Volume 22, Number 38 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | January 29 - February 4, 2010
After heated discussion, C.B. 1 holds firm on school vote
Community Board 1 stuck to its support of school zoning Option 2 this week, despite a last-minute push for the board to either back Option 3R or not take a position.
Last week, C.B. 1’s Youth and Education Committee voted 6-2 in favor of Option 2, with two abstentions. The full board generally supports decisions made on the committee level.
But after hearing from parents on both sides Tuesday night, a couple of board members voiced support for 3R. And Peter Braus, a recent appointee to the Youth and Education Committee who supported Option 3R, said the board did not have enough data to make a decision between the two options. Braus urged the board to withdraw its support of Option 2, and at least two board members agreed.
But several other members of the Youth and Education Committee bristled at the suggestion.
“A lot of people have spent a lot of time working on this,” said Liat Silberman, who supports Option 2.
Silberman and others also pointed out that Braus, who lives in east Tribeca, had a personal interest in the decision since his son enters kindergarten next fall. Option 3R would have zoned Braus’s child for P.S. 234, while Option 2, which was approved the next night, zones him for the Spruce Street School. C.B. 1 Chairperson Julie Menin, also a 3R backer, appointed Braus to the Youth and Education Committee last week, the same day as the committee’s vote.
Jeff Mihok, a C.B. 1 member who supported Option 2, said Braus’s appointment set a “dangerous precedent” of board members acting based on self-interest.
Menin replied that Braus previously served on the Youth and Education Committee and said she generally does not turn down requests by board members to serve on specific committees. Braus disclosed his personal interest last week but did not recuse himself from the vote.
Although the discussion grew heated, neither Braus nor anyone else ultimately made a motion to reverse the board’s support for Option 2, so the board’s previous vote stayed in place.
Braus appeared to take the controversy in stride.
“If the worst thing anyone can say about me is that I advocate for my 4-year-old, so be it,” he said.
— Julie Shapiro