By LOUIS FLORES
Borough President Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan), who has a role appointing some members to various Manhattan Community boards, refused to comment about the pattern of conflicts of interest found by the city's Conflicts of Interest Board at Manhattan Community Board 2.
Specifically, Borough President Brewer's press office refused to answer a request made by Progress Queens to interview Borough President Brewer over the misconduct by Manhattan Community Board 2 members.
Since November 2014, the Conflicts of Interest Board has fined each of Jo Hamilton and John Sweeney at Manhattan Community Board 2 for having separately accepted gratuity from the same business, Soho House, the exclusive, membership-only social club.
During Ms. Hamilton's and Mr. Sweeney's service on Manhattan Community Board 2, the Soho House has had matters come up before Manhattan Community Board 2.
City officials are forbidden by the City Charter to accept gifts from entities if the acceptance will sway the actions of city officials.
Borough President Brewer was recently embarrassed after The Villager published a report indicating that an outspoke reform member of Manhattan Community Board 3, Ayo Harrington, was relieved from her service following complaints made by Ms. Harrington that there was a lack of diversity in leadership positions in Manhattan Community Board 3.
The refusal to address the Community Board 2 member misconduct by Borough President Brewer adds to the culture of silence by other officials. As reported by Progress Queens, District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. (D-Manhattan) likewise refused to comment about the pattern of misconduct at Community Board 2.
The Conflicts of Interest Board has the power and authority to fine city officials, but it has no jurisdiction over Soho House or other businesses or special interests, which may corrupt the work of Community Boards. With each of the Manhattan Borough President's office and the Manhattan District Attorney's office refusing to publicly address the pattern misconduct at Community Boards, it's unclear which government agency or office will lead the charge to enforce the law and impose stricter compliance at the city's Community Boards.