You are reading

Van Bramer Releases Plan to Diversify Queens Community Boards

A Community Board 2 monthly meeting in 2018 (Photo: Queens Post)

March 12, 2021 By Christian Murray

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, a candidate for Queens Borough President, will change the make-up of community boards by appointing younger, more diverse members–if elected.

He said that nearly two-thirds of the members on the 14 community boards in Queens are over the age of 55, and the boards tend to be conservative. As borough president, he would make a point of recruiting younger people who come with a fresh perspective.

Van Bramer said that the existing boards are often comprised of “long time gatekeepers” who dominate discussions about pressing Queens issues such as climate change, Vision Zero, bike lanes, parking requirements, affordable housing, homeless shelters and transportation.

“Community Boards should reflect the diversity of the districts they represent, but the reality is they’re dominated by those who don’t,” Van Bramer said.

“The combination of a lack of term limits for board members and the historic pattern of reappointing members has had a net effect of sidelining younger, BIPOC, immigrant, and queer voices. As Borough President, I’d take aggressive steps to make sure Queens community boards truly represent the people they serve.”

A key role of the borough president is appointing members to community boards. The borough president appoints half the applicants each year, with the local council member the other half. The borough president, however, signs off on all of them.

Board members serve two year terms and are typically reappointed if they have a reasonable attendance record. Van Bramer said that as borough president he would eliminate automatic reappointments.

The city introduced community board term limits in 2019 and members who are appointed or reappointed after April 1, 2020 are limited to five consecutive two-year terms. Time served on the board prior to introduction of term limits does not count.

Van Bramer pledges to introduce term limits based on time served even prior to when term limits were adopted. Therefore, anyone who has already served over 10 years would be encouraged to step aside, he said. Members who have served 15 years or more on a community board would not be reappointed.

New appointments, he said, must reflect the current makeup of any board catchment area. All boards, he said, must have gender equity and be truly representative of BIPOC, immigrant, LGBTQ/Queer, public housing and poor/working class communities.

Each board, if Van Bramer is elected, would be required to have term limits for the Chairperson and executive board positions, he said. Some boards already do, he noted, but many do not and a Chairperson can remain for decades.

All boards, he said, would also be required to have a detailed and professional job description for all employees including the District Manager. Each employee would be subject to an annual review.

All boards would have a diversity, equity and inclusion committee dealing with external and internal matters, he pledges.

The Borough President’s office, he said, would also create an independent screening panel made up of good government groups to review and recommend applicants for the job of board member.

He said he would conduct outreach to recruit new members beyond making the application accessible online.

Van Bramer, who has represented the 26th Council district since 2009, says that he has focused on board diversity since taking office.

He says that he has recommended 23 of the current CB2 members, with his recommendations including 12 women, 14 people of color (7 Latinx, 6 Asian, 1 African American) and 1 LGBTQ member

He said that he has recommended eight members to CB1, six of whom are women

Van Bramer’s proposal is based on a report released by Measure of America and the Queens Eagle, which found that nearly two-thirds of all community board members in Queens are older than 55, and only seven community board members in Queens are younger than 25. Each of the 14 boards has about 50 members.

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards recently announced that a record number of people applied to join a Queens community board this year. He is expected to release the names of those appointed or reappointed around April. 1.

Van Bramer, however, said a record number of applications does not guarantee a more diverse board or that new members will be able to rise to leadership positions.

The primary for borough president takes place on June 22. Van Bramer is running to unseat Richards. Other candidates in the race include Elizabeth Crowley, Stan Morse and Diana Sanchez.

email the author: [email protected]

9 Comments

Click for Comments 
Anonymous

Queens will be set back another decade if Jimmy is elected again. It’s time for identity politics to go and for voters to hold politicians accountable for supporting current businesses and bringing new business to Queens.

Reply
MRLIC

Color isn’t always the answer to
Everything Jimmy Van Bramer and neither is youth. The right people no matter color or age. That makes more sense.

