Menin removes Landman after charged remarks


By Julie Shapiro

Community Board 1 Chairperson Julie Menin removed Rick Landman as chairperson of the Planning and Community Infrastructure Committee this week.

Menin’s decision came amid a furor over remarks Landman made in last week’s Downtown Express that were critical of Menin and the community board. Landman also said he planned to leave the board in the spring when his term expires.

“After his comments, I think it was pretty obvious that something was going to happen,” said Andrew Neale, co-chairperson of the Tribeca Committee. “The comments he made were pretty despicable.”

Landman criticized C.B. 1 for being too focused on children’s issues and referred to members as “soccer moms” and Menin’s “flunkies” in the Express’s UnderCover column.

“I had about 20 e-mails and phone calls from both board members and members of the public outraged over these comments,” Menin wrote in an e-mail to Downtown Express. “We never can have various groups pitted against each other… Pejoratively attacking a certain segment of the board for wanting to build a future for the next generation is unproductive and only serves to divide and alienate people.”

Menin said she removed Landman because he is planning to leave the board and she wanted “someone who is focused long term.” She appointed Jeff Galloway to replace him because Galloway is a lawyer with “strong drafting and analytical skills” who has experience with planning and ULURP (uniform land use review procedure), Menin wrote.

“I’m thrilled,” Galloway said the day after his appointment. “I think it’s important work.”

Landman said he and Menin decided it would be best for him to step down as chairperson and he will finish out his term as a committee member.

“I have had no problem staying on that committee and not being the chair,” Landman wrote in an e-mail. “My goal is to help the community — I don’t need to be the chair.”

“Some words are deal breakers,” Nadel said. “If he’d said too much attention is paid to families, OK. But ‘soccer moms’? That’s something else.”

Landman confirmed the “gist” of his remarks in a Letter to The Editor in this week’s paper (page 16), pointing out that youth are the only group that has a committee to represent their interests. Downtown Express did incorrectly report that Landman concealed his sexual identity when he first applied to be a member of a community board 30 years ago.

Carole De Saram, chairperson of the Tribeca Committee who has had many disagreements with Landman over the years, said he has been disruptive at meetings, and that he has fallen out with previous C.B. 1 chairpersons as well.

“He has a problem, but that should not be the community and the community board’s problem,” De Saram said. “It’s not fair to the community.”

The Planning Committee, charged with drafting a master plan for Greenwich south, lost valuable time on this project under Landman’s leadership, Menin said.

Landman replied that his committee drafted a resolution for Greenwich south last month, and then it went to the Financial District Committee for feedback. The resolution, which Landman said is “quite timely,” will return to the Planning Committee in December.

Menin added that several people left the Planning Committee because they were “frustrated with Rick’s chairing of the committee,” particularly Landman’s focus on the role of the committee, which has been a source of contention. Landman has criticized the power of C.B. 1’s neighborhood committees, and wanted to centralize land use planning in one committee.

Landman now hopes people will “fight to reform the structure of how planning is done at C.B. 1.” Landman said he had strong, but not unanimous support on the committee.

Menin would consider altering the committee structure if the majority of board members supported the change. Several years ago, the majority wanted to keep the current structure, she said.

Some think that the Planning Committee itself is what needs to change.

“A lot of people on the board questioned whether there was any need for the Planning Committee to begin with,” Neale said. “The geographical committees dealt with issues very well for long time, and will continue to do so.”

For now, Galloway said it’s too soon into his term to start changing the role of the committee.

“There is a history of geographic committees — and that has worked by and large,” he said. He expects to work with the geographic committees on planning issues that fall into their territory.

Galloway looks forward to working with Landman, saying, “I hope to draw on his resources.”