An embattled district manager at an east Bronx community board has temporarily escaped getting the ax.
Community Board 9 members rejected a motion to boot longtime district manager Francisco Gonzalez at their December meeting.
Gonzalez, who could still face a removal vote next month, is under fire as city investigators look into claims he misused the board’s office to run the Bronx Puerto Rican Day Parade. At the Dec. 20 general board meeting, two-year member William Rivera initially put the “out of the blue” removal request to a vote.
Among other complaints, Rivera protested Gonzalez’s non-binding approval of liquor licenses to eateries, along with the lack of an operable website.
The board covers Soundview, Parkchester, Castle Hill and Unionport.
But the motion fell short by just two votes, as abstentions and nayers prevailed.
Among those defeating the motion was Angel Miranda, a newly-appointed member who spoke in support of Gonzalez. “He can give great years to the community board,” he told the Bronx Times.
But despite Gonzalez’s latest victory, he’s still under investigation from the city Department of Investigation for allegedly running the Bronx Puerto Rican Day Parade non-profit, which lost its 501(c)(3) status after not paying taxes for six years.
Chairwoman Cheryl Marrow shed light on the investigation for the sake of other CB9 members during the meeting, a point Gonzalez’s attorney argues violated his privacy rights.
“I can assure you,” Gonzalez told The Bronx Times, “at the end of the day, the Bronx Puerto Rican Day Parade documents can prove the parade hasn’t done anything wrong.”
The motion to remove Gonzalez stretches back over a decade, with the latest attempt last in May after Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. axed fifteen CB9 members, including longtime chairman Al Heyward, with Diaz failing to re-appoint them.
Miranda charged that Diaz told newly appointed members that he wanted them to dump Gonzalez.
“Diaz Jr. said they were bringing in new members because they feel the need to remove Gonzalez,” said Miranda, adding that Tom Lucania, the BP’s director of community boards, and General Counsel Al Rodriguez were on hand at the Borough Hall meeting.
Gonzalez has had bad blood with Diaz Jr. and his senator father Ruben Sr. for years, according to former CB9 member Ken Padilla.
Padilla was chosen for the board in 2002 and claims Diaz Sr., then Councilman for the 18th district, picked him with the stated goal of staging a coup against Gonzalez.
That never came to light. Padilla soon changed sides, saying he became convinced Gonzalez was an effective leader, and the animosity against him was simply “personal and political.”
Gonzalez’s fate mirrors former Community Board 7 district manager Fernando Tirado, who survived an ouster attempt at a September general board meeting. He later resigned to take a job at a Long Island charity.
Felicia Contreras, another pro-Gonzalez member, said she expects another attempt at removing Gonzalez at the next CB9 general board meeting Jan.17.
“I’m sure it’s not over, but this is causing the board to be divided,” she said. “We’re losing sight of what we’re really here for.”
David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383