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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

RIOC Approves RIRA Recommendations For Roosevelt Island Public Purpose Funds

Pile of Money Image from KR Connect

After tabling the resolution concerning allocation of Roosevelt Island Public Purpose Funds at their last Board of Directors meeting, the RIOC Board approved the same RIRA recommendations for the funds allocations during a meeting this morning. At the suggestion of Board Member Christian, an amendment was added to the Public Purpose Funds approval resolution that the RIOC Board will revisit the process by which these funds are allocated prior to next year's allocation.

The allocations made by RIRA and approved by RIOC are as follows:
$0 Child School
$36,000 Island Kids
$20,000 Life Frames
$0 Orphans International
$10,000 RICLA
$4,000 RI Day Nursery
$25,000 RI Disabled Association
5,000 RI Seniors Association

with the following rationale:

- The applications were scored based upon the established criteria.

- Some proposals (Child School, Orphans International) were excluded because they did not provide significant direct benefit to Roosevelt Island residents.

- The highest ranked proposals (Island Kids, RI Disabled Association, RI Seniors Association) were considered first and given highest priority in their funding.

- The next highest ranked proposals (Life Frames, RICLA) were considered and given second priority in funding.

- The remaining proposals (RI Day Nursery) were considered and given third priority in funding.
The RIOC Board made the right decision as did RIRA with the funding allocations. It is a very difficult task to allocate a limited amount of funds in a very short period of time among competing Island organizations. However, the criteria established by RIOC and implemented by RIRA was proper and fair despite some acknowledged shortcomings with perceived conflicts of interest among RIRA committee members which will hopefully be addressed by next year.

The webcast of today's RIOC Board Meeting on allocation of Roosevelt Island Public Purpose Funds is available for viewing for those interesting in watching the proceedings.

22 comments :

Anonymous said...

Could somebody please explain Farance's comment about the 4% increase the RIDN staff got? Why did he have the need to mention this in the context of the RIRA recommendations? It leaves such a bad taste.

Frank said...

I reported some of the concerns of one of the committee members, Margie Smith. I'm not sure why reading about the raises leaves a bad taste. Clearly, RIDN is giving generous raises to their employees, yet they look to receive money from the public which covers the shortfall -- that's the bad taste.

Overall, the problem with the RI Day Nursery proposal is that it was a really poor proposal: this was obvious to everyone but the RIDN. Even when the RIDN was explained the criteria, they still didn't have the clear thinking to recognize "oh, I guess we can see that our proposal doesn't really match the criteria", their reaction was emotional, and they focused their efforts on ruining it for others (going after Island Kids, etc.). Apparently, this isn't the first time RIDN has looked to attack Island Kids.

Really, the RIDN should have been more adult-like about this: simply recognize that their proposal was not as competitive and look towards improving it for next year. Lifeframes did not get funding the first time and improved their proposal the second time (the got some funding this time).

Finally, it would be nice if all the Anonymous commenters actually signed their comments rather than writing comments with their identity safely hidden.

Frank Farance
RIRA President

Barinthus said...

Um. Welcome to the internet. I hear anonymity is pretty big around here.

Anonymous said...

A 4% increase is now considered generous? Really?

Anonymous said...

Anonymity may be required given your rather vindictive comments about the RIDN in the last wire. There are several points which raise questions of your handling of this situation.

1) Publicly releasing information about the salaries of nursery school teachers is, as most people except yourself may realize, an unprofessional and rather vengeful attack. If salary information is divulged for whatever reason, common sense dictates that this should be kept in confidence.

2) RIDN doesn't "give itself" anything. The board of RIDN decides whether their salaries should be increased based on performance at work. If you don't understand this, you have no business at the head of a governing body.

3) Along the same lines, what do scholarship funds have to do with teacher salaries? Are you suggesting teachers should relinquish portions of their salaries to be placed in a scholarship fund? Will you be giving part of your salary to lifestyles? or island kids?

4) I've been informed your numbers regarding the salaries is wrong. You should check your dollar amounts regarding this and a correction should be made. Plus you make a 4% increase sound "generous" forgetting that most companies will grant these simply as an inflationary adjustment.

5) Your "carbon-footprint" set of criteria regarding funding should take time into consideration. While the money allocated to RIDN may serve fewer children, this will represent one year of their beginning education. Has this been taken into account? Moreover, impact on development should be an issue. A years worth of education during a child's developing years bears more significance on their life than planting a flower.

6) Since you are so fixed on RIDN finances, when will we hear about the salaries of Lifestyles or Island Kids employees?

