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Politicians' Aides Rewarded by Community Board for Keeping Quiet

By DNAinfo Staff on February 21, 2013 11:09am

UPPER EAST SIDE — Aides to local politicians are being rewarded for saying as little as possible by an Upper East Side Community Board.

CB8 handed out a certificate of recognition — presented in a black wood frame from Bed, Bath and Beyond — and a half-dozen cupcakes from Buttercup Bake Shop to two representatives who spoke the least during presentations last year, board chairman Nick Viest said.

They were given as part of Viest's new K.I.S.S., or "keep it short and sweet" initiative that rewards electeds' reps for quickly wrapping up their reports to the community board, according to Viest and the printed certificate.

As part of K.I.S.S., the approximately 10 elected leaders' representatives who regularly attended CB8 meetings in 2012 competed against each other for "stars" — given based on brevity — that were verbally tallied at each meeting, several aides said.

The point of K.I.S.S. is to get the reps to slash their lectern time so that the meetings could be shorter, Viest explained.

"I believe in positive reinforcement," he said. "Next year we might even include a board member award."

Kristen Ellis, Borough President Scott Stringer's community liaison for the district, came in first in the contest.

Matthew Walsh, Assemblyman Dan Quart's community relations director, came in second.

"I'm so honored to even be a contender," said Ellis, 29.

Walsh agreed.

"I'm proud," he said.

It's unclear how the rest of area electeds' representatives ranked.

When asked to elaborate on the contest's intricacies, Ellis and Walsh explained that they noticed Viest doling out — or withholding — "stars" about a year ago.

"Every meeting, he'd give stars to whomever had the shortest report. It's always been between us," Ellis said, looking to Walsh. "He said that I won by one-and-a half stars."

Stringer said he was thrilled about Ellis' accolade, telling DNAinfo.com New York in a statement: "The community board was right to honor Kristen for her ability to break down complicated issues and engage the community to get a result.

"We are so proud she received this recognition. She definitely deserves it."

Quart had similar sentiments.

When Quart was a CB8 member, meetings often went "late into the night," he said.

"I wished all of the speakers present before the board had practiced brevity," he said.

"I'm glad that I instilled some of that in Matt — that he doesn't belabor the point and gets to the heart of the matter quickly."

But Wednesday's prize-giving dealt a hard blow to some pols' personnel.

"I'm disappointed," said one aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "But my boss is probably happy."

Now some members are hoping the brevity initiative is broadened to include more speakers.

"They should have a time limit for board members," member Cos Spagnoletti quipped.