After 45 years and 65 days at the job, manager of Brooklyn’s Community Board 1 Gerald Esposito announced his retirement, effective immediately, to a stunned executive board at an August 31 meeting.
Or rather, he let Chairwoman Dealice Fuller do it for him. While Esposito said that he gave his notice two weeks prior, this was the first time CB1 was hearing about it.
“To learn about it like this, this is like, a shocker” CB1 member Maria Viera said.
One of the first questions on everyone’s mind was, of course, what will happen to the car?
Esposito came under scrutiny a few years ago when THE CITY reported that he spent $26,000 of taxpayer money on a car. The car was purchased through money from a one-time grant from the City Council, given to community boards across the city, but “the Williamsburg board was the only one of the city’s 59 community boards to use any of the $42,500 budget-booster to buy a vehicle,” THE CITY writes.
Car troubles aside, CB1 must scramble to figure out how to quickly fill the vacancy left by Esposito, though the loss of almost 50 years worth of institutional knowledge will certainly sting. A district manager is a crucial position for a community board. While the Board consists of volunteers, district managers are paid staff members in charge of the Board’s office.
Without a clear transition plan in place, members expressed frustration at the lack of guidance and pressed Chair Fuller about why they hadn’t heard the announcement sooner. Fuller said that it did not occur to her to inform the whole board at that time, and she figured she would announce it at the next meeting.
At a follow-up meeting on September 6, Chair Fuller said that while she contacted the office of the borough president, she was told that they cannot hire someone for this position until the fiscal year ends in 2023, due to budget constraints. It was suggested that the current Community Associate, Johana Pulgarin, take over running the office.
“One person cannot do this,” said member Del Teague in response. “They cannot keep the office open five days a week and run all of the committee meetings at night.”
In the meantime, Fuller advised that the committee members should pick up some of the slack until they find a solution.
“The board members have to chip in? What do you mean?” replied Teague. “The board members have to come in and leave their jobs and come in from 9 to 5 and run the office? That’s nonsense.”