CB9 Board Member Might be Ousted for Alleged Anti-Semitic Remarks
QUEENS — A member of Community Board 9, which represents Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill, Woodhaven and Ozone Park, is facing the boot after allegedly directing anti-Semitic remarks at other board members over the summer.
Sam Esposito, who has represented Ozone Park on the board since 1988, claims the remarks were not anti-Semitic and were only intended as a criticism of three board members — Evelyn Baron, Wallace Bock and Jan Fenster — for complaining about being served inappropriate food during a meeting in June.
The members, according to an email that Esposito sent them after the meeting, said that the food served before the board’s meeting was not “Kosher enough.”
Esposito wrote that the three board members were “acting like little children that did not get their way at the playground calling daddy on the phone complaining."
According to the email, one of the board members called Rabbi Daniel Pollack, also a board member, to complain that they had nothing to eat.
They also blamed CB9's staff members for ordering food that they were not able to eat, according to the email.
Esposito wrote that they were “ungrateful, selfish, ill-mannered, demanding, unthankful … juvenile, impolite, ungracious, rude.”
“After seeing what I saw at the meeting, if that is what being Jewish is all about, I would rather be atheist because I was raised proper with respect and much different than you three,” he wrote.
After receiving the email, Bock sent a letter to CB9 Chairman James Coccovillo, calling Esposito's email a "vicious anti-Semitic diatribe against the religion which I practice," and asking for his removal. Baron and Fenster also signed the request, which is scheduled to be discussed Tuesday night.
On Monday, Esposito told DNAinfo that he was sure he was not going to be voted off the board.
Esposito also said the attempt to remove him from the board is in retaliation for his support for District Manager Mary Ann Carey. Coccovillo and the executive board wanted to remove Carey last June, Esposito said, but the board eventually voted to place Carey on probation.
Coccovillo, who has had public disagreements with Esposito in the past, said in an email Monday that he had "no comment at this time," but he added that he hopes the public “will see one thing has nothing to do with the other,” referring to Esposito's email to the other board members and his support for Carey.
"I speak from the heart," Esposito told DNAinfo. "Everybody on that board knows that I don’t have a racist bone in my body and that I have fought for equal rights for the last 25 years."
In April, CB9 also voted to remove Albert Cohen, a Forest Hills-based lawyer, after he missed seven consecutive meetings.