Koppell dumps community board housing chair
By Adam Wisnieski
Tom Durham, chair of Community Board 8’s Housing committee, has not been reappointed to the board that he has served on for six years.
Councilman Oliver Koppell would not say why he urged the borough president’s office not to reappoint Mr. Durham. But Mr. Durham said he thinks it stems back to a single vote he made last year.
Community board appointments, all for two-year terms, are made by the borough president’s office, though local elected officials often give their input.
Last year, Mr. Durham was a member of the committee that nominates members to various posts. He said he voted for Maria Khury as vice chair and that Mr. Koppell called him to say that the councilman favored Steve Froot for the position. Mr. Durham said he felt the call amounted to inappropriate pressure.
“I basically hung up on him. He was just really over the top, very nasty, very crude and I just said, ‘Wow.’ I was more shocked than anything,” Mr. Durham said.
Mr. Durham said Mr. Koppell claimed it would be in his best interest to change his vote.
Mr. Koppell, however, denied that he made any allusion to his power over board reappointments and also said he did not think it was improper to have called members of the nominating committee.
Mr. Durham said he thought Ms. Khury — the ultimate winner — was the best candidate for the community and that he voted accordingly and was punished.
“I don’t yield to pressure which other people yield to. I try to do what I think is best for the community,” he said, adding that, “You have to be a butt kisser to be on this board, I guess.”
Mr. Koppell said he would not comment on why he didn’t recommend Mr. Durham’s reappointment but he said he was happy with his new nominations.
“I nominate the ones I think will best represent the community and I’m comfortable with. I try to have a variety. I try to have people of different backgrounds … people of different interests,” he said.