Opinion: Sept. 1, 2015 By John O’Reilly
I received on August 31, 2015 an email from CB 2 forwarding documents regarding Joseph Conley’s appointment to the Board’s Land Use and Transportation Committees and the draft minutes of the Board’s June 4, 2015 meeting.
Joseph Conley Appointment: The email attaches a letter dated April 10, 2015 from Patrick A. O’Brien to Joseph Conley in which Mr. O’Brien states in relevant part that he is appointing Mr. Conley as Public Member of the Land Use Committee and the Transportation Committee.
1) The letter is dated just 9 days after the full Community Board meeting on April 1, 2015 during which the Deputy Borough President announced Mr. Conley’s departure as a member of the Community Board, best wishes and thanks for his long years of service were communicated from Borough President Melinda Katz and by many of the persons present at the meeting. Mr. Conley received a standing ovation at the April 1st meeting in the apparent belief that he was no longer going to be involved with the Board. But, incredibly, nothing was said at the April 1st Board meeting about Mr. Conley continuing on with the Board as a Public Member of two committees, including perhaps the most important committee, the Land Use Committee.
2) The letter shows no indication that it was copied to members of the CB 2 Board, to other Executive Committee Members, or to members of the Land Use and Transportation Committees. There’s no mention that the Board Chair had made this appointment in any subsequent Board minutes (May 7, 2015 and June 4, 2015). Based on the response to the FOIL request, there is no other document in the Board files concerning Mr. Conley’s public member appointment other than the April 10th letter and the email communications by Mr. O’Brien dated July 29 and July 27, 2015 and my original July 25, 2015 inquiry.
3) The basis stated by the Board Chair in the letter for the appointment are that Mr. Conley’s departure from the Board “will be a great loss·for all of us” and the “hope we will continue to benefit from the knowledge, commitment, and of time and·spirit for many years to come”. Only Mr. O’Brien’s name appears on the letter so there’s no indication of who the “all of us” and “we” are that are referenced by Mr. O’Brien.
4) As related in the prior writing on this subject (Sunnyside Post August 30, 2015), the authority of the Board Chair alone to appoint public members to Board committees is questionable because the Board By Laws set forth the positions that the Board Chair alone can appoint but that listing does not include the appointment of a public member to a Board Committee. The By Laws section dealing with public members does not state who makes the appointment and I believe that therefore the appointment belongs to the full Board.
5) Aside from what the By Laws say or don’t say, common sense and good Board practice call for full Board involvement in the appointment with advance notice to the public and opportunity to apply for a public member position before an appointment is made. The manner in which the Conley appointment was made, just days after everyone thought he was leaving Board service, gives rise to the worse suspicions that people have about decision making at CB 2 and the impotency of its members.
6) The letter is dated April 10, 2015, two days after Mr. Conley participated as a full member of the City Services Committee at the Board’s Public Hearing in Long Island City on April 8, 2015. At this meeting, Mr. Conley comported himself as a full Committee member, sitting at the Committee table, interacting with Committee members during the meeting, and asking questions of persons who appeared before the Committee. This is a status that a regular member of the public does not have during committee meetings.
7) Mr. O’Brien’s intention that Mr. Conley serve as a public member “for years to come” is at odds with calls for term limits for Board Members, reflected in legislation introduced by Councilmember Daniel Dromm and co-sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos from Manhattan. Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer also has advocated for term limits for community board members.
8) With this appointment as public member, Mr. Conley in my opinion holds a far stronger position than when he served as Board Chair and Board member. In the latter positions, Mr. Conley was answerable to the City Council Member covering CB 2 and to the Queens Borough President, who are responsible for appointments to the Community Board. Now, as public member, Mr. Conley is answerable to only to the Board Chair (as things now stand), and not to any elected official. Mr. Conley now has full voting privileges on important issues that come before the Land Use and Transportation Committees, for purposes of recommendation and decision by the full Board. As far as I can tell, the Board has always gone along with the recommendation of the Land Use Committee, but I welcome correction of this belief with particulars. In addition, as a committee member whose attendance is counted for purposes of deciding whether there is a quorum, Mr. Conley has power over whether a committee is able to transact business or not transact business at a particular scheduled meeting.
