QUEENS — A Queens community board voted to place its longtime district manager on probation Tuesday night in the wake of complaints about her responsiveness.
Members of Community Board 9, which represents Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill, Woodhaven and Ozone Park, emerged from an hour-long closed door executive session after 11 p.m. to announce that they had voted to place Mary Ann Carey on probation for six months.
Some board members have critized her performance and accused her of incompetence and mismanaging the office, including failing to address requests in a timely manner.
About three weeks ago the community board’s executive committee asked her to resign, but she refused, she said.
“I was shocked,” she said. “It’s very embarrassing to have to defend myself after working here for 30 years. In other places they honor you.”
Carey, who declined to give her age, is the longest-serving district manager in Queens.
At the CB9 meeting on Tuesday, at least a dozen supporters showed up to praise her as a competent and dedicated public servant.
Paul Sapienza, a former CB 9 chair, was one of them. “She knows who to call to get something done,” he said. “That’s an invaluable talent that is only acquired after many, many years of doing this job.”
The possibility of her resigning was raised last September by Andrea Crawford, who was the board’s chair at the time, Carey said.
“I said 'I’ll think about it’", Carey said.
The issue arose again when James Coccovillo, the new chair, took over earlier this year. Carey said three weeks ago she was told by Coccovillo that her “services are no longer required."
“They wanted to do it quietly but I took the position that I have to fight for all the district managers,” who serve “at the pleasure of the board,” she said.
Alex Blenkinsopp, a board member who has been one of the most vocal critics of Carey, said that “there were problems with technology, problems with accountability, problems with issues just not being addressed at all or not being addressed in a timely manner.”
Blenkinsopp, who has served on the board for two years, said he changed his mind during the executive session after hearing arguments from board members who worked with Carey for a long time.
“We’ve come 30 years with her, we can afford to give her another 6 months where everyone is in the loop about her performance,” he said.
Eventually the motion to dismiss Carey was withdrawn.
The board also decided that a recently formed communications committee will try to make sure the relationship between board members and Carey improves.
“We need to make certain changes” to improve the board’s performance, said Coccovillo about the board's decision.
“I appreciate the fact that they sort of supported me," Carey said. “I’m gonna work with them and see what the issues are."