City needs boro presidencies

Frank Skala Bayside

Many people think the word “change” means “improvement.” The dictionary, however, gives the meaning of “change” as “difference,” which can be either positive or negative. Of course, constant change quickly turns into chaos, which is almost always negative.

On July 22, the New York Post published an editorial entitled “Nix the Beeps,” in which it referred to the borough presidents as “five jokes” and called for a City Charter change to eliminate those offices entirely or reduce them to one desk, cell phone and MetroCard each to supposedly “save” millions of dollars.

My letter to the Post later that day opposed its editorial as counter-productive in calling for the elimination of local residents' input on community issues through the borough presidents' offices. It was not published.

The Post's proposal is something also being proposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who, it seems, would like to end the borough presidents' roles in appointing members of community boards, our basic unit of representation, so future mayors could appoint all board members as rubber stamps or do away with them altogether.

As for saving money, it should be noted that under Bloomberg's leadership, city expenses have grown from $42 billion to $62 billion a year in the last seven years while the total for the borough presidents' offices added up to less than 1/1,000th of city expenses.

As a retired city teacher, a Community Board 11 member and president of the East Bayside Homeowners Association for 34 years, I think the borough presidents' powers should be expanded, with community boards having an absolute veto over proposals within their areas.

Borough presidents should have a similar absolute veto over something that passes a community board vote, which will prevent the objectionable development in local neighborhoods from ever reaching the city Board of Standards and Appeals or city government, which almost always decides counter to our wishes.