By —Gary Buiso
Volunteering as a member of Community Board 6 just isn’t worth the effort, according to recently resigned, and always outspoken, member Howard Graubard. In a letter to the board, Graubard, an attorney, said, “After nearly three years as a member, I have come to the reluctant conclusion that useful accomplishment at Board 6, even when possible, usually requires heroic expenditures of effort grossly out of proportion to the benefits such effort yields.” “Sometimes I feel like an unwitting shill at a game of three-card monte, as if my mere presence counterproductively helped to create the false impression that the board is a real deliberative body, thus conveying its proceedings a legitimacy they’ve rarely deserved in recent years.” “But that’s not my real issue; at other points in my life I would not have tired of rising to such challenges, and I hope I feel that way again in the not-too-distant future. However, at this particular juncture, I rarely, if ever, find that an evening spent on board business yields rewards which justify forsaking spending the equivalent amount of time with my wife and son,” he wrote. “I would come home from a meeting so frustrated and my wife would look at me and say, ‘Was that worth spending time away from your son?’” Graubard said in an interview. “You know what,” he continued,” the answer is ‘no.’” Asked about Jerry Armer, the board’s chair, Graubard said, “He seems to be an extremely effective board chair: Everything he says, goes.” In his letter, Graubard said there exists a “disturbing tendency by the board’s leadership, in an often arbitrary and capricious manner, to successfully suppress public discussion about all manner of topics, using a variety of tactics, giving “short shrift to important issues within this community.” “I am very proud that during my tenure on the board I was able to use my position as a board member to get the district attorney to make a statement which was directly responsible for causing a local community organization to cease publicizing the secret location of a domestic violence shelter. I note that, even during that controversy, which was truly a ‘no-brainer’, I found the conduct of the board’s leadership to be disappointing much of the time,” he wrote. Graubard said the a resolution he proposed that would condemn those who publicly revealing the address of the shelter was sent to a committee hearing, but never received a hearing. “But we’ve had a hearing about the presidential nominating process,” he noted. Asked about Graubard’s letter, Armer had this to say: “Howard has opted, at this point of his life, to spend more time with his family.” “Between his family, his civic work, outreach and activism, it’s one of the best time’s of his life,” Armer added. Asked for a specific reaction to criticism of the board’s leadership, Armer disagreed with idea that he, or a small clique runs the show, saying that a multiplicity of voices are welcome and routinely heard. Graubard, for example, was recently appointed to the board’s Land Use/Landmarks Committee. “We have new members appointed to committees, and they are not always in agreement with the rest of the committee,” Armer said.