Letter battle turns to Board 8 dispute
By Adam Wisnieski
The fierce political battle that has been brewing on the letter pages of The Riverdale Press over the last few weeks, spilled over into a meeting of the Community Board’s Laws, Rules & Ethics Committee on Feb. 28.
In a letter to the Press three weeks ago, Damian McShane, a past board chair and current member, accused CB 8’s Aging chair and City Council candidate Andrew Cohen of impropriety for accepting a donation from the CEO of the Hebrew Home, which seeks to rezone part of its property and build a new facility.
After keeping a relatively low profile on the board since his tenure as chair ended in 2011, Mr. McShane, who did not reapply as a member, is not walking away quietly from the board he’s served for 14 years.
“I did mean to ruffle some feathers, I’m not going to lie,” he said at last week’s meeting.
Mr. McShane argued that Mr. Cohen violated the public’s trust by accepting a $500 donation from Daniel Reingold, CEO of the Hebrew Home. He also claimed Mr. Cohen had violated the board’s bylaws by speaking on its behalf without the chair’s permission.
Mr. McShane and Mr. Cohen’s rival candidate Cliff Stanton have argued that Mr. Cohen misused his power as chair of the Aging Committee by attending town hall meetings sponsored by Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz. They argue that Mr. Cohen’s main reason for visiting the senior centers was to raise his profile for office. It is against CB 8’s bylaws to speak on behalf of the board without permission from the board chair, but it is not against the bylaws to have community board services listed as a credential.
Mr. Cohen argued that there was no conflict with him taking the money because the Hebrew Home does not yet have an application before the board. He also said he was not speaking on the board’s behalf when he addressed citizens about aging issues and that there’s nothing political about his committee.
“I think we’re doing the best we can to try to keep the City Council campaign out of [the Aging Committee],” Mr. Cohen said.
The committee came to a consensus that Mr. Cohen had done nothing wrong. Toward the end of the meeting, Mr. McShane spoke directly to Mr. Cohen.
KeywordsCommunity Board 8 Laws, Rules & Ethics Committee, Hebrew Home, CB 8’s Aging chair and City Council, The Riverdale Press, Damian McShane