Tag Archives: jim debonet

Mid-Queens Council meltdown prompts resignation


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook

The treasurer of the Mid-Queens Community Council has resigned and others are mulling an exit, following a heated spat with the group’s leader and a failed bid to overthrow her, The Queens Courier has learned.

“What happened was a disgrace,” said Jim DeBonet, who handled the council’s finances before his Tuesday departure. “This is it. Goodbye. I want nothing to do with this.”

The fuming Flushing Heights activist said the group’s president, Florence Fisher, should have stepped down after she penned a missive, without authority, “attacking” another civic leader in December.

The letter said Hillcrest Estates Civic Association President Kevin Forrestal, who works for the Health and Hospitals Corporation, had a conflict of interest regarding controversial T Building plans at Queens Hospital Center.

“Let me be clear about this,” Fisher wrote to a dozen local leaders. “[Kevin] does not represent the views of many of our delegates.”

That backfired when some board members said Fisher did not have board approval to mail the message.

“I found it shocking,” said Jim Gallagher Jr., the council’s first vice president. “I wasn’t told about the letter. None of it was mentioned.”

Still, eight members of the Mid-Queens Community Council, which represents 34 smaller organizations, voted to keep Fisher at the helm during an hour-long discussion Monday. DeBonet was the only dissenting vote, and three people abstained.

The internal battle stemmed from a misunderstanding, Fisher said.

“I have admired Kevin for forever,” she said. “He’s done wonderful, wonderful community work. We all wear lots of hats. It was nothing personal.”

Fisher, who has led the council for slightly more than a year, said she was unaware the group’s bylaws required a sign-off before sending.

“I’m the kind of person who likes to get things done when there are big issues out there,” she said. “I took it upon myself to write it, and I learned a lesson.”

Forrestal, who is not part of the council, shook off the letter, saying he has never cast an official T Building vote and always discloses his employment before speaking.

But the damage has been done to the shrinking volunteer organization, said Gallagher Jr., who is one of a few considering a leave.

“I was very disappointed with how the whole thing turned out,” he said. “It was sad, and that’s not what we’re all about.”

 

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Precinct helps ease parking problem outside Fresh Meadows school


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Police have stepped in to ease a daily parking problem outside a Fresh Meadows school that has frustrated parents and put students at risk for at least a year.

Parents dropping off their kids at P.S. 173 have been double parking and blocking the school bus stop during the morning rush about 8 a.m., residents said.

“Sometimes they’ll let the kids out in the middle of the street and have the kids run across to get into school,” said Jim Gallagher Jr., president of the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association.

At times, students are also left stranded in the middle of the road until traffic clears, said former PTA President Alan Ong.

The “No Standing” street on 67th Avenue gets backed up with at least 15 cars at a time, according to Gallagher.

Short-tempered parents have cursed and threatened volunteer parents who try to move traffic along, residents said.

“It’s a dangerous situation,” said John Callari, a nearby resident. “I almost got run over one morning when my wife and I were taking our grandchildren to school.”

Two traffic safety cops at the 107th Precinct have been easing congestion at the school for about half an hour every day, for the last two weeks.

They will continue “as long as resources are there,” a community affairs officer at the precinct said.

Summonses have been issued to illegally parked drivers in the past, but the precinct wants their main goal to be making sure parents understand the danger.

“We’re trying to work with everybody to educate motorists,” the officer said. “Keeping the kids safe is always the priority.”

The school has more than 900 students, from kindergarten through fifth grade, said Ong, who is now a member of Community District Education Council 26.

The Department of Education did not comment.

“Many other schools in the city are experiencing the same problem,” Ong said. “We need to somehow, someway bring awareness to parents. The last thing we want is an accident.”

 

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