New District Director hired at C’Heights Community Council after 6 years of research

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Crown Heights Community Council 9 ended its long search for its top official on February 23, when they voted to hire a new district manager after working for six years without one.

The civic panel voted 32 to one with four abstentions in favor of hiring Dante Arnwine for the position at a salary of $ 85,000 – hoping the new leadership will make the infamously chaotic community council more effective.

“I have a vision for the office, I really believe now is the time for community council to really take a step forward and change the way people think about community councils,” said Arnwine. “I really want to find a way to use technology to make the office more efficient, more efficient.”

Newly elected District Director Dante Arnwine addresses Community Council 9 on February 23.Screenshot

Pass district chief controversies

Arnwine’s hiring comes after years of litigation back and forth among community members over the role of district manager – including lawsuits, scandals and allegations of “misconduct” against community greats. city.

In 2017, a judge canceled the hiring of Carmen Martinez, a longtime resident for the post following a lawsuit, saying the board failed to follow its bylaws and denied community involvement in the hiring process. Adding to the controversy surrounding Martinez, community members also lambasted her professional resume after discovering that she had been forced into retirement by the city comptroller’s office for allegedly abusing city time.

Martinez is still a board member and was one of four abstentions in the district director’s confirmation vote on February 23.

Prior to Martinez’s brief stint, the District Manager position was held by Pearl Miles, who was removed from the post in 2015, after board members discovered that she had engaged in a “type of misconduct” and “unprofessional behavior”.

Concerns about hiring Arnwine

Some neighborhood activists, who don’t sit on the board, challenged Arnwine’s selection to lead the panel – arguing that his youth, inexperience and roots in Tennessee rather than Brooklyn made him unfit for a bureaucratic role, which involves scheduling council meetings, keeping records and conducting business at his Nostrand Avenue district office.

“We realize that the young man is very, very young, he has very little experience, he has no experience in our community, he is from Tennessee,” neighborhood activist Alicia Boyd said during a board meeting in January.

Boyd, a frequent critic of the board, even went so far as to refer to Arnwine’s Facebook profile at the January meeting and accused Arnwine, who is black, of having no blacks on his media page. social – which drew accusations of hypocrisy from board members.

“It is so inappropriate and so offensive,” Board member Rabbi Yaacov Behrman said at the controversial January meeting. “I am completely baffled and confused that we are checking out and seeing what demographics friends are on Facebook. “

Other activists accused Arnwine of having political aspirations outside of running the community council, citing his past candidacy for district chief in Queens as evidence.

“He has political aspirations,” said Maxine Barnes. “We’ve taken this route – we know it doesn’t work. “

A saga of several years comes to an end

Despite complaints from activists, Arnwine’s hiring was supported by board members, who voted overwhelmingly in favor and sent congratulatory messages to him.

At the January board meeting, board chairman Fred Baptiste went on the defensive about the board’s hiring process, which reviewed 142 applications before landing on Arnwine.

“This committee has worked very hard,” Baptiste said. “And that’s something really disappointing in terms of what we hear from a lot of members who want to take a hit in terms of the integrity of the committee and the integrity of the board and some of its officers saying that we’ve got some sort of agenda, and we’re blind and just want to pick someone who’s qualified.

Daniel E. Murphy