March 24, 1988
Council OKs Panel Member
Clara Hemphill

The City Council has approved a new member to the Landmarks Preservation Commission over the angry protests of preservation groups that accused the mayor of stacking the commission with yes-men.

By a vote of 20-12, the council Tuesday approved Lee Weintraub, a landscape architect from Staten Island, to replace maverick Anthony Tung, who has served on the commission for eight years.

Mayor Edward I. Koch refused to reappoint Tung to the unpaid post last year after he opposed the Koch administration's plan to build a restaurant in Bryant Park behind the Public Library.

Council member Ruth Messinger (D-Manhattan) praised Tung as a "distinguished" commission member "who chose to speak out regularly against many interests," including the Koch administration and city developers.

The Weintraub appointment "sends a chilling message that those who speak out and ruffle feathers will not be allowed to speak as members of commissions," Messinger said during a spirited council debate.

Other council members said there had been a vacancy on the 11-member board for a year, but that the mayor has made no attempt to fill it. Instead, Weintraub was nominated to fill Tung's seat, although Tung had asked to serve another three-year term.

Weintraub's supporters praised his work in designing city parks and his ability to work with community groups.

Tung, who fought for 14 months to save his post on the commission, was a gracious loser Tuesday. "I'm overwhelmed and gratified by the amount of support generated," he said.

Absent from Tuesday's vote was Council Member Jerome O'Donovan (D-Staten Island), who said he was in Washington to raise money for his campaign for Congress. O'Donovan had supported Tung until last week, but changed his mind and said he would support Weintraub at the request of the Koch administration.

The mayor said he would drop in on another O'Donovan fund-raiser in Staten Island last night.