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No-Show Midtown Community Board Members Facing the Boot

By DNAinfo Staff on June 14, 2011 7:24am  | Updated on June 14, 2011 7:23am

Members of Community Board 5 at a meeting last fall to brainstorm plans for a new Midtown plaza.
Members of Community Board 5 at a meeting last fall to brainstorm plans for a new Midtown plaza.
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DNAinfo/Jill Colvin

By Jill Colvin

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MIDTOWN — Up to three members of Midtown's Community Board 5 could be kicked out of their positions because of "troublesome" truancy rates, the board's chair has warned.

At least one problematic member missed six or seven full board meetings in a row, and votes at four of the board's seven committee meetings this month could not be counted because there weren't enough members present to form a quorum, CB5 chair Vikki Barbero said.

"It's unconscionable. It's just unconscionable," Barbero told some of CB5's approximately 50 members at the end of last Thursday's full board meeting.

"It's disrespectful to the fellow board members, to the applicants and the public that has come."

The no-shows also forced committees to keep applicants waiting as they held out for missing members to arrive and created awkward moments, such as at a recent Parks Committee meeting when chair Joseph Hagelmann had to explain to those presenting ideas that the committee's vote really didn't count because not enough people were there.

Barbero said she had already initiated conversation with the Manhattan Borough President's office to discuss procedures for possibly dismissing the members — a move the Borough President's office says is rare.

Barbero declined to name the members who could face the chopping block.

According to board bylaws, members may be removed for "failure to fulfill attendance requirements," including consecutive unexcused absences from three full board or committee meetings or six missed meetings over the course of a year.

Members must be notified in writing, and the action approved by the full board.

Vacancies would then be filled by the borough president, the City Charter says.

Board members, who are clearly frustrated by the no-shows, also floated several suggestions about the possibility of creating a new class of board member to cut down on missed meetings.

Board member Meile Rockefeller suggested giving some the right to vote only during full-board meetings, and relieving them of the burden of having to serve on committees.

Barbero said she's also considered creating new "honorary members" who would not serve on committees, but could be called on to share their knowledge or expertise.

"We're in discussion now about how to handle the problem," Barbero told the board.