Former Roosevelt Island Operating Corp President Steve Shane Talks To The NY Times About His Removal By RIOC Board - They Defied Governor He Says!
Image of Former RIOC President/CEO Shane at June RIOC Board Meeting from Main Street WIRE
Remember the Breaking News from the June 28 Roosevelt Island Board of Directors Meeting in which RIOC President/CEO Steve Shane was unexpectedly removed from his position? Since that time neither Mr. Shane nor the RIOC Board has publicly commented on what transpired but that has now changed. The NY Times City Room Blog published a story today with a Survivor or Big Brother ish title of "How Corporation Chief Was Voted Off Roosevelt I" and Mr. Shane provides his version of why he is no longer President of RIOC. According to the NY Times City Room blog:
... “It’s an interesting moment in the island’s history — the board defied the governor,” Mr. Shane said in an interview. “The board got a taste of power and didn’t want to give it up. They wanted to flex their muscles, and I was pushed out the door with no cause.”...In my opinion, the Roosevelt Island Board of Directors did the right thing and the only thing they could under the circumstances. Mr. Shane worked for and under the Board - they did not work for him.
... “I was told they had a majority to terminate me and that I should resign and clear out my office and not create a big public fight over it,” said Mr. Shane, who received a yearly salary of $150,000 for the full-time position. “I was told they wanted me to go quietly. I tried to find the support I needed to fight it, but I couldn’t.”...
In the past, the Roosevelt Island Board of Directors was more often than not a mere rubber stamp for the wishes of the current President. This current Board is different, independent and composed of members very knowledgeable about the issues facing Roosevelt Island. Mr. Shane is also very knowledgeable about Roosevelt Island issues (unlike recent RIOC Presidents), but in day to day practice, I believe he could not abide by an independent Board of Directors that advocated policies he disagreed with. The Board of Directors had no other choice than to remove Mr. Shane because Mr. Shane continued to publicly oppose policies that the Board had approved and he would not stop being defiant.
Whether you agree or not with the Board's decisions on the Main Street Retail Master Leaseholder, Mitchell Lama Privatizations or any other Roosevelt Island issue, it is their decision to make, not the RIOC President's decision. Once a final policy decision is made by the Board, it is the RIOC President's job to implement it, not publicly oppose it. If a RIOC President thinks the decision is so terribly wrong, after appealing to all appropriate administrative channels, the proper recourse would be to resign and then publicly oppose it. Perhaps Mr. Shane can explain why he did not do this?
As RIOC Director David Kraut says to the NY Times:
... “You have a board that’s flexing its muscles,” Mr. Kraut said. “Steve was the best president this board ever had, and the conditions that led to his resign are unfortunate. He rubbed people the wrong way because he thought he was the smartest guy in the room. He thought he was always right, and he often was, but that’s not best way to get people on your side. Whether that helped lead to his resignation, I don’t know.”...No business or government entity can operate effectively when the CEO/President is defiantly opposing the policies of it's Board of Directors openly and in public. Mr. Shane, who I acknowledge was a far better RIOC CEO/President than any of his most recent predecessors, paid the price for refusing to acknowledge that the RIOC Board was in charge of Roosevelt Island policy issues, not Steve Shane.
It is also highly unlikely Mr. Shane is correct in saying that the Board defied the Governor or that Mr. Shane was removed without the approval of the Governor since DHCR Commissioner Brian Lawlor, himself appointed by the Governor, was present at the June 28 Board Meeting in which Mr. Shane was removed.
The RIOC Board of Directors, including Mr. Lawlor, could help clear up precisely why Mr. Shane was removed if they would speak publicly about what occurred. When I have asked them repeatedly to do so, they have declined saying they this is a personnel matter and they are prohibited by law to comment on the matter. Perhaps now that Mr. Shane has gone public, the RIOC Board of Directors will share with the Roosevelt Island community the reasons for their actions.
The NY Times article also quotes Mr. Kraut saying that the Board Members have been told that Deputy DHCR Housing Commissioner Leslie Torres may be appointed the new RIOC President.
A webcast of the June RIOC Board meeting is available here. It is usually removed a month after the meeting so if interested, watch it soon.