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Pro-bike CB10 member not reappointed by lane foe Gentile

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Long-time community activist and bike lane advocate Bob Cassara has been booted from Community Board 10 after nearly 10 years, the only member of the panel who sought re-appointment but did not get it.

Insiders believe that Cassara was tossed by Councilman Vince Gentile because the two disagreed over new bike lanes — though the veteran board member wouldn’t go that far.

“Community boards are all about politics, so what can I say?” Cassara mused. “I don’t want to add fuel to the fire. It’s their loss.”

Their loss may be Gentile’s gain, given how often Cassara bumped heads with the councilman over bike lanes, most recently over a cycle path on Bay Ridge Parkway.

A Gentile staffer denied that Cassara was sacked over bike lanes — or any other specific cause — but simply because the councilman believed it was time for a change.

“It has nothing to do with removing anyone in particular,” said the spokeswoman, Dena Libner. “It’s about welcoming new members onto the board.”

Despite Libner’s use of the plural, Cassara — the most outspoken advocate of bike lanes on CB10 — was the only member to be dismissed.

He will be replaced by June Johnson, a cancer center volunteer, former CB10 member and member of the Bay Ridge Community Council. Curiously, she is state Sen. Marty Golden’s representative on the local Community Education Panel. Golden (R–Bay Ridge) is Gentile’s longtime area rival.

The specifics of the Cassara non-appointment remain unclear, but it wouldn’t be the first time that a prominent community board member was silenced for taking a strong position against the will of his political patron.

In 2007, Borough President Markowitz declined to reappoint 10 members of community boards near the Atlantic Yards mega-project after those board members opposed Markowitz’s beloved project.

At the time, Markowitz denied that he had purged anti-Yards members, saying also that he was seeking new blood.

Politics or not, Cassara’s fellow board members blasted Gentile for not reappointing the long-serving local.

“He was a very valuable board member,” said CB10 Chairwoman Joanna Seminara. “He’s the kind of member we need.”

Though denied his bully pulpit on the board, Cassara promised that he won’t fade away.

“I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “I’m not gonna stop fighting for the causes I believe in. Stay tuned.”

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Reader Feedback

Ted General from Bay Ridge says:
Safety first, Bob. You have to lead by example! Where's your bike helmet? Even Gersh has enough sense to ride with a helmet.
June 8, 2011, 11:36 am
Justin B. from Bay Ridge says:
If he was the kind of board member we needed, than why didn't Joanne Seminara keep him on the board?

She is the chair after all....

After all she was all for keeping on the board the likes of the three political stooges, Justy, Scotty, and Brian.

Joanne needs to go.
June 8, 2011, 1:42 pm
Mat from Marine Park says:
why can't there be an actual resident referendum, instead of giving absolute power to a Community Board? Not every responsible citizen has the time or inclination to be active on a CB. The census could have supplied each resident with a pin number to vote by internet, mail or at a local store that sells lottery tickets. No need for a drama or disruption.
June 8, 2011, 6:28 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
As much as some of you bike zealots are mad about this, that's how the system works. I know that Streetsblog will probably be calling this unfair as they would usually do on their website, and shout, "Off with her head!" for saying that. If she kept him, you guys wouldn't want to change the system. You guys only like the system when it serves you, and not the rest. It just shows how democracy can work both ways.
June 8, 2011, 10:57 pm
gail from Sunset says:
Not at all surprised, Seminara runs the board like the Nazis ran Germany, all the members are members of her club. No wonder Bay Ridge has rejected this woman as many times as they have. Gentile your dumb for getting in bed with this woman. Wait until 2013 when you will pay for the politicization for CB 10. What a sad bay for Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights.
June 8, 2011, 11:38 pm
Girl who knows how community boards work from Bay Ridge says:
People, community board chairs have no power over the appointment or reappointment of board members. Joanne Seminara had nothing to do with this. All board members are appointees of the borough presidents in consultation with council members who may offer recommendations for half the spots to the borough president who makes the final call.
And word on the street is that Bob Cassara was a perpetual line-crosser who behaved rudely to fellow board members and district staff on many occasions. I bet Cassara was dumped because of other reasons. Believe me, that guy is no martyr.
June 8, 2011, 11:55 pm
Ahab from Bay Rij says:
Yeah well when you live in a community of slovenly xenophobes what do you expect.

Also, we have the best cafes: At Caffe Cafe on 84th and 3rd we have (no action has been taken by board of health for a month now)..

http://a816-restaurantinspection.nyc.gov/RestaurantInspection/SearchDetails.do

Violation points: 37

Violations were cited in the following area(s).

Sanitary Violations
1) Cold food item held above 41º F (smoked fish and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 ºF) except during necessary preparation.
2) Appropriately scaled metal stem-type thermometer or thermocouple not provided or used to evaluate temperatures of potentially hazardous foods during cooking, cooling, reheating and holding.
3) Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility's food and/or non-food areas.
4) Wiping cloths soiled or not stored in sanitizing solution.
5) Facility not vermin proof. Harborage or conditions conducive to attracting vermin to the premises and/or allowing vermin to exist.
6) Pesticide use not in accordance with label or applicable laws. Prohibited chemical used/stored. Open bait station used.
7) Proper sanitization not provided for utensil ware washing operation.
8) Single service item reused, improperly stored, dispensed; not used when required.
June 9, 2011, 12:09 am
Judith from Bay Ridge says:
I heard Seminara has plenty of consultation on who gets appoint to the board.

After all there all members of her political club, Joanne the heat must be getting to you.
June 9, 2011, 2:12 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
First off, I thank the person who actually knows how the process works. If Bob Cassara actually kept his ego to himself sometimes, he wouldn't have been in the position he is in right now. Nobody was against his position on wanting bike lanes, they were against the attitude he displayed at board meetings. Other times, he really does need to take a chill pill and understand that he can't always get his way and force others to agree with them if they choose not to.
June 9, 2011, 5:41 pm
Boy who knows how community boards work from Bay Ridge says:
Judith you are so right while the councilman and boro president appoint the board members it is very naive to think that with this board Joanne has no power. Word on the street is that you have to join bay ridge democrats or in other words swear loyalty to the "witch" lobbyist Seminara in order to get the nod from her (vinny is her lap dog). To bad, Community Board Ten was one of the best in the city now it one of the worst thanks to the politicization of it by Seminara and crew.
June 9, 2011, 11:08 pm
?! from Dyker Heights says:
"CB 10 best in the city!?" Are you kidding me? This isn't the first time the Borough Prez or the Councilman have booted someone from the board because they didn't like what a member did/said/believed in. If anything, if they really wanted a fair and balanced community board, it would be 50 members of different cultures, ages, and from different parts of the local community.

Regardless, why should he get booted for actively voicing opinions that he firmly believes in? That's the whole point of a CB, RIGHT!? To bring about change and encourage educational discussions among members of our community!!!
June 14, 2011, 2:41 am

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