Community Board 12 Chairman Yidel Perlstein — the board’s first Chasidic leader who was elected into office last month amid questions over his eligibility — said he wants to be the people’s chairman and push the board to interact more directly with all the communities it represents, from Borough Park and Bensonhurst to Midwood and Kensington.
“I want the board to be much more involved than before,” Perlstein told the board during his first meeting as chairman on April 24. “I intend on being a very active and be in the office every day.”
Perlstein unseated 19-year Board chairman Alex Dubrow in March, despite claims that he hadn’t been a board member long enough to lead. The panel’s bylaws stipulate that a board members with a year or more on the attendance rolls can be elected chairman, but Perlstein has only been a board member for nine months.
Questions about Perlstein’s eligibility sparked an intense exchange between Dubrow and Councilman David Greenfield (D—Bensonhurst), who, armed with a legal interpretation of the bylaws that said the Chasidic board member could run, convinced the board to vote on Perlstein’s eligibility. Greenfield, who has the power to put people on the community board, but cannot vote, then encouraged the panel to elect him chairman.
Board attendees were stunned by Greenfield’s determination in getting Perlstein elected, calling it an unprecedented act of intimidation by an elected official.
Perlstein won the election by a 28–14 margin.
Greenfield wasn’t at last week’s meeting. Neither was any of the tension felt before the vote.
Instead, board members praised Perlstein, who said he wanted board members to be more involved in the community.
“He wants to get his hands wet and I think he’ll do a good job,” said CB12 member Joe Jacobs.
Aaron Tyk, a 20-year veteran of CB12, was even more enthusiastic about Perlstein’s reign.
“He did a crackerjack job,” said Tyk. “Even before the meeting, he reached out personally to every one of the board members. We wanted to be a more active board, and under his leadership, we will be more active, which is an improvement.”