CB8's district manager revolving door must stop


Was it a dream? Or was it just a waste of time?

Those are questions both Community Board 8 members and the community will have to ask themselves as a search for its fourth district manager in two years is set to begin.

Michael Heller — someone heavily endorsed on this very page just a few months back — has called it quits. The lettering on CB8’s glass office door on Riverdale Avenue isn’t even quite dry.

So what happened? Heller says it was simply his time to finally relax. But it’s hard to believe he couldn’t come to that conclusion before taking the job.

When Heller was first selected from 50 applicants in April, he was not just qualified for the important job of district manager, he was overqualified. 

And what looked like a great way to head toward an eventual retirement, although many saw that as years away, not months.

Heller has a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University, and spent three decades in community affairs and public relations not just for the city transit authority, but also the Montefiore Medical System, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Jacobi Medical Center.

For whatever reason, however, Heller didn’t quite click with this position. And it likely didn’t help that the board offered him $75,000 for CB8’s top paid position. While that’s above what officials described as a typical pay range for district managers, it’s not by much. Even more, Heller was paid well below the $100,000 salary of one of his predecessors, Nicole Stent, an oversight that could have very well led to his early departure.

That means all the time and resources spent finding and bringing Heller in just last spring will have to start all over again. 

And yet, once again this will be a process taking place behind closed doors. CB8 will collect resumes, but we as the people CB8 represents, won’t have a chance to review those resumes as well.

We’ll only become a part of the process after a decision already has been made. Does that remind you of a certain city homeless services department who waited until the last minute to spring a new transitional shelter on the community?

CB8 raised hell about the lack of transparency involved with 5731 Broadway. 

It screamed and complained about the lack of transparency involved in traffic calming measures for Broadway north of that proposed facility.

Yet, CB8 doesn’t see the irony here. Finding a district manager shouldn’t be an annual event. Or a semi-annual event.  This is our government, not an episode of “American Idol” (and even that reality competition show has more transparency in its selection process).

It’s actually a sad day in Riverdale and Kingsbridge that Heller is leaving. We still stand behind him as a superior candidate for district manager.

But CB8 faces one of its toughest tests yet in finding the right person to replace Heller. 

And they better believe, we’re all going to be watching.