By Matthew Monks
Twenty-four people applied for the post. The winner was selected during a closed executive session from a final pool of three – Italiano, local activist Wayne Mahlke and Queens resident Richard Rosas, who was not further identified. During the session, the board had the opportunity to query each finalist before making a decision. “I think all of them would bring something different to the position in a positive way,” acting Chairman Louis Walker said in an interview last week. The board settled on Italiano, who has served on the board for four years and retired from his position as chairman in February to pursue the district manager post. Italiano could not be reached for comment as of press time. The board has been in a power struggle since the death in January of District Manager Rose Rothchild, who served in the post for 18 years. “The unexpected death of the district manager obviously caused a void,” Walker said. A small faction of members staged a protest in February against the board's longstanding executive committee on charges that it ignores CB 4 bylaws governing elections, which have been suspended since 1998.The protesters charged that the body's direction was under the control of a small group of members who refused to relinquish control. At last month's meeting, a small minority pushed to narrow the field of potential district managers down to five rather than three candidates to ensure that they reflected the diversity of the three neighborhoods covered by CB 4 – Corona, Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst – that have emerged as mostly Hispanic in recent years. Their motion was soundly defeated. Also at that meeting, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall addressed the recent controversy, telling board members that they needed to rework CB 4 bylaws governing elections and fix their day-to-day operations after hiring a new district manager. She said the board also must restructure its committees, hire two part time staffers and move its offices to a handicapped facility. Walker said the new district manager at the helm of the board would start implementing her suggestions. “The way things were done in the past doesn't mean that's the way it's going to be done now,” Walker said. “There will be some changes.”Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.