Exiting angry at CB10

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The removal of a long-time member had caused a bit of a ruckus at Community Board 10.

Harriet Rosenberg, who had served on the board for 25 years, had her application for reappointment to the voluntary, non-salaried position turned down by City Councilmember Vincent Gentile this spring, raising questions as to his motivation.

Gentile appointed three new members – Heather McCown, Salvatore Girgenti, and Habib Joudeh — to fill the openings left by Rosenberg’s unwilling departure as well as by the retirement of Brian Kassenbrock and Craig Eaton from the board. Neither Kassenbrock nor Eaton had asked to be reappointed.

At the board’s June meeting, which was held in the community room at Shore Hill, 9000 Shore Road, Rosenberg said goodbye to members and expressed her anger at being refused a spot on the board.

“I was surprised and saddened to have been removed, retired, dismissed from the board by Councilman Gentile,” Rosenberg pointedly told the group.

Perhaps referring to the prior enforced retirements of Frances Loftus, Louise Riso and Gloria Melnick, all of whom were not reappointed by Gentile in 2007, Rosenberg said, “There seems to be a pattern of discrimination of senior women emerging.

“While I may be a senior member, I have been an active, productive and involved member of this board,” Rosenberg went on. “I worked tirelessly and passionately for the past 25 years.

“It is with a very heavy heart that I bid you adieu, goodnight and goodbye,” she concluded.

Rosenberg, who got a standing ovation from board members, was not the only person to express regret at her departure from the board.

Local activist Rosemarie O’Keefe, the former commissioner of the mayor’s Community Assistance Unit, told the board, “Harriet is one of the finest community people I’ve ever met. I’m so sorry she will be leaving the board. She will be sorely missed.”

Dean Rasinya, the board’s chair, concurred. “I have known Harriet for over 30 years and in all that time she has remained an educator, a hard-working person who always tries to help others and a lady who leads by example,” he told the group.

Some suggested that the specter of political retribution had shown itself in Rosenberg’s axing. She had been one of several board members to vote for Eleanor Schiano over Rasinya for the chair’s position not to be reappointed. Gentile had supported Rasinya’s successful candidacy for that post, which he won by a narrow margin.

But, Gentile denied having any ulterior motives in his decision not to reappoint Rosenberg. Calling her speech, “orchestrated and staged,” he told this paper that he had “rotated” her off the board for one reason only – to make room for new appointees.

“Frankly, as I’ve said over and over again, there are people who are waiting to get onto the community board,” Gentile explained. “They should have a chance to serve. The unintended consequence of term limits is that you can no longer keep someone waiting eight or nine years to be put onto the community board. You’ve got to move more quickly to get people on.

Updated 3:45 pm, October 19, 2011
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