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BP Diaz axes board members

Bronx Times

Members of a struggling community board have limped off to summer break after suffering a bloodbath by the borough president.

Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. swung an ax at Soundview’s Community Board 9, chopping six members slated for re-appointment.

It was the second Diaz blood-letting there, after he replaced 15 members with new ones last year, hoping they would vote the board’s long-time district manager out of of office.

His latest decision has current and former members suspecting it’s part of the BP’s longtime plan to again try to remove 20-year District Manager Francisco Gonzalez, who’s tangled over the years with Diaz and his state Senate father, Ruben Diaz Sr.

The board, also covering Castle Hill and Parkchester, has been in turmoil for some time as infighting kept members from dealing with local issues.

“We’ve had a tumultuous year,” Chairwoman Cheryl Marrow said at the June 20th general board meeting before summer break.

Marrow was among those voting - unsuccessfully - at a December general board meeting to remove Gonzalez.

Charge Diaz vendetta

“It’s a vendetta-oriented organization,” charged Steven Rivera, former first vice chair of CB 9, shown the door along with Ahia Muhammed, Lydia Bauza, Mohammed Chowdhury, Mary Goytia, and Hector Osorio.

Seven members didn’t seek re-appointment, and Diaz has not picked any replacements.

“Community board appointments and reappointments are made at the discretion of the borough president, in consultation with the local City Council members,” said Diaz spokesman John DeSio. “We have a long internal process.”

But Rivera maintains their terminations stemmed from voting against the December motion to remove Gonzalez after chairwoman Marrow informed members Gonzalez was being investigated by the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board for allegedly misusing CB 9’s offices to run his nonprofit Bronx Puerto Rican Day Parade.

Ouster try fails

Rivera, remaining neutral between Diaz Jr. and Gonzalez, voted against the motion since he said COIB didn’t issue a conclusion at the time.

“I didn’t jump on the bandwagon,” said Rivera. “I voted for him so he can get his due process.”

The five others joined Rivera, saving Gonzalez, who was later fined an undisclosed amount by the COIB.

With Rivera sees his termination with a silver lining, since he could no longer deal with a board largely consumed by the Diaz-Gonzalez feud.

Current member Angel Miranda said he stopped attending meetings April, contributing to the board’s lack of a quorum.

“I have better stuff to do,” Miranda said. Appointed by Diaz Jr. last year, Miranda maintains the BP sat him and 14 new members down in May 2012 to discuss the coup against Gonzalez.

“The whole year, CB9 has spent efforts to try and remove Gonzalez,” Miranda said.

History Repeats Itself

No other board has faced a higher number of member dismissals.

The last major board cut was in 2007 when then Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr. “fired” several Community Board 4 members who voted against the building of the new Yankee Stadium.

Carrion’s press secretary brushed off the revenge allegations, instead calling it an effort to expand community involvement.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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