UPDATE: BP Gibson boots six members from Bronx CB11 following chair and vice chair removal proceedings

Gibson expresses her frustration with Bronx Community Board 11's "chaos" and "dysfunction" in 2023.
Gibson expresses her frustration with Bronx Community Board 11’s “chaos” and “dysfunction” in 2023.
File photo Steven Goodstein

Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson removed six members from Bronx Community Board 11 last week in a heated conclusion to the dysfunction tarnishing the body for months. 

Gibson removed former CB11 Vice Chair Al D’Angelo — who the board stripped of his leadership role last month — from the board on May 20. Gibson also didn’t reappoint five others the same day: board members Chun Chun, Christine Culpepper De Ruiz, Malcom Gray, Serena Muñiz and Keith Ramsey. 

CB 11 serves the neighborhoods of Allerton, Indian Village, Morris Park, Pelham Gardens, Pelham Parkway and Van Nest.

Gibson’s office didn’t answer specific Bronx Times questions about why she chose to remove the group of six, only saying that “reappointments are made at the discretion of the Bronx Borough President and in consultation with the Bronx City Council delegation.”

The BP’s office did confirm, however, that she didn’t have to provide written explanation to the board officers she booted last week.

D’Angelo, who according to the board had been a CB11 member for 20 years, told the Bronx Times in an interview on May 29 that he believes members of the board were “stacked” against him after an article published by The City last fall highlighted the column D’Angelo penned in the Bronx Times in April 2023, where he questioned why “Black Americans are the least educated, least healthy and among the most incarcerated ethnic group in the country” and stated that it was time to start addressing the “elephant in the room” about “Black children … born out of wedlock” with “no father figure in their lives.”

D’Angelo told the Bronx Times that he originally planned to retire from CB11 last summer, but after his article sparked controversy, he wanted to stay until it was resolved.

“Look, I’m 81 years old. I’m tired of going to meetings late at night,” D’Angelo said. “But when this came out I wasn’t going to walk away with that … over my head. So I stayed until I could prove that what I wrote was not detrimental, not meant to be detrimental.”

CB11 board member Phyllis Nastasio hands in her letter of resignation during a chaotic full board meeting on Thursday, April 25, 2024.
Al D’Angelo speaks on the microphone during a chaotic Community Board 11 meeting on Thursday, April 25, 2024.Screenshot Bronx CB11

The former vice chair also called attention to the board’s unsoundness, even saying some other members have been “toxic.”

“It’s just a dysfunctional board. The borough president was right to complain about what was going on,” D’Angelo said. “I’m glad some of those people are removed because they were absolutely toxic on that community board.”

The mass riddance comes on the heels of heightened tensions between board members themselves and the borough president’s office, which have been brewing for nearly two years now. CB11 made headlines in 2022 and 2023 for its chaotic meetings over the Just Home proposal to house formerly incarcerated people at Jacobi Hospital, so-called conflicts of interest during campaign season — wherein former board Chair Bernadette Ferrara ran for City Council while at her CB11 post despite Gibson’s discontent — and ethics committee complaints, to name a few.

But the most recent shakeups occurred this spring, when CB11 board members voted to strip both Ferrara’s and D’Angelo’s leadership titles during the body’s full meeting on April 25. 

The effort to take away Ferrara’s chair title primarily came from Gibson and other board members who claimed she neglected her duties while campaigning for the CD-13 council seat against Marjorie Velázquez in the June 2023 local primary, which she went on to lose. After losing the chair last month, Ferrara resigned from the board altogether — claiming Gibson brought her own personal politics for Velázquez to the board during the June 2023 primary and that some members of CB11 had “an agenda” against her and D’Angelo. 

D’Angelo, on the other hand, was criticized by multiple board members after his article — which he wrote as the president of the Morris Park Civic Association — was printed in the Bronx Times last summer. One of those people was Gray, who both Ferrara and D’Angelo have accused of leading the efforts to oust them from their leadership positions.

Gray — who was one of the six removed from CB11 last week — didn’t respond to two Bronx Times interview requests for this story, but has argued in a past statement that he’s just one person who voted to strip the pair of their titles.

“I would not say that I’m a leader of any attempt to strip the chair and vice chair of their titles. I am one of 23 members who voted in favor of this board needing a drastic change,” Gray told the Bronx Times after the board’s April 25 meeting. “If anyone had written a column demeaning any race, ethnicity, religion or creed, their jobs would immediately be put in jeopardy and [the] majority of our board members do not want to be associated with that.”

CB11 District Manager Jeremy Warneke, left, and board member Malcom Gray, right with the microphone, try to settle a full meeting on Thursday, April 25, 2024.
CB11 District Manager Jeremy Warneke, left, and board member Malcom Gray, right with the microphone, try to settle a full meeting on Thursday, April 25, 2024.Screenshot Bronx CB11

According to CB11 records obtained by the Bronx Times, D’Angelo faced leadership removal for his column, as well as other reasons — including “offending the laws” of the body and absenteeism. D’Angelo, however, refuted these claims in an interview with the Bronx Times on May 29, saying that his column was the primary charge lodged against him.

The recent shakeup on CB11 isn’t the only series of dramatic events during D’Angelo’s two-decade tenure. In 2019, the board, under D’Angelo’s leadership, was on the receiving end of two Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaints filed by CB11 District Manager Jeremy Warneke that alleged gender stereotyping discrimination. While D’Angelo was the chair at the time, Warneke accused former Vice Chair Anthony Vitaliano and former Sergeant at Arms Frano Zagreda for creating a hostile work environment. The New York State Division of Human Rights, however, declared the gender discrimination complaint unfounded last year.

Other board members have also left the body recently, including Miguel Dyer — who Gibson removed last December for flipping the middle finger at a community member during a virtual meeting — as well as Phyllis Nastasio, who resigned in the middle of the board’s April 25 meeting where the body voted to strip Ferrara and D’Angelo of their leadership roles.

D’Angelo defended his time as a community leader in the East Bronx and his column published in the Bronx Times, but did say he “apologize[s] if I hurt anybody’s feelings, that wasn’t my intent. My intent was to bring light on a problem that is affecting our society.”

The former CB11 vice chair said he’s still going to be active in the East Bronx, including at the Morris Park Civic Association and on the NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi board.

While Gibson’s office hadn’t sent the Bronx Times a comment on the removals last week, in a statement after the April 25 meeting when Ferrara and D’Angelo lost their leadership titles she said “some members moved forward with the removal process solely to embarrass” the pair of board volunteers.

“Reappointments are currently before me for consideration, as are applications from new applicants,” Gibson said in a statement on April 29. “We will soon have a new Community Board 11, refreshed in membership and refocused on serving the beautiful communities that they represent.”

When asked this week whether or not Gibson already has applicants in mind to replace the group of six, her office told the Bronx Times that new appointments will soon be made to all 12 Bronx community boards.

This story was last updated at 2:04 p.m. on May 29. 

Reach Camille Botello at cbotello@schnepsmedia.com. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes