Part two of the Battle of the Bronx turned out to be a bit of an anticlimax. With no debate, Bronx Community Board 4 voted 23-3 last night (with one abstention and eight absences, for those scoring at home) to rubber-stamp the slate of committee chairs submitted in the wake of Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion’s purge of four board members who’d stood in the way of his Yankees stadium plan. (Six other members left of their own volition.) Present and accounted for were eight board members newly minted by Carrion, all of whom, as expected, voted to confirm the Borough Hall-approved new regime.
The new CB4 chair, since you’re no doubt all wondering: D. Lee Ezell, the board’s longtime municipal services committee chief. At last November’s fateful board meeting where the 16-8 vote was cast against the stadium, Ezell was one of a handful of board members to speak out in favor of the Yankees project—in an impassioned speech that invoked the spirit of Rosa Parks for making it possible “for us to sit down at the same table with corporations who have impacts on our communities”—but she insists that’s not why she was chosen for the job. “I would be insulted if people really thought my position on the stadium had anything to do with this,” she told the Voice following last night’s meeting.
The main event, meanwhile, was not the board’s official business but rather the open mic session that followed, as a long line of locals queued up to blast the borough president’s apparent power grab. Highbridge resident Maria Simmons announced plans to petition for an independent investigation of the CB4 appointments—as for petitioning whom exactly, it was a bit murky, though the mayor and public advocate were the leading candidates. And several speakers compared the Boogie Down’s commitment to democracy unfavorably to that other Fort Apache in the Mideast: “Maybe,” mused audience member Beverly Beja, “the National Guard should be activated to serve in the Bronx.”
As far as the crowd was concerned, though, the clear star of the evening was Louise Williams, one of the Carrion Four. Williams angrily recalled how she was notified by letter that she was being bounced from the board, a move she has little doubt was prompted by her vocal opposition to the stadium project, and vowed to remain active as a private citizen. “I voted Adolfo Carrion in,” she declared to raucous applause from the peanut gallery, “and I will vote him out.”