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CB 9 district manager says chair harasses staff

Photo by Sarina Trangle
By Sarina Trangle

District Manager Mary Ann Carey announced at the Jan. 14 Community Board 9 meeting that she felt harassed by the board chairman following a poor performance review and had contacted her union.

Carey said CB 9 Chairman James Coccovillo presented her with an evaluation that indicated she was failing in all listed categories.

“I’m not going to go into the reading of the categories, but they talk about I do not meet the standards, I don’t oversee the budgets, there’s a whole slew, a whole report here,” she said. “I didn’t sign it and I don’t agree with it.”

The district manager went on to say she and other CB 9 staff think Coccovillo has created a stressful work environment.

“He sits in the office. We can’t get our work done. We feel threatened … it’s getting to the point where it’s really a problem,” Carey said. “He says something to me and then when I talk to him about it, he’ll say, ‘No, I never said that.’”

Coccovillo, who was not at the meeting because of a health-related matter, wrote in an email that he was not aware of any complaints made against him by office staff.

“It is an internal CB 9 board matter,” Coccovillo said. “The act of addressing internal issues in a public forum is unprofessional and damaging to the integrity of the board and needs to be addressed by the borough president’s office.”

Carey said she had contacted representatives from her union and was awaiting a response.

“I have sat back and tried not to bring this to the public’s attention,” she said. “But it’s not fair because we’ve worked here a long time, all of us.”

CB 9 minutes show the board entered into an executive session at its June meeting to discuss Carey. Of the 46 members present, 42 voted in favor of putting her on a six-month probation period with an evaluation system and training.

During the September CB 9 meeting, Coccovillo announced the board had established an ad hoc committee to clarify the district manager’s responsibilities, according to meeting minutes. The chairman said Carey was evaluated Aug. 29 and placed on a probation period, effective Aug. 30. The minutes state Carey was slated to receive a review in three months.

John Carter explained that the ad hoc committee had created a job description and an evaluation tool for the district manager position, but would not be responsible for doing the performance review.

According to meeting minutes, Carey said in September that she felt the ad hoc committee’s guidelines were “very fair.”

CB 9 First Vice Chairman Ivan Mrakovcic, who ran the recent CB 9 meeting in the chairman’s absence, advised Carey to try to keep personnel matters private.

“I have conversations with James also and, sometimes, he’s a better talker than a listener,” Mrakovcic said. “We would have operated much smoother at the tail end of last year had we kept … personal employee matters out of the public realm.”

This winter, CB 9 voted to retain Sam Esposito, a longtime member, after he was accused of making anti-Semitic remarks to three board members.

The three board members requested Esposito’s removal after they said he sent an e-mail criticizing them for complaining that food served at a meeting was “not kosher enough.”

Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at strangle@cnglocal.com.

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