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Acting Queens BP Fails to Reappoint Denise Keehan-Smith, Chair of CB2, to the Board

June 2, 2020 By Christian Murray

Denise Keehan-Smith, who has been the chair of Community Board 2 since 2016, was dropped from the board last week without a vote being cast.

Keehan-Smith was tossed out of the position when Acting Queens Borough President Sharon Lee decided not to reappoint her to Community Board 2. Lee phoned her Sunday night to inform her of that decision.

Board members are appointed by the borough president and the council member of a given district. In this case it is Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, who has been at odds with Keehan-Smith in recent years– particularly over the protected bicycle lanes in Sunnyside.

The announcement caught many board members by surprise since Keehan-Smith has been a popular chair. She was elected chair five times during her tenure. And it is rare for a board member not to be reappointed.

Lee announced the names Tuesday of 339 people who had been appointed or reappointed to the 14 Community Boards in Queens for the 2020-2022 term.

The decision not to reappoint Keehan-Smith follows an equal opportunity employment complaint filed against her, which was first reported by the Queens Eagle.

Debra Markell Kleinert, the long-time district manager, filed the complaint that was submitted to the borough president on March 19.

The complaint, according to the Queens Eagle, accused Keehan-Smith of being “abrasive” and “abusive.” Markell Kleinert said she was specifically targeted due to her age, disability and religion especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keehan-Smith was unaware of the complaint until she read about it in the Queens Eagle. She told the Queens Post that the allegations are “absurd.”

There is no word as to the status of that investigation.

Lee and Van Bramer were not immediately available for comment.

An earlier version of this story was titled: CB2 Chair Denise Keehan-Smith Thrown Off Community Board.

The headline has been changed for the purposes of accuracy. Keehan-Smith was not thrown off the board; instead she lost her position on the board when Acting Borough President Sharon Lee in consultant with Council Member Van Bramer chose not to reappoint her.

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I had similar experiences with her too. She was actively disrespectful and dismissive to residents who were not on the community board. The community is better off without her “leadership.”

CB2 Board Member

I’m a member of CB2, and just want to note that Denise was a great chair who did an admirable job running the board. We didn’t always agree, but she always gave room for debate on issues and was willing to hear out opposing views.

It’s unfortunate that her tenure was ended in this abrupt and questionable fashion. She’ll be missed from the board.

Mr. Seller

Keehan-Smith was PRO Amazon and ANTI bike lane, so it was only a matter of time before she got canned. It doesn’t matter if the anti-semitism and elder abuse charges are true or not. The mere accusation is all that is needed.


JVB acts like he is a God. Get over it. Some people will disagree with you. This is your job, can’t handle criticism get out of the kitchen. Lee and JVB are acting more Trump like by the day. Getting rid of people who don’t agree with them.


Absolutely ridiculous. When eill the madness stop? When will 23 investigate jvb’s corruption? Mlk


There is a pandemic and civil unrest. Jimmy Van Brameer is a nasty do nothing who is paid a lot. He spends his time getting rid of good people. He won his bike battle. He just made the Community Board useless. Resign.


What are the positions taken on the bike lanes by Van Bramer and Keehan – Smith. This is incomplete info.

NYC the new Detroit

That’s the new routine now. Anytime you have a disagreement, arguement with or any other less than amicable relationship with a white person, just claim discrimination based on fill-in-the-blank.

No further discussion required.

To: QBP and CM Van Bramer

QBP Lee and CM Van Bramer should address the community this Thursday at the CB2 scheduled monthly meeting to explain their actions and the status of the investigation.


I had called CB 2 several times and did speak to a Debra who was rude a few times to me. She was not helpful and always rushed me when I complain about the Hotel aka temp shelter on 53 St QB . I did not like her .


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