the Nominating Committee, who is also a member of the Bylaws Committee and was never told of the gathering. Boyce did not answer her question.
“There is no need for this,” Boyce said, attempting to regain control of the room. “We are a board and we are working together.”
Muir claimed changes were needed because the bylaws contained legal mistakes and antiquated language. Karriem said the revisions would turn the board into a “dictatorship,” giving too much control to Boyce.
“We are going to talk to the Chronicle about this,” shouted Edith Thomas, chairwoman of the Economic Development Committee.
As the discussion spun more and more out of control, members made motions on the floor that just floated out into space.
Frustrated by the whole debacle, Thomas made a motion to adjourn the meeting. It was seconded, but ignored. Others shouted “table it,” and board member Florence Johnson made a motion to table the discussion, which was seconded, but also ignored.
“I move that this document be withdrawn and reworked, because there are sections in there that shouldn’t be in there,” said board member Billy Mitchell. Once again it was seconded, but went nowhere.
“There’s a motion on the floor,” shouted Thompkins. “That’s why you need a parliamentarian.”
Muir rebutted by citing Robert’s Rules of Order, stating that the parliamentarian is not an elected office, and the person holding the seat is there solely for giving consultation and advice.
After nearly 20 minutes of nonstop shouting and arguing, Boyce abruptly called it an evening.
“I must say that this is really something that I expected,” she said. “We are going to end the meeting now, because I am not surprised at what took place, so we are ready for this. ... Thank you very much and good night.”
By then the meeting had so exceeded its time limit that a security guard at the Robert Ross Johnson Family Life Center in St. Albans, where the meeting was held, started turning off the lights and asking people to leave. The members continued to argue outside in the parking lot.
Marshall's office gets involved
Dan Andrews, spokesman for Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, said today, April 20, that CB 12 board members are going to be invited to Borough Hall to discuss what happened at Wednesday's meeting. The Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik, who is also the director of community boards, will oversee the talk. Andrews would not say whether anyone would be removed from the board if wrongdoing is discovered.