Friday, March 27, 2009

RIOC Board Delays RIRA Recommendations For Allocation of Roosevelt Island Public Purpose Funds

Pile of Money Image from KR Connect

The Main Street WIRE email bulletin reported the following:
RIOC Board Delays Action on Public Purpose Fund Awards

The RIOC Board this morning tabled recommendations from the Common Council of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association on awards from a $100,000 Public Purpose Fund. The RIOC Board had, for the second year, delegated the allotment of the funds to the residents organization.

RIOC Board member Fay Christian initially asked for the tabling, then withdrew the motion, requesting that the RIRA recommendations be rejected, but another Board member, Patrick Stewart, also moved for tabling. The vote was 5-4.

During the discussion, RIRA President Frank Farance told RIOC Board members that the RIRA subcommittee of four that produced the recommendation, which was approved near-unanimously by the Common Council, had followed RIOC guidelines. Christian objected that The Child School was passed over on a request for something just under $6,000 in funding, rejecting RIRA's explanation that The Child School serves few Island residents.

Stewart suggested there had been a conflict of interest in the awards. That contention received the backing of Sara Seiden and Mandi Ridler of the Roosevelt Island Day Nursery. Ridler said that a representative of Island Kids, Nikki Leopold, had been present when she made a presentation to the RIRA subcommittee, and that her questioning seemed to suggest she was a member of the subcommittee. Farance said she was not, and named the four members.

During discussions at the RIRA Common Council meeting earlier this month, one explanation for favoring Island Kids, with a $36,000 award (the full amount requested), over the Day Nursery, which requested $35,000 but received only $4,000, was that more Island children would be served by support of the Island Kids program.

Christian also objected to the non-award to Orphans International, which had requested $15,000.

During the discussion, Stewart proposed that his RIOC Operations Committee meet soon -- as early as next week -- to consider the matter further, but there was no final resolution of how further decision-making will be scheduled. Farance had made the point that several organizations slated to received funding under the RIRA allocation need information quickly on whether their programs can proceed.

RIOC Board Chair Deborah VanAmerongen told her fellow board members that she was disappointed that the objections and requests for further information about the RIRA recommendation had not been pursued in the ten-day period since the RIOC "board package" was provided to board members. (The board package summarizes items to be discussed, and provides documentation.)

Additional information on the Public Purpose Funds program and the RIRA recommendation is available in the March 7 and March 21 issues of The Main Street WIRE.
I asked RIOC President Steve Shane for comment on what transpired and he replied:
The members of the Board voted 5-4 to table. How RIOC, acting by and through the Board will proceed is not presently known to me and will be at the call of the Chair of the Governance and Ops Cttee.
The web cast of the 3/27 RIOC Board Meeting is not yet available but when it is will be here. I will have more on this later as will the Main Street WIRE's next issue.

UPDATE - 3/29 - According to RIOC there will be a meeting of the Board of Directors Governance Committee on March 31 to discuss and review the Roosevelt Island Public Purpose Funding.
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a meeting of the Governance Advisory Committee of the RIOC Board of Directors will be held on Tuesday, March 31, 2009 at 4:00 p.m. at the RIOC administrative office, 591 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, New York. The committee will discuss and review the Public Purpose Funds and Public Purpose Funds procedures.


Anonymous said...

Wow...RIRA President Frank Farance actually had the audacity to try and cover the fact that Nikki Leopold sitting at the table, was not a conflict of interest. Nikki Leopold, who is a representative of Island Kids, actually gave the impression she was part of the sub-committee by being present and asking questions. Farance told the Board she was not part of the sub-committee, and named the four members who were. Funny how Island kids received $36,000 (the full amount requested), but the Day Nursury received just 4,000 (when they applied for nearly the same amount).

Anonymous said...

Isn't Farance the guy who was not selected to be a RIOC Board Member? Seems like he thinks he has more power as the RIRA President. Sneaky, sneaky, sneaky...

Anonymous said...

I a really glad to see that the elected RIOC board members did not end up to be the RIRA's string puppets like some of use feared.

Was Leopold really involved in making decisions on who would get what share of the funds while her Island Kids was one of the applicants as well? Wow. What country are we living in?

Anonymous said...

I wonder why a Resident's Association is empowered with deciding who receives what share of $100,000 allocated for Public Purpose instead of the RIOC Board.

Anonymous said...

