CB2 sets secret ‘emergency meeting’ amidst prolonged absences of chairwoman, top staffer

CB2 sets secret ‘emergency meeting’ amidst prolonged absences of chairwoman, top staffer
File photo by Vince DiMiceli

This civic panel is resorting to covert operations.

Community Board 2 is rudderless after the weeks-long, open-ended absences of its chairwoman and district manager, and lesser board leaders set a closed-door “emergency meeting” for next week that attendees are completely in the dark about.

“It did not specify what the meeting was about, but said we’d be told when we got there,” said a board member who on Friday received notice of the May 30 meeting, and spoke about it on the condition of anonymity.

The civic gurus’ original invitation went only to board members and prohibited the public from attending — a condition that would violate New York State laws that require holding an open meeting before calling a private session, according to a bigwig at the state-run Committee on Open Government.

But after this newspaper approached the board about its potentially illicit gathering on Monday, its leaders sent out a second invitation hours later, announcing a public meeting will precede their clandestine emergency gathering.

Board leaders set the meeting more than one month after CB2’s district manager Robert Perris — who has held the staff position for roughly 15 years and currently rakes in $107,309 annually from his taxpayer-funded salary — did not show up at an April 11 general meeting where he was scheduled to deliver a monthly report, beginning an extended absence that continued until press time.

Other board staffers repeatedly claimed Perris is simply “on vacation,” but could not answer multiple inquiries about his return date, and declined to comment further on his whereabouts.

And with board chairwoman Shirley McRae — who panel bylaws state must “supervise all members of the staff in the absence of the district manager” — out on sick leave from her volunteer post since before Perris stopped showing up, no one has steered the ship for the past six weeks.

The last time the panel overseeing Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Downtown, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and other areas staged a similar “emergency meeting” was in 2003, when it controversially booted out Perris’s predecessor and former district manager Olanike Alabi — who now holds the unpaid position of district leader — according to a long-time board member.

“The only one I specifically remember was back then,” said the civic guru, who described Perris’s lengthy absence as “unusual.”

News of the urgent gathering came weeks after the district attorney indicted the district manager of Community Board 6 for allegedly forging signatures on his and other staffers’ raises, a scam that could land the embattled employee behind bars for up to seven years, if convicted.

Perris did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.