2013-04-10 / Front Page

Content Removed From Fake Community Board Website

By Liz Goff

Facing possible legal action by city attorneys, the anonymous authors of a fake Community Board 1 (CB1) website have temporarily pulled the plug on the online “parody.”

The unknown authors removed all content from the page and left a message saying the fake website “…is a parody and protected free speech. Needless to say, it does not have any relation with any actual community board or governmental agency,” the statement said.

“But based on the threat of legal action from the City of New York, the site is temporarily being taken down>’

Attorneys at the New York City Department of Law are trying to determine the roots of the website that had been masquerading as the official online page of Community Board 1 in Astoria.

The website criticized the board for being out of touch with area residents, claimed CB1 is against bicycle initiatives and said the board represents “only the interests of business and property owners,” saying that most residents within Community Board 1 are tenants.

CBI board members said the board is in touch with the needs of the community and has supported bicycle initiatives. In fact, board officials last year came up with a reasonable solution to a request for a bicycle parking facility in the area, board members said.

When local officials last year opposed the creation of a bicycle “corral” outside a restaurant on Broadway in Astoria, board members came up with a compromise that would address the need for bicycle parking in the highly congested commercial neighborhood.

Community Board officials approached officials at the city Department of Transportation and the Queens Library, who agreed to install a “corral” at an on-sidewalk site next to the Broadway Library branch, located on Broadway between Steinway and 41 Streets, that will accommodate more than two dozen bicycles.

The corral will be located across the street from the originally proposed site, Community Board officials said.

CBI district manager Lucille Hartmann discounted accusations that were posted on the fake website, including a claim that the board is “too chummy” with local elected officials.

“Cooperation between city residents and local elected officials is one of the things that makes this city work,” Hartmann said. “We are fortunate that our elected officials are willing to work with the board and with residents to maintain quality of life in the board area.”

City Councilmember Peter Vallone, Jr. echoed Hartmann, saying,  “It’s a shame that some anonymous morons would make false accusations against a hard working, voluntary community board,

“If these people have a complaint, they should put their name to it,” Vallone said.

Law enforcement sources said city attorneys had recently posted a message on the website, advising the author(s) to post a disclaimer on the site.

The author(s) responded by posting a disclaimer in small typeface at the edge of a photo, making it difficult for the public to see, the sources said.

The sources said the city is continuing its investigation to determine who authored the website. A spokesperson for the city Law Department refused to further comment on the ongoing investigation.


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