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Queens Chronicle

CB leaders defend placard privilege

Blast mayor’s plan to nix their parking; proposal would take effect on Feb. 1

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Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:17 am, Thu Jan 31, 2013.

Queens community board leaders are angry over the mayor’s proposal to take away their parking placards, a perk they say is essential, especially when they need to attend events around the city as part of their job, which is a volunteer position.

“It’s the most idiotic thing the mayor has ever done,” said Jerry Iannece, chairman of CB 11. “It’s foolish. It’s shortsighted and they should rescind the policy immediately.”

The move would take effect on Feb. 1 and apply to all 59 community board chairpersons citywide, removing their ability to park for free for three hours in places other people can’t.

“I think it’s wrong, but it’s systemic of this mayor,” Iannece said. “He doesn’t believe in community boards, so the more inconvenient he can make it for us, the more he likes it.”

Iannece noted that being the chairperson of a community board is a labor of love and often an added expense. The job requires traveling to numerous meetings, but does not compensate for gas or tolls. He said the least the city can do is help with parking.

“As part of our overall 20 percent citywide reduction of parking placards that began in 2008, placards for community boards will be available for the district manager, who is an employee of the city,” Evelyn Erskine, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office said in an email.

Iannece said if the perk is axed, he just won’t attend meetings in Manhattan and other areas where parking is scarce and expensive. He was so outraged by the mayor’s proposal that he sent a letter to the heads of each community board in Queens asking them to speak out against the placard yanking.

CB 7 Chairman Gene Kelty echoed Iannece’s sentiments. He said he takes great care to make sure his placard is only used when on official city business and added that not having one would make getting around to meetings more difficult and more expensive.

“It’s a nice courtesy,” Kelty said of the placards. “I think it’s inappropriate for them not to give it to us.”

Kelty, who has been a CB 7 member for 28 years, spending nearly two decades as chairman, regularly goes to civic meetings, district cabinet meetings and public hearings. He said if he has to pay for parking or to ride the bus, he may be less inclined to attend.

Adrienne Adams, the newly elected chairwoman of CB 12, presided over her first meeting on Jan. 16 and doesn’t even have a placard yet, though she said she applied for one, and she was vocal in her opposition to Bloomberg’s plan.

“The timing couldn’t be worse, as far as the economy is concerned, to start taking things away,” Adams said. “We are volunteers and we have a responsibility to travel. So for the mayor to discontinue the parking placards is extremely inconsiderate and I am confused as to why he would do that.

“It’s unfair for him to place this burden on us,” Adams continued. “We work too hard not to be considered important.”

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