CROWN HEIGHTS — A Brooklyn community board that has come under fire for its handling of a controversial rezoning proposal is seeking to remove its longtime district manager, according to a letter from the board.
Brooklyn Community Board 9’s District Manager Pearl Miles, who has been at the helm of the board for 20 years, engaged in “a longstanding pattern of misconduct,” “unprofessional behavior” and has left locals feeling that she is “gravely out of touch with the community that she is employed to serve,” CB9's executive committee wrote in a letter sent to Miles on Friday.
“She consistently demonstrates an unwillingness to work with the board and community residents as well as a lack of professionalism, respect and integrity,” wrote board chairman Demetrius Lawrence.
The removal of Miles, recommended by the board's seven-member executive committee, needs approval by the 50 or so members of the full board at a meeting scheduled for next Tuesday, Oct. 27, the letter read. If the rest of CB9’s board votes to approve the move, Miles’ position will be terminated immediately, board members said.
On Monday, Miles told DNAinfo New York she was "blindsided" by the letter and she plans to hire a lawyer to fight the planned removal. She also defended her abilities as district manager, saying there was "no supporting information" with the complaints outlined in the board's letter.
“There’s people that say, 'I don’t like her' and there’s people that really, really support me... But whether they like me or not, none of them can say I can’t do my job," she said.
Chairman Lawrence declined to comment on the recommendation before the board’s vote next week.
Miles, who was paid $124,180 last year, according to public salary data from the Empire Center, is responsible for organizing the board’s monthly meetings, keeping its records and conducting business at the board office on Nostrand Avenue. CB9's district encompasses southern Crown Heights and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens.
The move to remove Miles comes after a year-long fight within the board over the start of a process that may change land use and zoning rules in the neighborhood, which brought near-constant protests to CB9 meetings for months, lead by local activist group Movement to Protect the People (MTOPP).
Though sources on the board say the removal has nothing to do with MTOPP and the letter to Miles does not make any reference to the controversy, the district manager was often at the center of the fight.
Last fall, Miles took heat from MTOPP and others for incorrectly recording the results of a key vote on the rezoning issue, altering the outcome of the measure.
During and after that mistake — which set into motion months of raucous back-and-forth debate marked by repeated arrests of MTOPP’s leader Alicia Boyd and racially-charged rhetoric from the group — MTOPP repeatedly called for Miles’ removal.
After the board sent the letter of intent to remove Miles last week, at least one CB9 member, local blogger Tim Thomas, defended her, saying he has “seen her be extraordinarily effective in bringing together agencies and provide services” and advocated in a post that board members look at Miles’ entire career in the job, not just “the past 14 months.”
“Removing Pearl for her personality and professionalism is one thing; knocking her out for her behavior over the last year is another altogether,” he wrote.
As required by the board's bylaws, Miles has an opportunity to publicly respond to the board's recommendation to remove her before the vote takes place next week, the board said.
The full board meeting for Brooklyn Community Board 9 will take place at 7:00 p.m. on Oct. 27 at M.S. 61 at 400 Empire Blvd.