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Saturday, October 25, 2014

‘It’s racism,’ say critics of CB 8 vote

By Shant Shahrigian
Posted
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press

Community Board (CB) 8 has a new chairman whose first job upon assuming the position next month will be reuniting the bitterly divided body.

Some of the board’s members came to view the choice between Vice Chairwoman Maria Khury and Transportation Committee Chairman Dan Padernacht as a referendum on the board’s willingness to include minorities in the leadership.

In recent years, the vice chair has served as an incubator for future chairs. Supporters of Ms. Khury, who lost, say the break with tradition shows the board is not comfortable with one of the main points she made before the June 10 vote, that she would be the first Dominican woman to lead CB 8.

“This board is not willing to embrace the evolution of our country and city,” Ms. Khury said in an e-mail.

Supporter Amy Moore seconded Ms. Khury’s criticism.

“I think that there’s an old boys’ network that’s alive and well in the Bronx, especially in our community board, and the powers that be just couldn’t handle losing that control,” she said.

However, supporters of Mr. Padernacht insist he was simply the best person for the job and that prejudice had nothing to do with the 24-to-16 vote.

“I just find this attack on the integrity of the board offensive,” Land Use Committee Chairman Chuck Moerdler said after the ballot. “It affronts the whole board as a bunch of bigots, and it’s just not true.”

He pointed to previous Chairman Tony Cassino, who is partially Latino, as an example of diversity in CB 8’s leadership. Other board members said former Chairwoman June Eisland was a similar example.

Following Mr. Padernacht’s election, Mr. Moerdler proposed that CB 8 form a diversity committee with Ms. Khury as its leader. She later rejected the suggestion.

“Creating that committee only serves to acknowledge that we are biased and my hope is [to] continue serving on BXCB8 to unify and create awareness to the entire board, not in a vacuum isolated to a committee,” Ms. Khury wrote.

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