7) I originally read that money was given to island kids because they make none. I doubt RIDN makes any money at the end of the year, they might, but they do appear to be self-sufficient. Are they being punished for having their finances in order?

8) You suggest a more "adult-like" behavior yet your column seemed like a rather childish rant written because you were upset RIRA was caught cheating during the allocation of funds. In light of this, your subsequent "re-vote" would be farcical, given any changes in the votes would have been tantamount to an admission of guilt. How else would RIRA vote?

It is doubtful this post will change anything regarding the allocation. However you should know that because of this, and many other issues, you are not viewed as an able leader.

ROOSEVELT ISLANDER said...

I appreciate the raw nerves concerning this issue on the part of the Day School.

However, in my opinion, Mr. Farance means well, has no other interest than what he perceives to be in the best interests of Roosevelt Island, and despite being a bit blunt at times, is doing a fine job as President of RIRA.

At this point, I think it is best for all Roosevelt Island organizations, together with RIOC and RIRA to review the process and figure out the best way for distributing future Public Purpose fund allocation. This should be done with plenty of time to spare before the 2010 allocation.

Anonymous said...

I think people are resorting to anonymity because you respond to anyone questioning your decision with bile and invective. You seem to be taking this entire thing entirely too personally, which makes you dangerous, imo.

Anonymous said...

4:13 Thank you for that post. You hit the nail on the head.

Anonymous said...

4:13: Well done.

7:51: I agree entirely. How else to explain Farance's outrage over a 4% raise to a group of nursery school teachers (what would that bring them up to, an unseemly $35K?), and the generally nasty tone he's taken toward the Day Nursery? There must be something personal at work here.

Barinthus said...

Uhm.. I'm not anonymous. I didn't say anything about the RIND etheir.

Personally, I'd just like public safety to let us use the parking spots that they aren't currently occupying.

Frank said...

Some of you anonymous people still get this wrong. Maybe when you look at the facts, you'll change your mind.

Regarding "1) Publicly releasing information about the salaries of nursery school teachers is, as most people except yourself may realize, an unprofessional and rather vengeful attack. If salary information is divulged for whatever reason, common sense dictates that this should be kept in confidence.", this is simply wrong. The salary information was in aggregate -- we don't have individual salary information. Thus, no one's salary information was released.

So if you think I'm "vengeful" because I released salary information, now hopefully you don't think I'm vengeful because no one released it.

Regarding "2) RIDN doesn't "give itself" anything. The board of RIDN decides whether their salaries should be increased based on performance at work. If you don't understand this, you have no business at the head of a governing body.", the board has the decision-making power to determine the allocation of its budget ... I think that's pretty clear, but for some reason you didn't think I knew that. Since raises included all of their full-time staff, this doesn't look like a performance-based increase (an irrelevant point for this discussion). Margie Smith had expressed the concerns about the budget and the salary increases (I've already reported her comments). Thus, the RIDN board did have the control to reduce costs, which was Margie's point. Please remember, that I was reporting on what *Margie* said.

You should also know that Margie Smith and other RIRA Common Council members (myself included) had expressed similar concerns to RIOC about their staff (i.e., we had concerns, but for different reasons than RIDN). RIOC's CFO was telling us about belt-tightening, yet we pointed out salary increases. Our concerns are consistent ... we're representing community concerns, whether it is a State agency spending money of public funds being spent.

Regarding, "4) I've been informed your numbers regarding the salaries is wrong. You should check your dollar amounts regarding this and a correction should be made. Plus you make a 4% increase sound "generous" forgetting that most companies will grant these simply as an inflationary adjustment.", hopefully no one from the RIDN told you my numbers are wrong. The information is on PDF page 73 (5th from last page) of the RIDN PPG application.

Regarding "6) Since you are so fixed on RIDN finances, when will we hear about the salaries of Lifestyles or Island Kids employees? ", the Island Kids salaries were the same.

Regarding "8) You suggest a more "adult-like" behavior yet your column seemed like a rather childish rant written because you were upset RIRA was caught cheating during the allocation of funds. In light of this, your subsequent "re-vote" would be farcical, given any changes in the votes would have been tantamount to an admission of guilt. How else would RIRA vote?", this makes no sense. First of all, I wasn't caught cheating -- there was the *possibility* of an *appearance* of a conflict of interest (not an actual conflict of interest). Yes, I was upset when I found out something was wrong (possibility of an appearance of conflict of interest), but I promptly admitted error (I was "this didn't seem right to me", not an actual violation of procedure), I asked RIRA to promptly fix the problem (they decided to reconsider the allocation, as per RIOC's Governance Committee), and the problem was rectified in about 7 days -- that's pretty quick. And what makes this a "childish rant" -- sticking to facts and using one's best judgment?