9) The letter on its face indicates that it was delivered “By Hand” to Mr. Conley, and does not include an address for Mr. Conley. The “By Hand” delivery apparently means that a physical document was personally delivered to Mr. Conley, and therefore there is no email communication which would provide a date/time stamp for the delivery of the document. The “By Hand” designation also apparently means that the US Mail or express delivery services which would likewise provide an independent record of delivery were not used. Why the physical document was apparently personally delivered by hand to Mr. Conley and not by email (which would provide the same promptness) or other means is a matter of speculation.
Appointment Joe Conley 041015 by Queens Post
Draft Minutes Board Meeting June 4, 2015
Review of the draft minutes was very helpful because I read that both Chair O’Brien and District Manager Debra Markell Kleinert said that the new website had launched. This caused me to do a more exhaustive search to locate the new website, which I was finally able to get to via the nyc.gov portal (http://www.nyc.gov/html/qnscb2/html/home/home.shtml ). A Google search still brings users to the old web site and there’s no redirection or indication on the old web page that there is an updated web site. Had the draft minutes been produced in accordance with State law, I would have been able to find the new website sooner and not make erroneous statements about the status of the web site.
Statements About Timing of Response to FOIL Requests.
1) The August 31, 2015 email forwarding requested information apologizes apparently for the timing of the response, stating “we had an incorrect email address for you.” Previously, I received on May 23, 2014, June 16, 2014, July 29, 2015 and on August 11, 2015 emails from CB 2 to the CORRECT email address I used for the Conley and Board Minutes FOIL Requests covered by the August 31st email. I called on August 20, 2015 to follow up on the emails, but was not allowed to talk with anyone, instead told to send more emails.
2) Unfortunately, the August 31, 2015 CB 2 claim of wrong email address appears to belong in the “dog ate my homework” hall of shame and potentially brings about further loss of confidence in the activity of this very important public agency.
08-31-15 CB 2 to JOR Response to Email Request by Queens Post
These opinions and viewpoints do not reflect those of the Sunnyside Post
What I see is that members of the comunity board dont like truth-telling and instead use their power to mud-sling and do everything in their power to shut down any scrutiny of their activities.
Did you really think that we would be silenced by your threatening behaviour against anyone that speaks out against your corrupt, greedy ways and embrace development? Usually, when the truth hits home its those that are guilty that sling the dirtiest mud to deflect scrutiny.
So thank you! You just confirmed how dirty OBrien, Connelly and the others are.
Seriously John did you retire as an attorney or were you disbarred for really bad behavior? http://www.leagle.com/decision/In%20NYCO%2020110401653/IN%20THE%20MATTER%20OF%20O'REILLY
What is the community board doing about the increase of homeless, drunken, belligerent bums that have taken over Low Lodati park. They get drunk, pass out on the bench right outside the yard, they throw up from their binge all over the park while there are children playing. Before it was 2 now there are 8-10. They take shelter in the garage of the closed Presbyterian Church, they defecate on the sidewalks and in front of our homes. We don’t all have access to the quite secluded Sunnyside Gardens. What are they waiting for, for one of them to attack a child to take action.
Homeless alcoholics need to get into treatment. Their state is no indication of their danger or lack thereof to children and you undermine yourself by making such an ignorant statement. There has been a huge increase in homelessness resulting from the hyper-gentrification happening all over the city. The first people to lose their homes are always those on the edge. So, complain to your elected officials, ask them to stop this assault on the weakest members of our society. You don’t have to wait for anyone else to solve the problem, take steps yourself.
We have the same issue in the Gardens and in Woodside. 8 have camped across from our bldg. Though they were offered help they refused. Officials were contacted but they are free to cat call young girls, drink, urinate, defecating and engaging in prostitution and sexual acts in public. There are 2 shelters in CB2 with 2 more schedule to open this fall. So expect more people engaging in these behaviours in the spring.
