When Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) introduced a bill to impose term limits on community board members appointed in April 2016 or later, he knew it wouldn’t sit well with those on one of the 59 boards throughout the city.
But in last week’s State of the Borough address, Borough President Melinda Katz laid out her opposition to the plan, joining a long list of community board members.
“The expertise of the long-standing members balance well with the many new folks that are being appointed,” Katz said. “I have great faith in our process and in our City Council members to recommend appointments that are truly representative of their respective neighborhoods.”
In recent weeks, Community Boards 4, 5 and 6 have all come out against Dromm’s proposal at their monthly meetings, with CB 4 public safety chairwoman Lucy Schilero even telling the councilman the legislation was “an insult” to all those who volunteer their time to serve their communities.
In a phone interview on Monday, Dromm simply pointed at the political turmoil surrounding Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver as the reason why term limits are so necessary.
“I think one only needs to look at what’s going on in Albany right now to see why term limits are so necessary,” Dromm said. “Term limits is a good government issue. And people who are on community boards are actually part of government.”
Silver, the Assembly speaker for the last 21 years and a member of the legislative body since 1977, was arrested in Manhattan on fraud charges last week.
In addition to avoiding possible corruption, Dromm hammered home his point of making boards more representative of the communities they cover and bringing in new blood with new opinions.
“I believe term limits will bring in new people with new ideas. The borough president said in her speech that 26 percent of existing members have less than three years of experience,” he said. “That works in my favor. That means 74 percent of members have been there for more than three years.”
Dromm also added there is less opposition to the bill than meets the eye, despite his colleague, Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), recently joining with Katz and area boards in denouncing his proposal.
“So many people are in favor,” he said. “I believe overwhelmingly that the people of the City of New York will support it.”
When asked about the law, should it hypothetically become one, potentially booting out future chairmen or members who do an overwhelming amount of good for their community, Dromm stood firmly behind his view that new blood isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“It’s not good government to have people serve 40 and 50 years,” he said. “No one is irreplaceable.”