By Tom Momberg
Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens) was given his City Council committee assignments this week and has selected community advocate and attorney Steve Behar as one of his top aides.
Grodenchik, who was sworn in Nov. 28, has been appointed to the committees on courts, general welfare, housing and buildings, juvenile justice, mental health and technology.
The councilman said he was particularly looking forward to working on the committee on mental health, considering one of the city’s largest mental health facilities, the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, is in his district in Queens Village.
After taking part in just a couple of stated meetings, Grodenchik threw a compliment to the council speaker while addressing a community board meeting this week, suggesting his new elected position will truly allow him to serve the people of Queens.
“My speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito conducts a much quicker meeting than had been done in the past, and that’s good, because I don’t have to spend a lot of time in Manhattan,” Grodenchik said. “I would rather be out here among my constituents.”
The councilman reopened the same district office used by his predecessor, Mark Weprin. The office, at 73-03 Bell Blvd., Suite 1N, in Oakland Gardens, is open for constituent services. To contact Grodenchik, who represents Bayside Hills, Oakland Gardens, Glen Oaks, Floral Park, New Hyde Park, Bellerose and parts of Little Neck and Queens Village, email bgrod
Steve Behar, who served as Grodenchik’s campaign manager in his run for office in the off-year election, announced his resignation from Community Board 11 Monday night, to serve as counsel to the councilman.
Behar ran unsuccessfully in 2009 for the seat which is now held by Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside). He also served on CB 11 for about six years and once served as an advising attorney to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
“I am going to miss being a member of this board. Over these six years, we have given input on a lot of issues to elected officials and city agencies,” Behar said. “This is really democracy at work. We represent the community and we speak for the community.”
Behar was remorseful in announcing his resignation, but said just as the community board works on the ground level to improve the quality of life in northeast Queens, he can do more in his new position in the City Council.
Referring to the School Construction Authority’s reversal of a plan to purchase the Bayside Jewish Center to build a new high school, Behar said he is leaving the community board on a positive note.
“We helped stop a school from going into a place where it shouldn’t be. We fought something we were told was a done deal. But it was bad for our community, so we came out and fought it, and we won,” Behar said. “I will still be here (at the meetings), but I will be representing the council member.”
Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomb