A proposed parking fee drew a comparison to sexual assault by a Bronx community board member last month. When a woman criticized him this week for using that language, he showed her his middle finger during an online board meeting.
Now, she says he should be removed — and the borough president’s office is investigating.
Bronx CB 11, which includes neighborhoods Allerton, Indian Village, Morris Park, Pelham Gardens, Pelham Parkway and Van Nest, was having a routine Bylaws Committee meeting on Monday evening when local resident Roxanne Delgado called out board member Miguel Dyer for earlier use of what she felt was inappropriate language.
During the board’s March Transportation Committee meeting, Dyer, accused the Department of Transportation of “raping the people that live here,” refering to a plan to start changing car owners $1000 per year for a previously free parking lot.
“What happened to the code of conduct [of] not interrupting people?” Delgado said Monday while accusing Dyer of breaking decorum rules during that meeting. “In fact that same person has said that DOT is raping the community. As a woman, I find the word rape to be used so loosely.”
As she spoke those words on the video conference, Dyer can be seen rolling his eyes and repeatedly putting his middle finger up to his camera.
Delgado complained on Monday that board members like Dyer got away with constant interruptions and that the board does not hold its members accountable for violating their codes of conduct like they do the general public.
‘I Got Flipped the Bird’
In a Tuesday interview with THE CITY, Delgado called for Dyer’s removal from the board and said she is hesitant on how actively she wants to participate in future board meetings.
“I’m so embarrassed. I got flipped the bird in the meeting. It’s unbelievable,” she said. “The borough president has to step up and start removing board members when they violate the code of conduct.”
Michael Ivory, a spokesperson for Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, told THE CITY that their office would look into the matter.
“As an administration, we do not condone disrespectful and/or hateful behavior directed at our community board members, community board attendees, or members of the public. This incident will be thoroughly investigated,” Ivory said.
CB11 Chair Bernadette Ferrara — who employs Dyer as treasurer of her City Council campaign as she looks to unseat District 14 incumbent Marjorie Velázquez — said a formal complaint was filed with the board’s ethics committee.
“Community Board 11 takes all of our Rules of Conduct seriously with the public and its Board Members who choose to cross the line. Mr. Dyer has already taken the necessary steps with Ms. Delgado and the Chair/Co-Chair of the By-Laws Committee and its Members,” Ferrara wrote to THE CITY on Wednesday. “This formal complaint will take its place in line with the Ethics Committee to be resolved if needed.”
Dyer also sits on the Ethics Committee but he told THE CITY on Wednesday he would recuse himself.
According to the city charter, a CB member can be removed for cause by either the borough president or through a majority vote from the board. Reasons can include “misconduct of a substantial nature, indicating some neglect of duty” or “something which materially affects his official act or his standing” or reflects upon their character.
‘Miguel, Don’t Do That’
Immediately following the incident on Monday, CB 11 Bylaws Committee Chair David Leavitt then reprimanded his colleague.
“No. Miguel, Miguel, don’t do that. That is a violation of our rules of conduct. Miguel, this meeting is being recorded.” he said. “And don’t be surprised if that is not brought to the attention of the borough president’s office. That was entirely inappropriate.”
Delgado, a 25-year resident of Pelham Parkway, who recently submitted an application to be a board member after having been previously rejected three separate times, then said Dyer’s gesture was not surprising and thanked Leavitt for enforcing the rules of conduct.
Dyer later apologized to Delgado in an email shared with THE CITY — saying he didn’t know his video was turned on.
“Miss Delgado, I would like to apologize for my reaction last night in the CB11 Bylaws Committee meeting. I did not realize my camera was on, and I regret that I allowed myself to be triggered by your comments,” he wrote “I acknowledge that it was a violation of the code of conduct and will not happen again. I hope that you can accept my sincere apology.”
Delgado told THE CITY the apology was unacceptable.
“That’s not much of an apology. It basically blames me for his behavior,” she said.
Delgado remains unsure how actively she will participate in meetings.
“I haven’t made up my mind,” she said. “I’m not here to create trouble. I’m here to create improvements in my community.”
When asked for comment Dyer only referred to the apology email he sent.
The obscene gesture is of course hardly the first instance of tensions running high at a community board meeting, and CB 11 has had its fair share recently..
At an October hearing on the proposed Just Home project that would build housing for formerly incarcerated people with complex medical needs, supporters of the project, including Delgado, were met with shouts and boos, as reported by The Bronx Times.
Confusion also encircled CB11 chair Ferrara after Gibson said she needed to step down from her post to run for City Council.