MAGGIE HAYES AND TERENCE M. CULLEN
Community Board (CB) 9 has grown infamous for its internal disagreements, leaving some members to wonder about oversight and to question whether they should seek help.
The borough president’s office oversees Queens’ 14 community boards. The question now is whether newly-elected Borough President Melinda Katz and her staff will amend the issues.
District Manager Mary Ann Carey said the borough president has recently called several board members in for interviews, including herself last week, regarding “everything,” but declined to specify what was discussed.
From September to November of last year, about 15 to 20 board members were “strongly discussing” having the borough president’s office intervene, but instead decided to “let it be” and “wait it out,” said an anonymous board source, who asked not to be named in fear of retribution.
“There has certainly been a lot of dissent regarding leadership,” the source said.
Now, the source “certainly hopes” Katz will intervene.
Another ranking board member, who asked not to be named, said the borough president’s office was aware of the problems with the board from local news coverage. Discussing matters of personnel issues with the press, however, would be inappropriate, the source said.
Katz’s office declined to comment. Katz oversaw community boards for three years when working for former Borough President Clare Shulman.
Last August, Carey was placed on six months’ probation after a battle with the board’s executive committee, which nearly ousted her in June of the position she has held for 30 years.
Board member Sam Esposito defended Carey and said that Chairperson Jim Coccovillo “restlessly continued on his quest to harass and intimidate the staff.”
“Plenty of people were ready to boot him as chair if he tried to kick Sam off the board again,” said another member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Coccovillo was absent from the January meeting, and Carey revealed the chair had given her a performance report, in which she failed every category.
She then alleged that she and her staff work under stressful conditions because Coccovillo was always watching over their shoulder, and that he subjected them to “harassment.”
Coccovillo could not be reached for comment.
In March, CB 9 will have a vote for new leadership. Multiple sources said there is no chance Coccovillo will be reelected.
“I think we need a change in both the leadership and the office staff,” one source said.