Long-time community activist and bike lane advocate Bob Cassara has been booted from Community Board 10 after nearly 10 years, the only member of the panel who sought re-appointment but did not get it.
Insiders believe that Cassara was tossed by Councilman Vince Gentile because the two disagreed over new bike lanes — though the veteran board member wouldn’t go that far.
“Community boards are all about politics, so what can I say?” Cassara mused. “I don’t want to add fuel to the fire. It’s their loss.”
Their loss may be Gentile’s gain, given how often Cassara bumped heads with the councilman over bike lanes, most recently over a cycle path on Bay Ridge Parkway.
A Gentile staffer denied that Cassara was sacked over bike lanes — or any other specific cause — but simply because the councilman believed it was time for a change.
“It has nothing to do with removing anyone in particular,” said the spokeswoman, Dena Libner. “It’s about welcoming new members onto the board.”
Despite Libner’s use of the plural, Cassara — the most outspoken advocate of bike lanes on CB10 — was the only member to be dismissed.
He will be replaced by June Johnson, a cancer center volunteer, former CB10 member and member of the Bay Ridge Community Council. Curiously, she is state Sen. Marty Golden’s representative on the local Community Education Panel. Golden (R–Bay Ridge) is Gentile’s longtime area rival.
The specifics of the Cassara non-appointment remain unclear, but it wouldn’t be the first time that a prominent community board member was silenced for taking a strong position against the will of his political patron.
In 2007, Borough President Markowitz declined to reappoint 10 members of community boards near the Atlantic Yards mega-project after those board members opposed Markowitz’s beloved project.
At the time, Markowitz denied that he had purged anti-Yards members, saying also that he was seeking new blood.
Politics or not, Cassara’s fellow board members blasted Gentile for not reappointing the long-serving local.
“He was a very valuable board member,” said CB10 Chairwoman Joanna Seminara. “He’s the kind of member we need.”
Though denied his bully pulpit on the board, Cassara promised that he won’t fade away.
“I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “I’m not gonna stop fighting for the causes I believe in. Stay tuned.”
©2011 Community News Group
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