By Nathan Duke
Jerry Iannece easily won re-election as Community Board 11’s chairman this week, but a proposal by former state Assembly contender Bob Friedrich asking the board to condemn a controversial campaign flier which attacked him was met with more contention.
The board unanimously re-elected Iannece as its leader as well as reinstating its other officers during the board’s monthly meeting Monday.
But a fracas continued throughout the meeting after Friedrich, president of Glen Oaks Village, called on the board to pass a resolution that condemned a mailing sent out by Assemblyman-elect David Weprin’s campaign during a special election in early February.
The Weprin campaign flier accused Friedrich of being an extremist and featured a crime scene with a swastika behind police tape. Friedrich has claimed the mailing was an attempt to associate him with Nazi ideology, but Corey Bearak, Weprin’s former campaign manager, said the piece was used to illustrate Friedrich’s belief that hate crimes should be treated the same as other offenses not motivated by hate.
“The flier, which was approved by David Weprin, associated my name with a crime scene, attacking my character and defaming my reputation,” Friedrich told CB 11. “It sent out Nazi symbolism to Jewish homes. It exploited people’s pain for political gain. It must be condemned loud and clear by Community Board 11.”
But Iannece turned down Friedrich’s request to bring the resolution to a vote, arguing instead that the issue should go before a committee formed by the board.
“I don’t think this is something the community board should be taking up,” he said. “It’s a political tactic.”
Several community board members defended Iannece’s decision, but other members loudly voiced their disapproval throughout the course of the meeting.
Steven Newman, the board’s former chairman, backed Iannece’s response to the proposal.
“I agree that it should go to a committee, but I believe it should be heard,” he said.
Board members Frank Skala and Melvyn Meer both repeatedly called out for CB 11 to discuss the resolution.
“This is the intrusion of a hate symbol into the local area,” said Skala, who insinuated that Bearak, not Weprin, was the party responsible for the flier.
But Bearak, in a phone interview, defended the mailing, saying Friedrich “took positions that are out of sync with the community.”
“I think it was an inappropriate introduction of partisan maneuvering into a governmental setting,” he said. “If Bob had read the entire piece, it gives it the proper context. He opposes stronger penalties where the sole reason the person was hurt was because of their identity, whether it be race, gender, sexuality or religion.”
Last week, Friedrich had asked Community Board 13 to pass a similar resolution. That board has not yet taken any action on the proposal.
Weprin handily defeated Friedrich, a Democrat who ran as a Republican, in the special election to replace his brother, Mark Weprin, who now fills David Weprin’s former City Council seat.
The board also heard updated plans for a massive upgrading of the Oakland Lake and Ravine. The project, which began in December, will include five sites at the lake where sidewalks will be rebuilt, eroded curbs replaced, debris removed, gullies restored and trees and shrubs planted.
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-456.