A website passing itself off as the site for Astoria’s Community Board 1 is claiming its board members are out of touch with the community it serves.
“Cb1queens.org” is a parody website that at first glance can be mistaken to be the official website address for Community Board 1 with its “formal” design and information, but is not associated with the board. Amid the various claims, the website states the Community Board “is proud to represent the interests of business and property owners” and the only way to truly become a member is to “know somebody.”
Although requesting to remain anonymous, the website designer stressed through an email that everything on the website is true and mostly comes from the Community Board’s official website or actual quotes said by board members. The designer said no quotes are attributed to any board members to not seem like individuals were being picked on.
“The main purpose of the website is to highlight what the board says and does,” the designer said. “I’m sure many of them [board members] mean very well. The site isn’t vindictive. It’s humorous. But it’s only funny because it’s true.”
But for Lucille Hartmann, district manager of Community Board 1, and Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., this is no laughing matter.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion but the way it is being presented is underhanded,” said Hartmann. “They put their spin on it, that doesn’t mean that it’s right.”
Hartmann said the City Council is looking into the issue and that the recently added statement at the bottom of the website saying the site is “a parody and does not have any relation to any Community Board or governmental agency” does not suffice as a disclaimer.
As of Thursday, a message posted on the site said that it has temporarily been taken down due to “threat of legal action from the City of New York.”
Although Vallone has not seen the site himself, he looks down upon the creators who attack the Community Board online and says he wouldn’t dignify anything they say anonymously.
“I think it’s a shame that this very hardworking volunteer board can get attacked by anonymous cowards on the Internet,” he said. “Anyone who has a complaint should feel free to come to me or the Community Board and we would handle it like we do all complaints.”