The treasurer of the Mid-Queens Community Council has resigned and others are mulling an exit, following a heated spat with the group’s leader and a failed bid to overthrow her, The Queens Courier has learned.
“What happened was a disgrace,” said Jim DeBonet, who handled the council’s finances before his Tuesday departure. “This is it. Goodbye. I want nothing to do with this.”
The fuming Flushing Heights activist said the group’s president, Florence Fisher, should have stepped down after she penned a missive, without authority, “attacking” another civic leader in December.
The letter said Hillcrest Estates Civic Association President Kevin Forrestal, who works for the Health and Hospitals Corporation, had a conflict of interest regarding controversial T Building plans at Queens Hospital Center.
“Let me be clear about this,” Fisher wrote to a dozen local leaders. “[Kevin] does not represent the views of many of our delegates.”
That backfired when some board members said Fisher did not have board approval to mail the message.
“I found it shocking,” said Jim Gallagher Jr., the council’s first vice president. “I wasn’t told about the letter. None of it was mentioned.”
Still, eight members of the Mid-Queens Community Council, which represents 34 smaller organizations, voted to keep Fisher at the helm during an hour-long discussion Monday. DeBonet was the only dissenting vote, and three people abstained.
The internal battle stemmed from a misunderstanding, Fisher said.
“I have admired Kevin for forever,” she said. “He’s done wonderful, wonderful community work. We all wear lots of hats. It was nothing personal.”
Fisher, who has led the council for slightly more than a year, said she was unaware the group’s bylaws required a sign-off before sending.
“I’m the kind of person who likes to get things done when there are big issues out there,” she said. “I took it upon myself to write it, and I learned a lesson.”
Forrestal, who is not part of the council, shook off the letter, saying he has never cast an official T Building vote and always discloses his employment before speaking.
But the damage has been done to the shrinking volunteer organization, said Gallagher Jr., who is one of a few considering a leave.
“I was very disappointed with how the whole thing turned out,” he said. “It was sad, and that’s not what we’re all about.”