I suspect foul play.
Of course, you’d say that; because, you have nothing of substance to add. Not only foul, you are fowl. Chicken.
Are you a developer? You sound like one.
Hello developers or assistants to developers or those who know …don’t make sunnyside look like some homogenous fake city area like LIC. We’re a community of houses and apt blgs that fit the neighborhood not these mega monstrosities-McCondos!
I’m sorry, because you live in a house you are better than everyone else? This has nothing to do with the condo folks (I don’t live in them either, so don’t start that garbage). Please post your whiney “I want things the way they used to be” crap elsewhere. This is about corrupt government and community rights. P.S. there is nothing “Mc” about those condos, at least cry correctly if you insist on crying.
Real Sunnyside didn’t say where they lived. And they are McCondos. Just glass and steel boxes. They look like office towers to me, but, hey we all have our frame of reference. And it is public corruption that put those towers there, so the comments are nothing but pertinent to this article. Your idea that the opinions and needs of members of this community don’t count shows what kind of heart you have, one as cold as a banker’s. It sounds as if you are the one who is whining because you may not continue to get your way with this neighborhood.
Thank you, AV. The reading comprehension skills are lacking. The struggle seems real.
Hey real, like I said, ” We’re a community of houses and apt blgs that fit the neighborhood.”
Anyway, Mr. or Ms. I’m like totally real, please stuff it. Thanks and good-bye.
Tidal wave: http://bit.ly/1N7P3a3
Shared the story on my page.
Mr. O’ Reilly , you really need to get a life .
As I’m sure you do!
If it weren’t for people willing to investigate and find the hard facts, this fraud would continue. For several years now it has very much looked like our CB leadership was in bed with the developers. It is to be hoped this leads to a thorough investigation of at lease some corruption, if not a deep and wide streak of it. Mr. O’Reilly has used his time and know-how for the benefit of his neighbors, that, as far as I’m concerned is a very good life.
Thank you @JohnO’Reilly !
As you stated earlier, you’re a lawyer. What legal steps can we, should we, as residents of this community take to rectify this situation?
We need to stop this sneaky, corrupt conduct from “our” supposed board members.
What happens next is up to the Board and members of the Board. You and anyone else with an interest can communicate your views to Board members (listed on the CB 2 website) and by addressing the Board during the public comment session at the Board’s next meeting, which I believe is scheduled for September 10th (also listed on the website).
September 10th is next week. Let’s start an online petition tonight and present it there to have Conley removed based on the evidence presented. Is anyone presenting that other petition opposing the 10 story building?
Thanks for caring John. It seems that they produced this letter pretty quickly after the op-ed appeared on this site. This is what journalism is all about. We need to hold our local politicians accountable because, in many ways, they affect our day-to-day lives much more than the useless, deadlocked idiots in DC.
I’m not sure what would rectify this situation besides giving Conley the boot. I don’t trust this guy has my interests at heart on the land use committee, no way.
Time to pull back the curtain on the wizard
Wizard of Oz: [speaking in a booming voice into microphone] Silence! I am the great and powerful wizard…you people just don’t know the facts
[then, realizing that it is useless to continue his masquerade, moves away from microphone, speaks in a normal voice]
Thanks for caring about our community John.
We all need to know this,
This is even thinner than the last op-ed you posted. It just seems like a cranky old man complaining about insignificant procedural details.
Are you kidding me Nobody, this is corruption at it’s best. I’m betting you are Mr. O’brien… If you are not, you likely have your hand in his pocket. There was no procedure at all, just exploitation of public positions. The entire board needs to be removed.
They are in the pockets of the developers and, for the most part, are against the communities that they represent. Joe Conley – the man, the myth, the future! God help us.
I agree! Replace board members ASAP!
procedural details have a lot of power, and it’s where a lot of corruption happens, because nobody is willing to pay attention to them.
Nobody, its clowns like you that let this corruption go on for years,
Mr O Reilly has done this neighborhood a great service with this information.
PUT THE WHOLE SYSTEM ON TRIAL!