On your point about "your subsequent "re-vote" would be farcical", prior to the April 7 RIRA PPG meeting, I did a thought experiment to see how much *could* change. Given the rankings of the applicants, we had about $24K left when we got to Lifeframes (ranked medium) and RIDN (ranked low). The committee felt that $20K was the minimum that we could give Lifeframes, which leaves $4K for RIDN. I guess we could have given all $24K to Lifeframes and RIDN $0, but we were looking to spread more of the money so RIDN got $4K. This rationale was discussed in public at RIRA meetings multiple times and summarized in our resolution.

I've read several times that people complain the Island Kids got its full request ($36K), but RIDN did not ($4K of $35K) and somehow there is something wrong going on. The disparity comes from the ranking of the proposals. The high-ranked proposals got all of their funding requests, the mid-ranked got some of their requests, and the low-ranked got what was left over or none at all. Here's another way to think about it. Let's say you have a total of $21K to split among 3 organizations each requesting $10K, and the first org is ranked high, the second ranked medium, and the third ranked low, and let's assume that the organizations have no other differences than the ranking of their proposals. You could give each organization $7K, but that would be wrong because you are not reflecting the criteria: if both the low and high ranked organizations each get $7K, then what is the purpose of the criteria and its scoring? Thus, you give more money/higher-share to the higher ranked proposals, and less to the lower ranked proposals ... it's as simple as that, and that's how it works everywhere.

Regarding "I think people are resorting to anonymity because you respond to anyone questioning your decision with bile and invective. You seem to be taking this entire thing entirely too personally, which makes you dangerous, imo.", I really think the commenter has gotten this wrong. Let's see: I've provided facts, I've supported my statements with clear thinking, and I've identified my posts. If you look at the anonymous posts, you'll see unsubstantiated accusations of being dangerous, uncited references to bile and invective, that I'm taking this personally, and so on. However, if you even believed your own statement, then I wouldn't actually be identifying myself, right? ... I'd just be posting my comments anonymously and we'd have a flame war. So your reasoning for anonymous postings doesn't make sense.

Finally, the only thing I've taken personally is: once I saw there was a problem, personally I thought it was important to acknowledge the mistake (possibility of appearance of conflict of interest), personally I argued to the RIRA Common Council to promptly rectify the problem, and (personally) I chaired the meeting to make sure things were done right. If you really believe I didn't acknowledge a mistake, then why did I push RIRA to deal with the issue? There were people in RIRA who did not want to reconsider the allocations because RIRA, as a whole, approved them independently of the subcommittee. Contrary to your statement, I'd say that personally taking a proactive role to acknowledge and rectify mistakes is good leadership. Simply, I wanted to do the Right thing for the Island residents.

Anonymous said...

Why again was the RIDN ranked low as compared to Island Kids (ranked high)? They both serve the RI population. RIDN would be able to reach even more children if there was more money available for scholarships. IMHO, a nursery school like should have higher priorities than a place like Island Kids.

Anonymous said...

I must agree with 9:13 AM, it's really not clear to me how Island kids helps RI more than RIDN. I hereby add my anonymous two cents by emphasizing that, as a working parent, Island Kids ( while wonderful for some after-school activities) is simply not a viable option for me: RIDN and Bright Horizons are the ONLY 2 options available to a parent of pre-school age children who want their children to be in a full-time stimulating learning environment during the day while we work our full-time day job. Period.

Island kids is an amazing organization run by a dedicated woman but it does NOT provide the needed full time child care that working parents need. If anything, I would argue that Island Kids is for the parents *rich enough* to not have to work a full time job.

As I've been following this debate I am less and less happy with RIRA and their uneven-handed representation of Island Residents: I resent the idea that they've wittingly (or not) floated that somehow those of us who work long hours or have good jobs and can afford daycare, are rich and therefore bad. Clearly RIRA's Board and especially it's President need to wake up. This island is not called Welfare Island anymore.

Nikki Leopold said...

Public Purpose Funds were awarded ONLY for the Island Kids Summer Day Camp, which serves approximately 240 children aged 5-13; NOT for our 45 minute Enrichment Programs for toddlers, which run throughout the year.

