After last month’s Community Board 12 meeting turned into a shouting match, with members outraged over proposed changes to the body’s bylaws, Chairwoman Jacqueline Boyce was determined to keep the May 16 meeting on schedule and prevent it from spiraling out of control.
As a result of the bylaws fiasco, Boyce announced that she had been called down to Borough Hall to speak with attorneys about how to proceed. She was instructed to give each board member a copy of the old bylaws, which they had to sign off on to prove they had received the documents.
“We are going to do this right. We are not going to end up in the paper this week,” Boyce said, referring to an April 19 Chronicle exclusive on the events at the last board meeting.
The board members will consider the revisions, offer comments and vote on whether to accept the changes next month. In the meantime, board member Yolanda Thompkins pointed out that CB 12 was in violation of its present bylaws by not having an election for the seat of parliamentarian. Herlema Owens vacated the office last month.
Thompkins was nominated, elected to the seat unopposed and sworn in by City Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica), all within the course of about 20 minutes, making it the fastest election at the community board in recent memory.
Third Vice Chairman Maurice Muir nominated Glenn Greenidge, who has acted as time keeper at the last two meetings, but Thompkins quickly noted that he had not been a member of the board long enough to qualify for the post and the nomination was withdrawn.
There was a disagreement between Muir and Thompkins, with the former suggesting that the nominating committee should be an adhoc committee rather than a standing one, which is what the new bylaws would call for. However, Thompkins pointed out that since the revisions had not been adopted the proposal was moot.
Boyce stood in as the interim Nominating Committee chairwoman to oversee nominations from the floor for the seat of parliamentarian at the meeting.
“This is a perfect example of why it should be a standing committee, because when we have a special election, we shouldn’t have to turn around and say, can the committee get up to speed?” Thompkins said. “The committee should be up to speed right away.”
As the former Nominating Committee chairwoman, Thompkins is well versed in the community board’s bylaws and procedures, often having to interrupt Boyce at the last two meetings and correct her. Boyce, who was elected to the post just over one year ago, sometimes loses track of the order of the agenda or motions made on the floor.
Changes to the bylaws are necessary, according to Muir, because they contain legal mistakes and antiquated language including “references to abolished city agencies, reliance upon outdated Uniform Land Use Review Procedure and obstacles preventing the harmonious operation of the board.”
The proposal consists of eight amendments including dissolving the position of parliamentarian and deleting any references to the Board of Estimate, which has not existed since 1989. It is also recommended that the position of area chairperson be abolished because it is a seat that has remained vacant for many years and those duties are duplicated by other standing committees.
Leslie Spigner, the chairwoman of the Bylaws Committee, who was not present at the April meeting, stated that the board would be opening up the committee, so that any CB 12 member who wanted to join could do so. Some complained at the last meeting that they didn’t even know the committee existed.