CROWN HEIGHTS — Community Board 9's district manager incorrectly recorded the results of a controversial vote on rezoning in the neighborhood, altering the board's decision on the issue.
District Manager Pearl Miles said a loud and chaotic meeting is to blame for at least four discrepancies between an official voting record and an audio recording from a September board meeting where the vote took place.
If the vote had been counted correctly, there would have been at least 18 people in favor of rescinding a resolution on rezoning in the neighborhood, outweighing the no votes and abstentions, instead of the official tally of 16 yes votes and 17 nos and abstentions, which kept the resolution intact.
Miles acknowledged she "made a mistake in the count," but said the official tally couldn't be corrected without board approval.
“Me listening to the [recording] after the fact doesn’t change anything,” she said. “The vote is the vote.”
Miles said she had been taking notes during CB9's Sept. 23 board meeting when a local activist group, Movement to Protect the People, demanded CB9 vote to rescind a resolution the board had sent to the Department of City Planning to begin studying rezoning in the neighborhood. MTOPP said the original resolution had been written without consensus from residents.
The board agreed to take a vote on the issue, and MTOPP initially thought the board had decided to rescind the original resolution. But later, MTOPP was informed that the new resolution had not passed because of a procedural rule.
The result infuriated the group, which staged a protest outside CB9, continued to protest at board meetings and filed a Freedom of Information Law request to obtain the documentation of the vote in the weeks after it took place.
Miles turned over those records to MTOPP's leader Alicia Boyd last week, which show Miles' handwritten tally of the vote. MTOPP posted the records to its website three days later.
In at least four instances, the official vote count differs from an audio recording made by DNAinfo New York of the meeting, including two “yes” votes by board members Unella Rhone-Perry and Kenya Sollas recorded by Miles as “absent.”
“I’m admitting that I made a mistake with Ms. Rohn-Perry and Ms. Sollas’ votes,” Miles said Monday of the discrepancies.
Rohn-Perry, who joined the board for the first time this year, said she was "perturbed" to find out that the vote's result was a mistake and hopes the board will "make a decision and call another vote in light of this occurrence."
“I’m not sure how the error occurred. It’s beyond me," she said, adding that the vote "created a lot of issues that were totally unnecessary.”
In addition to the uncounted "yes" votes, Miles also wrote down a “no” vote for board member Chanina Sperlin, whose name was not called out by the board’s secretary and, therefore, never voted. Another board member, Rabbi Joseph Speilman, clearly voted against rescinding the resolution in the audio recording of the meeting, but Miles marked him down as “absent.”
Two votes by board members Rev. Phyllis Brown and Veta May Clarke are not audible on the audio recording, but whether their votes — recorded as a "no" and an abstention by the board, respectively — were correct would not lessen the majority supporting rescinding the resolution.
Though Miles said the mistake was due only to human error, Boyd of MTOPP insists the inaccuracies were made intentionally, she told DNAinfo.
“I believe it was deliberate. I believe that they had an opportunity to sit there and ... examine the votes afterwards and they still wanted to engage in fraudulent behavior," she said.
MTOPP plans to hold a meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at 89 Sterling St. to plan how to bring charges against Miles and the CB9 executive board to request their removal, Boyd said.
It’s unclear if the CB9 executive board will change the official vote record or call for another vote following the release of the voting record.
CB9 chairman Dwayne Nicholson did not respond to a request for comment.
The board has been looking into rezoning parts of Crown Heights and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens for more than a year, partly due to increased development there, board members said. The board officially requested the City Planning Department begin studying the possibility of rezoning in the neighborhood this spring.