A Crown Heights community board is looking to fill its most senior staff position for the first time since 2015, four years after a fateful decision to fire the last longtime employee to hold the spot setoff a series of lawsuits, which have left the position vacant ever since.
Community Board 9 started advertising the opening for a district manager position — which pays between $75,000 and 90,000 — earlier this year, seeking candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree, and three years of experience in government, public administration, or city-planning work.
District managers serve as a community board’s highest-ranking staffer, responsible for scheduling meetings, drafting resolutions, and communicating with city agencies on behalf of board members.
And — while the board’s unpaid, volunteer members may come and go — district managers often stay on the job for decades, mustering a degree of personal influence, and becoming institutional sources of neighborhood lore.
That’s in part due to the position’s enviable pay, and some Kings County district managers rake in well over six-figure salaries, including $122,777 for CB10 District Manager Josephine Beckman, $126,882 for CB1 District Manager Gerald Esposito, and $154,725 for CB18 District Manager Dorothy Turano in 2017.
Community Board 9’s former district manager, Pearl Miles, served the board for 30 years, but was canned in 2015 after CB9’s executive committee recommended members give her the boot.
Prior to firing Miles, however, recently elected Borough President Eric Adams allegedly told the board’s then Chairman Jacob Goldstein that Miles was too old for the position, and then threatened to kick him off the board if he tried to help Miles keep her job.
The spurned staffer filed a federal age-discrimination suit against Adams in 2016, which ended with both her and Goldstein walking away with “substantial settlements,” the former CB9 chairman said.
To replace Miles, the board in 2016 hired fellow member Carmen Martinez, who worked for the Comptroller’s office until she was fired for spending work time on personal projects in 2014, and was a member of Assemblyman Clarence Norman Jr.’s staff, until he was eventually convicted of violating campaign finance laws.
But Martinez’s reign as the board’s lead staffer was short lived, and local anti-gentrification advocate Alicia Boyd made quick work of the well-connected board member with a 2016 lawsuit that alleged improper hiring practices on the board’s part, and resulted in a judge barring her from working for more than a year, before removing her from the position altogether in 2017.
The job has been vacant ever since, a result of what Boyd described as infighting between factions within the board split over supporting Martinez’s rehiring, and elevating fellow member Simone Bennett to the high-paying position.
Boyd claims the board is only now moving forward with the hiring process, because Martinez has agreed not to seek the district manager spot, although she expressed concern that the board hasn’t properly advertised the position by failing to post it on the city’s job website, and that the group have only received seven resumes as a result.
Multiple messages left to the board’s current chairwoman, Patricia Baker, have not been returned.