A Bensonhurst legislator forced his will on Community Board 12 when he encouraged members to vote in a Chasidic resident who is not eligible for the post, say stunned board attendees who believe Councilman David Greenfield overstepped his bounds.
CB12 elected newcomer Yidel Perlstein as chairman on March 27, ousting current Board leader Alan Dubrow, after Greenfield demanded Perlstein be considered for the job, stressing how the panel that represents Borough Park, Midwood, Kensington, and Bensonhurst should represent “the majority,” meaning Orthodox and Chasidic Jewish residents.
“The democratic system works when we listen to the majority,” Greenfield told CB12. “When we do not listen to the majority, the democratic system breaks down.”
Board members were surprised by Greenfield’s aggressiveness in getting Perlstein elected.
“Never in the history of this community board, or in any board in New York City, as far as I know, did any elected official push or intimidate like this to get anyone to become chairman,” said a source close to the board.
Dubrow, citing board bylaws, said Perlstein could not be CB12 chairman since he joined the advisory panel last June and had not been a board member long enough to be chairman.
According to CB12’s bylaws, one can only be elected chairman if he had served the board “for the prior calendar year.”
Armed with a decision from city attorney Steven Goulden, Dubrow claimed that a contender for chairman must have served the Board for an entire year — not just part of one — which would remove Perlstein from contention in this year’s elections, which are normally held in March.
Yet Greenfield, who appointed several CB12 members — but cannot vote — vehemently disagreed with Dubrow’s interpretation of the bylaws. Apparently eager to make Perlstein CB12’s first Chasidic chairman, Greenfield, an Orthdox Jew, continued to persist, demanding a full board vote on Perlstein’s eligibility.
Dubrow, who is Jewish, but not Orthodox, refused Greenfield’s request and ruled the councilman out of order.
Greenfield responded quickly, paraphrasing Al Pacino from “And Justice For All.”
“You’re out of order,” the Councilman told Dubrow.
Greenfield then presented his own legal opinion on CB12’s bylaws — which also came from Goulden — stating that someone can call for a full board vote when a chairman’s decision is challenged. Goulden declined to comment for this story.
The board ultimately allowed Perlstein to run for chairman with a vote of 26–16. CB12 then voted 28–14 to make him chairman.
Named victor, Perlstein thanked Dubrow for his many years of service.
“You left me some big shoes to fill,” Perlstein said.
Anna Cali, chairwoman of CB12’s Education, Library, and Community Affairs Committee, was excited about the new chairman.
“It’s time for change. It’s been the same people for years,” said Cali. “We need people to work together, and I think that’s what Yidel stands for.”
Board member Vincent Fiordimondo was also upbeat.
“This will now be a ‘community board’ in the true sense of the word,” Fiordimondo said.
Councilman Greenfield congratulated Perlstein in his own way — in a press release — claiming that he was pleased that “democracy prevailed.”
“The board was able to have a fair and open election for community board chair,” Greenfield said.