Outside straight: Gov’s picks stack BPCA board with all non-residents

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The Battery Park City Authority’s board is now stacked entirely with non-residents, now that Gov. Cuomo has filled three empty seats.

BY COLIN MIXSON

Gov. Cuomo has once again ignored the pleas of Battery Park City residents and appointed three outsiders to fill vacancies on the neighborhood’s ruling council.

There are now no residents on the board of the Battery Park City Authority, despite repeated calls by residents, elected officials, and local civic leaders to expand local representation.

On June 20, the state Senate voted to confirm Cuomo’s three nominees to the authority’s board, which has been without local representation since BPC resident Martha Gallo stepped down from the board in April.

Only one of the governor’s nominees has even the slightest connection to BPC — Catherine McVay Hughes, a longtime Fidi resident and former chairwoman if Community Board 1. The other two new board members live far out on Long Island and have no known connection to the neighborhood they will now help govern.

State Sen. Daniel Squadron, who sponsored a bill to require local representation on the BPCA board, spoke out against the dearth of resident voices on the panel prior to the confirmation vote last week.

“Unfortunately the Battery Park City Authority [board], with its seven members, has and will have after this appointment, zero residents of Battery Park City on it,” Squadron spoke before the state senate on Tuesday. “It is a basic principal that on local governances you have a local voice and in Battery Park City that is sorely lacking.”

Squadron did, however, speak in favor of Hughes.

“Catherine McVay Hughes, while not a BPC resident, is a longtime Lower Manhattan leader,” Squadron said. “Her judgment and commitment to the community and energy will all be a great addition to the BPC board.”

Many Battery Park City residents — even among Hughes’s former colleagues on CB1 — were unhappy with Squadron’s vocal support of Hughes, whose strong ties with the community do not, in their eyes, make up for the fact she lives outside their neighborhood.

“We were disappointed by the recent appointments, not because of the people who were chosen, they may be fine candidates, but by the fact that again no BPC residents were selected was disturbing,” said Anthony Notaro.

Cuomo’s remaining appointees include Shelter Island resident Louis Bevilacqua, and attorney with a practice in the East Village, and Long Island resident George Tsunis, a well-heeled political donor famous for fumbling his nomination as ambassador to Norway under the Obama administration, when repeatedly referring to the king of Norway as president.

Presaging his appointment to the BPCA board, Tsunis also had no ties to the Scandinavian country.

Squadron also come under fire from locals for failing to pass his legislation requiring BPC residents be appointed to the board before the current appointments were ratified, and the chairwoman on CB1’s Battery Park City Committee Ninfa Segarra fired off scathing emails to other board members criticizing the senator.

“There is only one way to describe Squadron’s behavior — a betrayal of the BPC community,” Segarra said. “By his action he has totally prevented any representation.”

Squadron’s spokesman pushed back, saying that he had been pushing to pass his legislation since last year, and has consistently argued for his senate colleagues to reject non-resident BPCA board nominees.

“Daniel authored this bill with Assemblymember Glick last year, and has pushed for quick passage since day one, despite a Republican-controlled Senate in which bipartisanship is rarer than the Governor nominating a Battery Park City resident to the BPCA Board,” said spokesman Zeeshan Ott. “In addition, Daniel has regularly urged resident appointments and tried to block non-residents, including two this past week. Any suggestions to the contrary are absurd and inconsistent with reality.”

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