5 Questions with Chad Marlow on the Innerworkings and Alleged Corruption of CB3 [INTERVIEW]

Posted on: July 7th, 2015 at 9:22 am by

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Chad Marlow vs. Gigi Li, June 2014

After publishing the second installment of Erin Harvey’s op-ed examining the relationship between Sheldon Silver and Community Board 3, we thought it prudent to field a response from Gigi Li’s opponent in the 2014 chairperson election, board member Chad Marlow. Below are some choice excerpts from our interview.

Bowery Boogie: Harvey’s piece opines that former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver exercises powerful influence over CB3 leadership. Did you see that during your campaign for Chair last year?

Chad Marlow: Without a doubt. Gigi Li would have lost the election last year if Silver hadn’t delivered his “Grand Street” voting block lock, stock and barrel. Had that group voted for me instead, I would have won. In fact, one member of that group told me that he had intended to vote for me in the election, but once Silver’s people found out, they overtly threatened to deprive one of his children of future employment opportunities if he voted for me or even abstained in the election. The member apologized profusely to me for voting for Gigi but said he had no choice. I understand. I wouldn’t put a vote ahead of my kids either. That’s what we were dealing with.

BB: Do you think Ayo Harrington was too aggressive by calling out Gigi Li for not appointing any Black or Latino chairs for her first two years in office?

CM: (Laughs) That’s the funny thing about that whole story. Most people don’t realize that, if anything, Ayo held back. We (the people opposing Gigi for CB3 chair in 2014) all knew that she had not only failed to appoint any Black or Latino chairs, but that she hadn’t appointed any Jewish chairs either. Ayo could have added that to her public complaint, but did not, even though it would have provided more sting. I think Ayo made that choice because, for decades, she has been a champion of communities of color. But perhaps she believed other people on the board were more appropriate spokespeople for the Jewish community. That’s just my guess. Gigi knew it, too, by the way. That’s why she appointed her first Jewish chair right after Ayo made her allegations.

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Ayo Harrington and CM Rosie Mendez, Photo: GVSHP

BB: So, are you alleging that Gigi Li is racist and anti-Semitic?

CM: That’s not the right question to ask. I don’t know Gigi nearly well enough to make such a judgment about her. The right question to ask in situations like that is “were the actions taken racist and anti-Semitic?” That allows you to look solely at the actions, not the person, and make a reasonable judgment. If Jeb Bush was elected President, and for two years, he didn’t appoint any Blacks, Latinos or Jews to his cabinet, would you say those actions were racist and Anti-Semitic? Yes, you would. If Hillary Clinton was elected President, and for two years, she didn’t appoint any Blacks, Latinos or Jews to her cabinet, would you say those actions were racist and Anti-Semitic? You’d better, or you’d be guilty of having a double standard. Same goes for Gigi. The actions were racist and anti-Semitic, but I have no comment beyond that.

BB: Harvey also alleges that Gigi Li takes her marching orders as CB3 Chair from Sheldon Silver, Susan Stetzer, and a small group of other CB3 leaders. Do you agree?

CM: Yes.

BB: Gigi Li promised significant reforms to CB3 if reelected Chair, do you think she delivered? Was this last year better for her than the previous one?

CM: To be honest, my opinion of Gigi’s performance doesn’t really matter all that much. Who am I? I’m just one of 50 members on that board. I will say this; if you want to judge how Gigi did this past year, look at the data. Data doesn’t lie. Last year, CB3 lost more than 25% of its board members. Almost 50% of those who were eligible to re-apply did not. Those are astounding numbers. CB3 is bleeding members and the talent loss is devastating for our community. I understand what happened. It is often painful to serve as part of CB3. If I didn’t care so much about my community and my kids, I would have quit, too. I cannot imagine any other non-profit CEO who could suffer those kind of year-over-year board losses and not be fired, but because of the way Shelly and Margaret Chin have set things up, she cannot be beaten in an election, so instead of being replaced, she gets re-elected without a challenge.

Ain’t democracy grand?

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Sheldon Silver’s puppet show, Photo: Art Y.R. Minor

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