Community boards across the borough are crossing their fingers and hoping for the best this week now that Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced the members of the new Charter Revision Commission.
Four Brooklynites, including Borough President Marty Markowitz’s Chief of Staff Carlo Scissura, number among the commission’s fifteen members.
“Carlo comes from the community board and understands – he knows exactly what we do,” Community Board 11 District Manager Marnee Elias-Pavia told this newspaper.
Prior to becoming Markowitz’s chief of staff, Scissura served as a member of Community Board 11 in Bensonhurst, as well as vice-president of Community School Board 20.
The newly assembled Charter Revision Commission is expected to convene for the first time within the next two weeks to hammer out its agenda.
Public hearings in each of the five borough will follow soon after.
Officials say it’s still too early to determine the direction this Charter Revision Commission will take, but the group’s recommendations could impact the future of the public advocate, borough presidents and community boards.
“We have [former] community board members serving on [the commission] so hopefully that will bode well for us,” Community Board 6 District Manager Craig Hammerman said.
Their budgets already slashed to the bone, some fear that the mayor will try and use this opportunity to curtail the influence of community boards or even eliminate them.
“There’s going to be a fight on our hands,” warned Theresa Scavo, chairperson of Board 15 in Manhattan Beach.
Commenting on land use issues as part of the official Uniform Land Use Review Procedure remains one of the most vital roles that community boards perform.
Their role is only advisory, but without it, many believe communities would have even less of a voice ingovernment than they do now.
“Carlo Scissura understands community boards and we expect him to be very supportive of community board issues going down the road,” said Alvin Berk, chairperson of Community Board 14 in Midwood.
Scissura said this week that he is going into the Charter Revision Commission process with and open mind and an ear for what people are saying.
“I have never heard from the mayor’s office that they want to strip land use [from community boards],” Scissura said. “Community boards play a very valuable role in the ULURP process.”
The other Brooklynites serving on the new Charter Revision Commission include John H. Banks, vice president for Government Relations at Con Edison.Anthony Crowell, counsel to the mayor and David Chen, executive director of the Chinese-American Planning Council, Inc.
Dr. Matthew Goldstein, chancellor of the City University of New York, is chairing the commission.
“If they take land use away from us who’s going to be responsible,” Scavo said. “Where would you have the public hearing? People are not going to travel to the city.”
The commission’s recommendations could appear on the ballot in November.