Closed session will pick new manager

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Patricia Manning’s 30 years with Community Board 8 came to an end last month. Who will replace her as district manager has been shrouded in mystery, though it may already have been decided.

CB8 members planned to hold an executive session Wednesday after The Press went to print. In all probability, they intend to discuss Manning’s replacement. 

For more than a month, a special three-person hiring committee has searched for someone to take over the position Manning had held since 2015. They collected applications, interviewed candidates, and could present CB8 with a final candidate as early as this month. The board will then hold a public vote.

Yet, it’s not until that vote that any of the process becomes public, board chair Daniel Padernacht said. He explained that members of the committee aren’t releasing any names to provide confidentiality for those who may not want their current bosses knowing they’ve applied. 

Padernacht would not release the names of any of the applicants, citing a New York State statute that gives boards like CB8 the option to keep that information secret. 

While typically, the public has a right to know what its government is up to, sometimes it just takes a little trust, said Bob Freeman, spokesman for the New York Committee on Open Government. 

“That’s the Spike Lee principle of law,” he said. “Do the right thing.

“We have to assume that people in government, by and large, are honest, that they do the right thing, and that they serve the public interest to the extent that they possibly can.”

Some applicants for the position, however, have been open about their pursuit of the job. Former board member Robert Press, for example, has been very vocal about his desire to be the next district manager. 

Although Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. didn’t reappoint Press to the CB8 board last year, he’s remained active in the community, often attending board meetings and making public comments. 

However, there could be a different trend in the works. 

For example, in Bronx Community Board 9 — which covers southeast portions of the borough — William Rivera vacated his seat as the board’s chair after his colleagues selected him as the district manager in 2015. Something similar happened in Bronx Community Board 2, where a current member of the board was chosen to fill the management job, which typically pays about $70,000.

No one outside the board officially knows who has applied for Manning’s job. Padernacht wouldn’t comment whether he or any other board member applied, so it’s not clear if what happened in CB9 and CB2 could happen in CB8 as well.

Freeman, whose state-run committee oversees public access to the governing process, said concerned residents will likely just have to let that lack of information lie. 

“There are situations where, for obvious reasons, you will not know the identities of the applicants for a certain position,” he said. 

“Do you know the Rolling Stones principle of law? You can’t always get what you want.”

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