Our summer program runs from 9am - 4pm, 4 Days a week (due to the fact that we have found that familes often take 3-day weekends during the summer). We also offer an Aftercare Program until 6pm for working parents. Your argument that Island Kid programs are for rich parents who don't work is inaccurate - in fact, unless your child is over 6 and eligible for the Beacon program or already enrolled in the RI Day Nursery, we are the ONLY Program offering any Summer daycare on Roosevelt Island.

Our Summer Camp charges $185 a week for a Program that runs 28 hours a week' a fraction of what comparable Camps in Manhattan charge. We have NEVER turned a child away for inability to pay.
You also contradict yourself in paragraph 2 and 3. You state that Island Kids is serving a "rich" demographic of parents. In the next paragraph you claim that RIRA is discriminating against the very parents you accuse Island Kids of catering to. Working parents came to Island Kids asking for an affordable day camp for school-aged children. Most of them have full time jobs and would be insulted by your insinuations.

I understand lobbying, politics, etc. However, at a certain point it becomes extreme. Supporters of the Day Nursery would be better served continuing to support the organization that they so strongly believe in, rather than trying to tear down an Organization that has worked incredibly hard to serve the RI Community as a whole. Island Kids has never claimed to serve the same needs that RIDN addresses; by your insistence in comparing the two, and the implication that one benefitted at the other's expense is not only ill-founded, but does an extraordinary disservice to the many parents who benefit from the presence of both in our Community.

I whole-heartedly maintain that we received the funds because we have worked hard to serve the widest variety of the RI Community with a program that Roosevelt Islands parents have asked us to implement. We proved that in our Grant Application. If you still have any questions as to the worthiness of our Program, or what we offer in our Summer Program (again, the only thing that our Grant covers), I strongly urge you to contact us & find out more about what we offer.

And for those who continue to look to the anonymous posters on this Blog for information, I would suggest that you request further information from any of the members of the RIRA Common Council - they are a diverse group of individuals with very differing agendas & opinions. The idea that they are acting as a uniform body is laughable to anyone who has ever attended a meeting! Having said that, the one thing they do all have in common is a desire to do the right thing for their community, and a vested interest in trying to make that happen, in a public forum. Which can certainly not be said for those with vested interests using the anonymity of the blogosphere to spread misinformation under the guise of "opinion."

NIKKI LEOPOLD
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
ISLAND KIDS, INC.

Anonymous said...

Is this Island Kids summer program licensed? Unless it is, I wouldn't send my kid there!

Anonymous said...

Yes, the summer camp is fully licensed by the Department of Health and carries all the proper insurance, We have been licensed every year and will be again this year. I wouldn't send my child to an unlicensed program either.

Anything else?

Nikki Leopold

Anonymous said...

“So if you think I'm "vengeful" because I released salary information, now hopefully you don't think I'm vengeful because no one released it.”

I can’t figure out if this is disingenuous or simply ignorant. But at least I see you take this seriously since you are now passing the buck onto Margie Smith. It is irrelevant who said what, it was most likely in confidence or amongst a small group until YOU posted this information for everyone to read on the Wire. And the actual salary information is irrelevant. Raises are in general confidential information and its clear you tried to generate a backlash against the RIDN by writing that teachers there received raises. Don’t pretend you don’t get it.

“the board has the decision-making power to determine the allocation of its budget ... I think that's pretty clear, but for some reason you didn't think I knew that”

Well if you write that RIDN “GAVE ITSELF” a raise, in three different instances, then yes, it should be pretty clear why people think you don’t get this concept. You were again trying to generate sympathy for your cause and disdain for RIDN by insinuating that they “Gave themselves” raises. And you did this since rightfully acknowledging that a Board grants raises may have invited some to think that these were rightfully deserved. But no, you certainly would not want to do that. Not that this should be justified to you anyway.

“Since raises included all of their full-time staff, this doesn't look like a performance-based increase”

Come to think of it, it really does seem like you have no business sense at all. Ever heard of a company bonus?

“hopefully no one from the RIDN told you my numbers are wrong. The information is on PDF page 73 (5th from last page) of the RIDN PPG application”

I don’t have access to this, so I’ll go out on a limb here. But the information from RIDN is that the 4% increase corresponds to $18K increase, and not the $37K increase you wrote in the wire. This is a significant difference, which you should check and correct if necessary.

“Yes, I was upset when I found out something was wrong (possibility of an appearance of conflict of interest), but I promptly admitted error (I was "this didn't seem right to me", not an actual violation of procedure), I asked RIRA to promptly fix the problem”.. “once I saw there was a problem, personally I thought it was important to acknowledge the mistake (possibility of appearance of conflict of interest), personally I argued to the RIRA Common Council to promptly rectify the problem, and (personally) I chaired the meeting to make sure things were done right”

What is childish about this now, is your revision of history. Your “promptly admitted an error” is not consistent with you lambasting Patrick Stewart for bringing up this conflict of interest, accusing him of “sandbagging” the system and later rants. And if YOU are being suspected of a conflict of interest, what is the use of having YOU chair the meeting?

