After 16 years of serving on Community Board 11, Melvyn Meer’s application for reappointment was turned down in April. And nobody has told him why.
“Nobody has given me a reason for nonappointment,” Meer, the board’s former Education Committee chairman, told the Chronicle. “The only thing I have is a letter from the borough president and it says ‘Unfortunately, at this time I am not able to appoint you for the next term.’”
When applying for reappointment, community board members submit a form to their local Council member. The borough president ultimately decides whether they are appointed and is not required to provide an explanation for her action.
“Appointments to Queens community boards are made at the discretion of the borough president, pursuant to the City Charter, half of which are in consultation with the respective Council members,” Katz spokeswoman Sharon Lee said.
Although she respects the borough president’s decision, Community Board 11 Chairwoman Christine Haider personally asked her why the former member was not reappointed.
“She did not give me any reason,” Haider, who discussed her conversation with Katz at this month’s meeting, said in an interview.
In Meer’s case, the Council member with whose consultation the appointment was made is Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside). Last year, Vallone supported a controversial proposal to create a high school where the Bayside Jewish Center currently is. The plan was abandoned after community outcry forced Vallone to ultimately oppose it.
Meer, who also represented CB 11 at the New York Community Aviation Roundtable, received applause after saying goodbye to the board at last week’s meeting. And not long after he spoke, other members spoke about his nonappointment.
“I want to say that there needs to be objective criteria for the public for why people are appointed and why people are not appointed and why people are not reappointed,” said Janet McEneaney of CB 11, who praised Meer as a “model member.”
He was one of the school plan’s vocal opponents, a fact that he thinks may be the reason he wasn’t reappointed to CB 11. “My guess is [Katz] heard from the councilman,” he said.
When the community activists won the battle against the proposed school, it was seen at least in part as a defeat for Vallone.
“Normally, the great powers — the people that invest in real estate and the elected officials — they get their way, more or less,” Meer said. “The councilman took a big hit.”
The former CB 11 member made it clear that he does not think his theory is a definite explanation for what happened, though. “I really don’t know,” he said. “I’m just connecting the dots.”
Meer does not plan on regularly attending future meetings but would be open to coming to one of them “if an issue came up.”
“Community board appointments and reappointments are controlled by the Queens Borough President’s office and are made under her review and discretion,” Vallone said in an emailed statement.