RIRA is empowered with deciding who receives what share because RIOC determined that they should be empowered, and this is the second year that they have had the responsibility. Its very interesting that this is seen by commenters to be some underhanded "play" by Frank Farance or anyone else on RIRA's Common Council. If anyone was concerned about RIOC being string-puppets of RIRA (a laughable suggestion to anyone who knows the history of either organization), pehaps they'd get involved in RIRA, or any of its sub-committees that deal with a number of Island issues (and are completely open to the public), instead of anonymously posting to this site & besmirching its members or processes by which it makes its decisions.

Anonymous said...

Frank Farrance seems to be engaging in willful misrepresentation regarding Roosevelt Island Day Nursery. The $18K tuition he quotes is for full day plus afterschool--that's 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. 50 hours a week. A family on half scholarship, paying $9000 K for that is basically paying $1000 a month for full-time childcare (even after deducting school holidays), and also receiving an enriched program rather than standard daycare. Who pays less than $250 a week for 50 hours of coverage? Working, lower-income families on the island have no other resource.

Education is rarely "cost-effective" if you calculate it baldly on a $1/per child basis, because it is an investment in the future of the child. By arguing that scholarships aren't cost effective, Farrance is like those people who argue that Head Start isn't cost effective...

Island Kids is fine, as far as it goes. No working parent could rely on it as the year-round classes are only a couple of hours and NOT drop off. It is also wildly disorganized--classes canceled willy nilly, endless amending emails sent out to alter the schedule or the offerings. It's also not clear how the $36K received helps needy families, as opposed to just being a way to keep the general tuition low enough to draw customers (rich and poor).

I'm also not sure why it isn't valuable to islanders to have the Child School here. It's a great innovative school serving a children with special needs. I see their fabulous art work in RIRA's windows annually, and I feel strongly that their presence on this island enriches daily life.

RIRA's allotment doesn't make sense: and when something doesn't make sense it's usually a good indication that it's not on the up and up.

Frank Farance said...

Regarding, my so-called "willful misrepresentation" of the RI Day Nursery, the facts I reported were based upon information I received directly from Lynn Marfy, a board member of the RI Day Nursery.

Regarding, "Wow...RIRA President Frank Farance actually had the audacity to try and cover the fact that Nikki Leopold sitting at the table, was not a conflict of interest", I never said that Nikki was not there. I said that she wasn't part of the committee, as reported by Steve Marcus. I did not attend the original RIRA PPG subcommittee meetings and my information was based upon reports. After the RIOC Governance Committee meeting, I got a sense that there might have been some issue, so I asked RIRA the next day to ask the committee to reconsider the allocations.

Really, what's wrong with recognizing a mistake was made, as RIRA President owning up to the mistake the organization had made, and then promptly rectifying the problem? I chaired the April 7 RIRA PPG subcommittee meeting to personally make sure the procedures were done correctly.

Regarding "I'm also not sure why it isn't valuable to islanders to have the Child School here. It's a great innovative school serving a children with special needs. I see their fabulous art work in RIRA's windows annually, and I feel strongly that their presence on this island enriches daily life.", RIRA doesn't have windows, so we don't have art work from the Child School. The Child School has an $8 million budget and an *investment* income of $200K per year -- twice the size of the RIOC Public Purpose Grants. The Child School only affects 3 residents. Considering the needs of all the applicants, it was clear that the Child School had substantial resources (as compared to some other PPG applicants) and that the $5800 towards the Child School would have much less impact than $5800 to a much needier Island organization.

Regarding "Farance is like those people who argue that Head Start isn't cost effective", I never said anything like that. I compared the $36K for Island Kids, the $25K for the Disabled, the $20K for Lifeframes, etc. where EACH of them would benefits hundreds of residents at all income levels ... with the RI Day Nursery which wanted to spend $35K on roughly a half dozen residents that would primarily be from upper income families. The issue isn't about "cost effectiveness", the issue is about *cost/benefit*, and other PPG applicants had much much better proposals than the RI Day Nursery.

Finally, after RIRA reconsidered the allocation of funds, RIRA provided a rationale for their reasoning.

Oh one more thing: I think people think that because an organization doesn't get PPG funds, there is something wrong with the organization. There isn't anything wrong with the organizations (RI Day Nursery, The Child School), it's just that within the criteria of the PPG funds, these two organizations did not compete well this year -- and the PPG criteria is what this discussion is all about. Maybe they will compete well next year.

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