“The committee felt that $20K was the minimum that we could give Lifeframes, which leaves $4K for RIDN. I guess we could have given all $24K to Lifeframes and RIDN $0, but we were looking to spread more of the money so RIDN got $4K”

Wow, you are truly magnanimous.

It is extremely troubling that you would consider RIDN so low on the totem pole and this, I suspect, will be RIDN’s biggest challenge in the upcoming years. Based on the functions RIDN serves for the community, it would be hard to argue that your criteria for award selection were not intentionally bias against RIDN. In case you haven’t noticed, there is no free preschool in the area, and there aren’t many choices on the island. For working couples, it will either be a nanny, bright horizons, or RIDN. Neither a nanny nor Bright horizons will give scholarships. The Summer camp of Island Kids is great but not year round. What you have done is killed the prospect of having lower income families attend RIDN.

Since your reasons change on a daily basis- not fitting the criteria, 4% raises, it was a poor proposal (unlikely given they have presented it before and obtained funding) this decision is inviting an investigation into the real reasons behind the funding granted, which I suspect have not been yet voiced.

As an aside, I’m sorry to see Nikki having to come to this forum and defend her program or funding. As I have personally seen, Island Kids is great and deserves everything they get. They have an excellent program that serves a wide variety of children and for this they deserve plenty of recognition. However RIDN is all this as well, and provides a year round education for many children so I would have liked to see a more balanced distribution of funds. And for all here, this should not be made into a RIDN versus Island Kids battle.
Now it is harder to accept how $20K is given to a woman from California to plant flowers on the island.

Anonymous said...

I am sure that some investigation of the various entities receiving aid was done. Where did the figure of $39,000 in raises for RIDN come from? I also do not have access to the PDF with RIDN's figures but can do some math. If 4% is $39,000 then 100% is $975,000. Is that the total payroll for RIDN or is the figure given by 4:16 of $18,000 more accurate? If a 4% raise is $18,000 then their total payroll is more like $450,000.

Which is it? That should be a simple question to get the answer to. So far we have Frank telling us that the tuition at RIDN is $18,000 per year. RIDN says it is $10 to $14,000 a year.

From the way Frank posted the comments by Maggie Smith that the 4% raise was the CRUCIAL issue that doomed RIDN's request for funds, it is very clear that he was in agreement as was everyone who voted. This was not just Maggie Smith's opinion, Frank was offering it as a definitive explanation of why RIDN did not get its request or even near it.

Since the 4% pay raise was so important it seems that the math related to it could be better. All the mistakes made as to RIDN's "generous" pay raises seem to be suspiciously on the HIGH side as were the mistakes as to RIDN's tuition and the amount given in each scholarship.

Padding the numbers is a "very old trick" and while it may not irritate everyone it does irritate this one.

Maybe he can explain it to the 6-10 kids/families that will not get any help this year.

Maybe it would be more productive to do a survey of families on RI to see how many have children of the correct age who want to but cannot afford RIDN and try to find the funds to help them.

Anonymous said...

Other interesting numbers. Islands Kids charges $185 per a 28 hour week or about $6.61 per hour.

RIDN's cost per hour is maybe a dollar more, $7.70, for a fully licensed and accredited facility whose main teachers all have at least a masters degree.

Both these numbers are low if compared to a babysitter. Both these programs are good for RI.

The question is when comparing these two, apples and oranges, how in the h*ll did premium entity like RIDN come up in the lowest tier?

What kind of a "contest" was this? Why was RIDN considered last after all others?

Seems like a "gotcha" game to me. Why are we playing such games on RI with the penalty going to our kids?

Anonymous said...

What about Youth Program? Is it correct that they get $165,000 from RIOC without any public approval? What special status they have on Island and why?
2 months soccer, 2 months baseball, two months this and that (coaching by parents who love, but do they know how to coach) with no more than 100 kids serving (yes in papers they have 300:)

Women from California get $20,000 for what??? 3 days in PS 217 with no more than 50 kids!!!

Who will check and how accurate numbers of people (kids) served with this grant money (from our pockets, right?)

Anonymous said...

http://www.rioc.com/grants.

More information about the Public Purpose Funds.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me what the tuition rates are at Bright Horizons? Thanks.