CB 9 may revote on ouster

CB 9 may revote on ouster
Photo by Bianca Fortis
By Bianca Fortis

The decision on whether to remove longtime board member Sam Esposito from Community Board 9 amid accusations he made anti-Semitic remarks is not over.

Board Chairman James Coccovillo said in a statement Monday that he plans to include the issue again on the agenda for the board’s December meeting.

After conferring with officials from the borough president’s office, Coccovillo said the board ignored bylaws by failing to listen to the concerns of some of the board members.

The issue stems from an e-mail Esposito wrote in June in which he criticized board members Evelyn Baron, Wallace Bock and Jan Fenster for complaining about food he had purchased for a gathering. Esposito allegedly referred to the Jewish faith throughout the e-mail in a way that the three board members found to be offensive.

According to Esposito, the board members refused to eat food he ordered from a kosher deli because it was “not Kosher enough.” He called them ungrateful.

The three members subsequently asked for the removal of Esposito.

At the board meeting, which took place Nov. 12, there was some debate among board members about the proper rules of procedure.

Eventually 34 board members voted against Esposito’s removal and 10 voted in favor of it.

Immediately afterward, Bock stood up and resigned. Baron and Fenster left the meeting along with Bock without providing further comment.

Coccovillo, who voted to remove Esposito, said after the board’s November meeting that he would stand behind the board’s vote, although he planned to check with the borough president’s office to ensure that all procedures had been correctly followed.

According to Coccovillo, Bock, Baron and Fenster should have had an opportunity to state their case for the demand for removal of Esposito.

But board members decided to call the question and cut off debate prematurely.

He said he believes some board members would have voted differently if they had heard from Bock and the other members.

Esposito said he was not aware Coccovillo was pursuing the issue until a press release was distributed to the media via Twitter Monday night. Esposito said he and other board members were stunned.

He said members of the executive board have assured him that they will put a stop to the issue.

“The board is in chaos, obviously, but they’re not going to allow him to rehash this at the December meeting,” he said. “He’s grasping at straws to get anybody to agree with him to put this back on the agenda.”

Reach reporter Bianca Fortis by email at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4546.