The LES Dwellers Call for Dissolution of 7th Precinct Community Council
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The flashpoint local block association, LES Dwellers, are again at the forefront of controversy. This time, ire is directed toward the 7th Precinct Community Council for purported lack of transparency. The proverbial straw that broke the Hell Square back was cancellation of the scheduled public session at the last community affairs meeting on Wednesday.
From the mailbag:
The L.E.S. Dwellers, a grassroots group of residents on the Lower East Side, calls for the resignation of Council President Donald West and for dissolving the 7th Precinct Community Council entirely due to lack of years of substantive and representative community input, violation of New York State Open Meetings Law, and transparency.
At its May monthly 7th Precinct Community Council meeting, which had been rescheduled to the third Wednesday of the month to accommodate a firearms presentation, President Donald West unilaterally and abruptly canceled the public session after the presentation and despite the item being on the agenda. His undemocratic action silenced the nearly 30 voices of residents and local business owners who came to address community concerns and safety.
“We are outraged by the blatant behavior of President Don West. The purposeful obstruction of direct communication between the police and community is in direct violation of the mission of this citywide forum. This community deserves an open, honest, and ethical Precinct Community Councilone run with honesty and integrity. Unfortunately, Mr. West who has served 26 years as the de facto liaison between the community and the 7th Precinct has not only fallen short but has for years willfully disenfrachised and limited large sections of this diverse community from participating in the public process.”
For the last fifteen years under Mr. West’s leadership, the 7th Precinct Community Council has long been dominated by bar and nightlife operators with very few residents participating. While bar and nightlife operators spent years making their presence known by attending the monthly council meetings en masse and serving on the council as officers, i.e. Vice President, Secretary, Sergeant at Arms, Treasurer, etc., residents and lawabiding businesses were discouraged from participation in the process, creating a vacuum of balanced and inclusive community input on quality of life, crime and public safety with the CO of the local precinct and the Community Affairs office.
The appointment of CO Simonetti to the 7th Precinct last year and his commitment to the mission of community policing deserves praise for rebuilding the bridge between community stakeholders and the 7th Precinct distinctly from that of the civilian 7th Precinct Community Council. The impressive Community Affairs Officers and the Precinct as a whole under CO Simonetti’s command has invigorated and given hope to the many residents and local businesses who have long felt disenfranchised and silenced. However, the ongoing obstruction of the civilianled 7th Precinct Community Council President Don West must end. The long years of procedural abuse, lack of transparency and community exclusion is not in line with new era of community policing.
The L.E.S. Dwellers will petition for an investigation into this matter since Wednesday’s meeting represented an ongoing pattern of abuse of the parliamentary process and appears to be in violation of the charter and bylaws.
Mr. West publicly stated that he had the sole discretionary power to change the agenda, taking full responsibility for abandoning the public session and abruptly adjourning the meeting, telling the attendees who came to speak that the firearms demonstration “was more important” than the public meeting.
“The L.E.S. Dwellers have worked hard to make a difference in the community. We have fought hard to restore balance and fairness. We have great respect for the officers of the 7th Precinct who work tirelessly to help resolve the deteriorated conditions caused by illegal nightlife operations in Hell Square. After last night’s 7th Precinct Community Council meeting, it’s clear the rogue, civilianled council is not about community stakeholders, residents and local businesses, being able discuss and find solutions to publicsafety problems in our neighborhood.