The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Only 'Illegals' Use Bike Lanes in Corona, Trump-Backing Board Member Says

By Katie Honan | March 1, 2017 2:40pm | Updated on March 2, 2017 7:52am
 Ann Pfoser Darby, a 30-year member of CB 4, made the comments at a transportation meeting regarding changes to 111th Street.
Ann Pfoser Darby, a 30-year member of CB 4, made the comments at a transportation meeting regarding changes to 111th Street.
View Full Caption

CORONA — Elected officials are calling for the removal of a longtime community board member after she dismissed the need for a new bike lane in the area — saying once President Donald Trump removes "all the illegals from Corona," the lanes won't be necessary.

Veteran CB4 member Ann Pfoser Darby, who has a history of making controversial comments in her 30 years on the board, told those present at Community Board 4's transportation meeting that proposed changes to 111th Street to add a bike lane were moot.

"Once Trump removes all the illegals from Corona there won't be anybody to ride bike lanes," Pfoser Darby said, according to a member of the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives and a spokeswoman for City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, both of whom were present at the meeting.

Pfoser Darby doubled down on the comments when reached by phone Wednesday, saying she was sharing her observations with the community over bike lanes already installed on Queens Boulevard.

"I see who goes by and who doesn't, and there was a lot of people going by to work early in the morning and like about 90 percent of them are gone," she said — adding that she took it as a sign that these people have been "picked up by ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement.]"

"It looks like they were illegal aliens, I don't know, I didn't speak to them," she added.

When asked how she could tell someone's immigration status from afar, she said it's "observation and logic."

"You can kind of tell, especially sometimes the way they dress," she said, adding later that it's obvious if "someone speaks only Chinese."

"This is a shockingly racist and xenophobic statement from a public servant," said Ferreras-Copeland. "Such comments which are unambiguously racist and morally repugnant will not be ignored nor met with silence or indifference."

Board 4's newly appointed chair, Damian Vargas, apologized for Pfoser Darby's comments and said the board will further investigate and "work with relevant elected officials to determine a proper course of action."

"Community Board 4 welcomes the free expression of diverse viewpoints as it is essential to effectively represent communities as diverse as Corona and Elmhurst," Vargas said in a statement. "However, we will not tolerate disrespectful or disparaging comments about any member of any community."

Pfoser Darby has been a member of Community Board 4 since 1987, officials said.

She's known for dissenting opinions on the diverse board, recently requesting the new Elmhurst Library be named to honor former Supreme Court Justice and Elmhurst native Antonin Scalia, according to a report.

She also said at a meeting last year that any decision regarding changes to Queens Boulevard should be tabled before Donald Trump was elected president. She said she'd speak to him personally about the proposal. 

Councilman Danny Dromm condemned the comments and told DNAinfo New York he won't re-appoint Pfoser Darby to the board when her term is up in three weeks.

Borough President Melinda Katz, whose office confirms all board members, said in an email "these types of comments by public servants are never acceptable."

Pfoser Darby said Wednesday that if the board wants to remove her, she's fine with it.

"I'm a human being trying to help my community and these people, it's me against the opposition," she said. "It's like me against the world."