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District Manager Removed From Brooklyn CB9 After Year of Protests

 Pearl Miles, former district manager of Brooklyn Community Board 9, spoke at Tuesday night's full CB9 meeting before its members voted to remove her from her position.
Pearl Miles, former district manager of Brooklyn Community Board 9, spoke at Tuesday night's full CB9 meeting before its members voted to remove her from her position.
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DNAinfo/Rachel Holliday Smith

CROWN HEIGHTS — Members of Brooklyn Community Board 9 voted Tuesday to remove their longstanding top administrator, following hours of debate and a year of controversy surrounding the board’s handling of a rezoning proposal in the area.

District Manager Pearl Miles has been stripped of her title “effective immediately” after 30 years of service, said board chairman Demetrius Lawrence after the vote Tuesday night. Thirty-two board members voted to remove her, he said, with seven "no" votes and three abstentions.

The board considered the decision in a two-hour, closed-door executive session during a monthly full board meeting held at M.S. 61 in Crown Heights in which Miles was given a chance to respond to a letter of intent to remove her sent by Lawrence and CB9’s top leaders last week.

The letter claimed Miles 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.”

Those charges have also been leveled at Miles by the local activist group Movement to Protect the People, who repeatedly asked for her resignation in the past year as the board considered a controversial request to the Department of City Planning to begin a rezoning study in the district, including Crown Heights and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens.

During that time, Miles became the focus for near-constant protests by MTOPP at CB9's monthly meetings, particularly after she was found to have incorrectly recorded the result of a key vote on the rezoning issue, altering the outcome of the measure.

As the vote was announced after 11 p.m. Tuesday night, members of MTOPP, including its controversial leader Alicia Boyd, broke out into applause and cheers; Lawrence immediately called for order.

“This is not a celebratory moment,” he said.

Boyd, speaking from the middle of the auditorium, shouted back: “Speak for yourself.”

The letter to Miles did not directly address the rezoning controversy, but sources on the board said the effort to remove her started months ago, at the height of the debate over the land use issue.

After the vote, Miles did not publicly address the allegations against her, asking only that she be given three days to clear out her office.

Speaking to DNAinfo later, she said “there was no supporting documentation” for the allegations against her; her attorney filed a lawsuit against the board and others for age-discrimination in the removal.

“I am an excellent district manager. I know my job,” she said.

In her role, Miles was responsible for organizing the board’s monthly meetings, keeping its records and conducting business at the board office on Nostrand Avenue. She served as assistant district manager at CB9 for eight years and 22 years as district manager. As a city employee, she was paid $124,180 last year, according to public salary data from the Empire Center.

Following the vote Tuesday night, Lawrence appointed seven CB9 members to head up a search committee to find a replacement for Miles, which will begin work this week to find appropriate candidates, he said.