Tuesday, July 20, 2010

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.”...

... “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 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.

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.

72 comments:

Anonymous said...

pushing out steve shane was a travesty. the RIOC president is there to execute the policies of the Board. as far as anyone could tell, shane was doing his day to day duties, admirably well. he did so with full transparency to the community, being frank when thing were slipping behind schedule and being clear when he disagreed with a policy but needed to follow it. with 6 months left in his tenure, it disgusts me to see what the RIOC board has done. i believe and hold kalkin responsible for this 100% - his personal jihad for the master lease program is ridiculous and sure only to enrich some undeserving company.

Anonymous said...

Don't leave Margie Smith out of it. She had her own disagreements with Shane and vowed to get him out.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ROOSEVELT ISLANDER said...

There's nothing wrong with being critical of anyone's actions, including RIOC Board Members, but it is not fair to impute personal financial benefit as a reason for their action without providing evidence of it.

Dan Chen said...

would that perhaps be as unfair as firing a competent and communicative RIOC President without providing any evidence and grounds to the community?

Anonymous said...

The next RIOC President should be required to live on Roosevelt Island.

A field trip to the subway station should be scheduled during his/her first week on duty, to see people carrying shopping bags and to note what stores these bags are from. It is imperative that the notion that R.I. businesses (when they exist) need only cater to the poorest demographic living here. The Island was never conceived as solely low-income territory, in spite of all the wailing. I've got news for all of you --- we live in New York City, not a third world country.

Anonymous said...

It won't be a Third World country once the Rivercross residents collect their Windfall Taxpayer Profit!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Dan Chen. Will we ever get an explanation from our elected Board Members as to the cause of Mr. Shane's abrupt ouster, just a few months away from December 31st? I think not!

Anonymous said...

Good luck to the new President. May you be able to navigate through this crazy place and deal with the RIOC Board, who may get rid of you - if you don't agree with them on everything.

Anonymous said...

Conflict of Interest laws are fundamental when individuals have power over the ability transfer public monies to their own bank accounts.

Any board member who lives in a Mitchell Lama Building must recuse herself from voting on the terms of the lease extension.

Attorney General Cuoma, soon to be Gov., is going to shake up the Island's governance structure. He has already been briefed in writing on the issues by a former RIOC President.

Anonymous said...

Ah, very good point, anonymous above. I really believe some of the current board members should not be on the board in the first place. I think we have to rework the vetting process for the next elections.

ROOSEVELT ISLANDER said...

An anonymous comment was removed from this thread because it may have implied that specific RIOC Board members took certain official Board action for their own personal financial benefit without providing any evidence to back that up. It could be considered borderline defamatory so after considering an objection to it, felt compelled to delete it.

Please rephrase if the writer wishes to re- post the comments

Anonymous said...

Ok, there are 4 RIOC Board Members who live in Rivercross, who stand to make a huge profit when it goes private.

All the articles I've read said Shane was standing in the way of that - so they got rid of him.

Anonymous said...

Why isn't Micah Kellner looking into that? Hum....

Anonymous said...

I guess all the money that the Rivercross residents made living off taxpayer subsidies wasn't enough - they need their windfall profit darnit!

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