Racist Remarks Could Oust CB 9 Member

BY LUIS GRONDA
Staff Writer

A Community Board 9 member could be kicked off the board for allegedly making anti-Semitic comments towards three other board members.

CB 9 will vote at their next meeting, on Nov. 12, to possibly remove Sam Esposito from the board for cause.

Esposito is accused of making anti-Semitic remarks to three other board members, Evelyn Baron, Wally Bock and Jan Fenster, in an email earlier this year. Bock submitted a letter to CB 9 Chairman James Coccovillo, co-signed by Baron and Fenster, asking for Esposito’s removal.

According to the email, which was obtained by the Queens Tribune, Esposito said the three board members complained about food that was served before its meeting in June of this year.

Esposito wrote that the trio said the food at the pre-meeting dinner was not “Kosher enough” and complained to the board’s staff that there was nothing to eat for the board members who observe Kosher. He wrote that Fenster called another board member, Rabbi Daniel Pollack, to complain about the food and that Baron blamed the CB 9 office staff for ordering the wrong food that night and accused Esposito of trying to bully the board’s executive committee.

In the email, Esposito used several adjectives to describe their alleged actions including “unthankful,” “insensitive,” and “juvenile” and referenced the Jewish religion multiple times throughout the three-page email.

“But after seeing what I saw at the meeting, if that is what being Jewish is all about, I would rather be atheist because I was raised proper with respect and much different than you three,” he said.

In the letter sent to Coccovillo requesting Esposito’s removal, which was also obtained by the Queens Tribune, the board members wrote that his comments in the email were anti-Semitic.

“It is submitted that said email, both with respect to the vicious anti-Semitic diatribe against the religion which I practice… which have failed to establish on my part, constitute the impugning or bringing into question my integrity, honesty and character,” Bock wrote in the letter.

When reached by phone, Esposito, although declining to speak specifically about the allegations, said the request for his removal is retaliation from Coccovillo, and the three members he sent the letter to, for supporting District Manager Mary Ann Carey when they wanted to remove her earlier this year. Back in June, the board considered removing Carey as DM but ultimately decided to let her stay on a probationary period.

He added he is confident that the board will vote to let him stay and three-quarters of the board will speak on his behalf.

When asked about the item on the agenda, Coccovillo said it was brought forth by the three members Esposito directed his emails towards and it has nothing to do with him personally. According to the CB 9 chair, after trying to reach him several times about their request, Coccovillo personally handed him the letter regarding the motion at last month’s meeting. The letter requesting his removal was sent in June and the item did not make the board’s agenda until this month.

Responding to Esposito’s allegation, the CB 9 chair said this has nothing to do with showing his support for Carey earlier this year.

“That’s absolutely not true, it’s got nothing to do with the past,” he said. “If you read what’s going on, this is not proper conduct, especially for a board member.”

Multiple board members – including Carey – declined to comment on the matter for this article because it will be discussed behind closed doors and due to the sensitive nature of the conflict.

The Nov. 12 meeting will take place at the Royal Indian Palace at 118-06 Atlantic Ave. in Richmond Hill. It is scheduled to begin at 7:45 p.m.

Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, lgronda@queenstribune.com, or @luisgronda.