Eighteen Groups Sign Open Letter Demanding Transparency over CB3 Removal of Committee Chairs
Eighteen community groups within Community Board 3 on the Lower East Side this week co-signed an open letter to city and state officials urging inquiry into the removal of Alexandra Militano and Carolyn Ratcliffe as chairs of the SLA and Arts & Culture subcommittees, respectively.
The shakeup, apparently inspired by a stated “new direction” for board leadership, spurred immediate condemnation from some fellow members and many in the community. At least one member resigned.
The letter details a six-point approach to restore transparency and accountability.
- Reinstate Militano so she can train the new SLA chair, Michelle Kuppersmith;
- Manhattan BP reviews the timing and circumstances of the demotions and publicizes findings;
- With adequate notice, CB3 hosts Q&A Public Session and assures residents’ questions are not prescreened or vetted, and they are permitted their allotted time to speak;
- A commitment by CB3 to adopt a policy, as a standard operating procedure, to publicly disclose any lobbying by, or negotiations with, the LES Partnership with the Board Chair, SLA Committee Chair, and District Office on licensing matters;
- CB3 commits to informing residents immediately of amended or corrected stipulations with SLA lawyers outside of the public purview. And, if resolutions are amended at the Full Board, the SLA Chair should publicize this information beforehand;
- That CB3 recommit to following the CB3 SLA policy posted on their website
With the missive, the eighteen block associations collectively stress that there is a post-pandemic opportunity to create economic inclusion, restore retail diversity, raise the quality of life standards for everyone, revitalize arts, and preserve cultural identity.
“My block association is deeply concerned about unchecked liquor license proliferation and its effect on our block,” said Stuart Zamsky, officer of the East Fifth Street Block Association. “The LES BID would tip the scale for landlords and usher in more licensing if they are involved in the CB3 process.”
Some see the “new direction” as a return to early-2000s days of handing out liquor licenses.
“Community Board 3’s focus on recovery cannot be a return to the failed economic development policy of licensing every storefront that turned our neighborhoods into Bourbon Street, ramped up displacement and reduced quality of life standards for large parts of the community,” LES Dwellers founder Diem Boyd said in a statement. “There must be the political will to explore revenue-producing options for the city other than the over-saturation of liquor licensing.”