Reply
Chas

Dear Ann , I was there as well goign to the ferry . Just like bikers they think they own the paths in the park.
I say that as someone who runs. Be respectful of others.
There was a older woman holding a folded whell chair, but they have to make good time. Not one of them is going to the Olympics. They should curb themselves

3
1
Reply
Anne

Hi Chas, I remember seeing you, all apologies for my loudly exclaimed wtf (the full on words). I was that blown away. It reminded me of my neighbor who has jogged around the neighborhood this entire year sans mask. It’s an utterly conceited “it’s all about me” unawareness of our fellow humans with whom we all share this planet.

Reply
Baby out with the bath water

Jimmy. What about Sheila, Lisa and others?
Does their experience mean nothing to you?
Do you want them gone? They have done 10 years? Throwing out good people for potential votes.
It never ends with him.

Reply
Anne

Walking this beautiful Saturday morning at 10:30am, a large group of unmasked joggers came directly at me in the north gantry plaza near the opening to Gantry State Park. Being 63 and not yet fully vaccinated, it was unnerving to say the least. I thought who are these careless individuals? Then I see one of the maskless joggers peel off towards 48th Ave. It was Jimmy Van Bramer.
Even if he is fully vaccinated, he must set an example for others. If his excuse is being unable to wear a mask while running (he was clearly jogging when I encountered him and his large group), medical grade masks are highly breathable under all circumstances. They are the only type I wear that are comfortable for hours on the go and don’t fog my eyeglasses. Medical professionals wear them during 12 hour shifts running around clinics, hospitals and emergency rooms.
I know nothing about Jimmy Van Bramer other than this encounter this morning. What a poor example he set.

11
7
Reply
Gantry Gal

Get over yourself. I can’t stand Little Jimmy but I support his right to run outdoors without a mask on. It’s outdoors for god sake! You and the rest of the mask police really need to get a hold of yourselves.

Reply
Chas

He’s already put younger members on the board after they have volunteered for him. Jimmy just go to the Cayman’s. Goodbye.

10
Reply

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Borough president hears from community members on budget needs throughout Queens

During a two-day public hearing on the mayor’s 2024 preliminary budget, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. listened to testimonies from 14 community board representatives, community stakeholders and members of the public on where the money should be spent in Queens. 

The public hearings were held both in-person and via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Queens Borough Hall. The testimonials will be used to develop the Queens Borough Board’s FY24 preliminary budget priorities in the coming weeks. 

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.

Long Island City teen sentenced in fatal shooting of ‘beloved’ school teacher at Queensbridge Houses in 2020: DA

A Long Island City man on Friday, Jan. 28, was sentenced to 19 years in prison for the 2020 fatal shooting of a public school social studies teacher who was out walking his dog when he was caught in the crossfire during a confrontation between gang rivals in broad daylight, just blocks from his home, according to Queens District Attorney’s office.

Ike Ford, 19, of 12th Street, in Long Island City, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the first degree before Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder. The teacher, George Rosa, 53, was shot in his abdomen by a stray bullet fired by Ford, who was just 17 years old at the time of the shooting but was sentenced as an adult given the severity of the crime, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

LaGuardia Community College receives federal funding to expand vocational training for the unemployed

LaGuardia Community College recently received more than $400,000 in federal funding to enhance and expand vocational training for underemployed New Yorkers in a city that is still working to recover from COVID-19 pandemic-induced job loss. The support was secured by U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and former Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney.

LaGuardia Community College President Kenneth Adams explained that the school lost nearly a quarter of its students at the height of the pandemic due to the economic effects of the lockdown on low-income Queens households.

BP launches new advisory panel for youth to become civically engaged in the future of Queens

In an effort to get more young people involved in civics, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards has created a new advisory panel known as the Youth and Young Adult Council to introduce the “youngest and fiercest” community advocates to both community service and organization.

Members of the advisory body will advocate concerns through means of community engagement by participating in one of two cohorts. The first will be made up of high school representatives between the ages of 13 and 17, while the second cohort will be comprised of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.