New Community Board 3 Chair Changes Leadership of Transportation/Public Safety Committee

Community Board 3's January 2018 meeting. New chair Alysha Lewis Coleman is on the left.

Community Board 3’s January 2018 meeting. New chair Alysha Lewis Coleman is on the left.

2018 has brought changes in the leadership of Community Board 3.

As previously reported, Jamie Rogers stepped down as board chairperson to avoid the appearance of conflict. His wife, Carlina Rivera, is now District 2’s City Councilmember. He was succeeded by Alysha Lewis Coleman, who had been first vice-chair. She’ll serve the remainder of Rogers’ term, until the middle of this year (new executive committee elections take place in the early summer).

During the board’s monthly meeting on Tuesday evening, Coleman announced the resignation of CB3 member Chad Marlow. He did not reapply with the borough president’s office for another term, so Marlow would have concluded his service on Community Board 3 this coming spring regardless. But he chose to walk away early after Coleman decided to remove Marlow as chair of the transportation, public safety and environment committee.

For those who are not aware,” said Coleman, “Chad Marlow has resigned from the board, effective immediately. He was not reapplying for the full board, so I just addressed his replacement now (David Crane is taking over as transportation committee chair)… I have been looking at all of the committees, and attendance, and leadership styles… I’m doing some shifting around.” Without explaining her reasons for the change, Coleman added, “I will not go into personal issues if there was a personal issue with an individual.” 

In recent months, Marlow has been championing a resolution meant to address the glut of bars within Community District 3. A draft resolution called for city and state agencies to consider, “adverse public safety and health risks” in neighborhoods (like the Lower East Side) with high concentrations of liquor permits. Earlier this month, Marlow advised the board office via email that he wanted to place the issue on his committee agendas in February and March, with a vote taking place during the second meeting. 

After looking at next month’s preliminary agenda on Tuesday, board member Karlin Chan spoke up, saying, “I don’t see on the transportation committee (agenda) the alcohol density resolution that we were working on. I was given some information that Chad was removed because he wanted the community to vote on that resolution. Doesn’t that deny the community the voice?”

Coleman responded, “That was not the main reason why he was removed as chair. I stated before that I won’t get into personal reasons as to why (the change was made).” Crane, who formerly headed the transportation/public safety committee, also addressed the matter, explaining, “My belief is that (the proposed resolution) was not a project of the committee. It was never on the agenda of the committee. We will discuss it at the (next) committee meeting.” Coleman said it will be up to another panel, the human services committee, to decide whether the resolution should be considered in the future.

Chad Marlow.

Chad Marlow.

Back in September, the transportation/public safety committee heard presentations from Robert Pezzolesi of the New York Alcohol Policy Alliance and from graduate students at Hunter College who published a study on alcohol permits at the request of the Lower East Side Dwellers neighborhood association. The Hunter study came under heavy criticism from some board members, who said it lacked credibility and thoroughness.

A revised draft of the resolution prepared by Marlow focused on another report, a “Guide for Measuring Alcohol Outlet Density,” published last year by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The resolution referenced the report’s conclusion that, “high alcohol outlet density is an environmental risk factor for excessive drinking” and that “liquor control agencies” should use data (regarding high density areas) to determine whether to issue new liquor licenses. It called on the State Liquor Authority to, “give far greater weight to the well-established adverse public health and safety impact risks created by high alcohol outlet density…” when evaluating liquor applications. 

Marlow spoke with us yesterday about his early departure from the board. Referencing assertions from Crane that the proposed resolution was, “never on the agenda of the committee,” Marlow stated, “This issue was scheduled on agendas for February and March (he forwarded us his email to the board office as evidence). I think it is always in the best interest of the board to allow issues important to the community to be discussed and debated.” In a tweet the other day, Marlow wrote, “Sometimes standing up for what’s right requires walking out the door.”  [Marlow also noted that the topic was discussed by committee members on two separate occasions this past fall. While general conversations have taken place, other CB3 members say the substance of the resolution has not been addressed in a public meeting.]

In an email to CB3 colleagues earlier this month, Marlow said he had been soliciting feedback from other members of the transportation/public safety committee throughout the process. Marlow also said he invited members of other panels — the Human Services/Health Committee and State Liquor Authority Committee — to take part in the proceedings.  Marlow wrote, “It was agreed at the August 2017 CB3 Executive Committee meeting, pursuant to my request, that the (Public Safety) Committee would take the lead on this issue even though it crosses areas involving several committees’ work.” 

In an interview, Coleman said it was obvious to her that Marlow had been, “working on the issue himself.” She said some committee members had no idea what was happening with the resolution. Coleman said she was convinced the resolution would have little impact. “I told Chad that this resolution would not stop the State Liquor Authority from granting licenses,” said Coleman, “and that there are higher priorities for the transportation committee.” In our interview, she cited the looming L Train shutdown and the ongoing Grand/Clinton Street traffic gridlock situation as more pressing matters for the transportation committee.

Coleman reiterated that the alcohol density resolution was not the main reason she chose to make a change in the leadership of the transportation/public safety committee. In further explaining the move, she cited a recent conversation between Marlow and Mae Lee, chair of the health and human services committee. “That conversation wasn’t very pleasant,” said Coleman.

Yesterday evening, Lee offered her own perspective on that conversation. Lee said that — given the resolution’s focus on health impacts and its reliance on the CDC report — she felt it should be taken up by her committee, rather than the transportation/public safety panel. “Chad clearly disagreed,” said Lee. “He called me a lot of names. I was called a liar and unprofessional. It was not very collegial.”

Today, we spoke with Marlow again. He said Lee repeatedly agreed that the transportation/public safety committee could take the lead on the resolution. Marlow said he became frustrated because, in his view, Lee ultimately denied giving her consent when he believes she simply changed her mind. “The evidence is clear,” asserted Marlow. “She wanted to kill this resolution. She did not want a vote”

Lee said it’s possible her committee will take up the resolution in the future. While she’ll address the matter with other committee members, Lee said there are no firm plans at this time.

 

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