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Friday, September 17, 2010

Possible Jumper From Queensboro Bridge Spotted By Roosevelt Island Public Safety Officer - NYPD Bring Him Down Uninjured

Image From Riverwalk Bar & Grill Owner Jonathan Hoo

According to the 9/16 - 9/17 Roosevelt Island Public Safety Report:
Aided - PSD officer observed possible jumper on the Queensboro Bridge. NYPD responded and removed the subject from the bridge. Aided was taken to the hospital for evaluation.
Image From Riverwalk Bar & Grill Owner Jonathan Hoo

Riverwalk Bar & Grill owner Jonathan Hoo sent in these riveting pictures yesterday of the man sitting on Queensboro Bridge railing and being talked down by NYPD officers. Mr. Hoo wrote:
Since the guy is ok and nothing happened, I am happy to share these with you.




UPDATE 2:15 PM -RIOC Director Jonathan Kalkin sent in this picture of Police Boat activity during the bridge incident.

Severe Weather Storm Hits New York City Yesterday - No Damage On Roosevelt Island But Funnel Cloud Seen By Resident, Possible Tornado In Brooklyn


You Tube Video of NYC September Tornado Warning

The Wall Street Journal Metropolis Page asks if that was really a tornado that hit New York City yesterday:
While we pick the branches from our stoops and await official ruling from the National Weather Service and the city’s Office of Emergency Management on whether that really was a tornado that caused Thursday night’s storm damage, here’s an overview of the choices they’ll have to make...
I've been out of town the last couple of days so did not know how severe the storm was but became concerned yesterday when I saw these tweets from a Roosevelt Island resident.

Susan S Arcelay Tweeted:
I watched storm approach from E. Rvr & saw 2 small funnel clouds and major rotation-I was relieved it passed so fast!
and:
I'm on Roosevelt Island with views of the E. River staring directly @ manhattan. watched it come over the city with my kids
I asked Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department Chief Keith Guerra if the storm caused any problems for Roosevelt Island. Mr. Guerra replied:
There was nothing to report on yesterday's storm. Roosevelt Island was unaffected.
Here's a video of the possible tornado heading towards Red Hook and Park Slope Brooklyn



and another showing what the severe weather was like for a couple of guys watching it from their Brooklyn apartment.


You Tube Video of Brooklyn September 2010 Tornado via Curbed

Here are some pictures of the storm from readers of the NY Times.

UPDATE 7/19/12 - Here's what happened on Roosevelt Island during July 18, 2012 storm.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Roosevelt Island Hispanic Heritage Month Saturday September 18 - Party With Willie Villlegas y Entre Amigos & Learn Some History

Image Of Hispanic Heritage Month Flyer From RIOC

Received the following message from RIOC:
Hello Everyone,
We would like to invite you to party! This Saturday, September 18th, Roosevelt Island celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with a performance from New York City Latin music group Willie Villegas y Entre Amigos! Willie Villegas and his band will move the crowd with a variety of Hispanic music from Bachata to Salsa and also offer an education in the history of the various musics and their related cultures. Come to the meditation steps across from Blackwell House for the two dance-worthy shows at 2pm and 3:30pm as well as Arroz con Pollo, Frijoles and more delicious Latin food!
For more information, visit rioc.ny.gov or call 212-832-4540.
Esta chevre,
See you there.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Roosevelt Island Residents Association Meeting Tonight 8 PM At Good Shepherd Community Center

Image of June 2010 RIRA Meeting

The Roosevelt Island Residents Association will be holding its September Monthly meeting tonight at the Good Shepherd Community Center Lower Level Room (8 PM). As always, prior to the start of each meeting there is a public session in which any resident can come and address the Common Council Delegates on any issue of concern.

Below is the Draft Agenda for tonight's meeting, the Draft Minutes for the previous meeting last June, reports from the Government Relations Committe, Island Services Committee and material on the Maple Tree Group's recommendation regarding the RIOC Board Nominee election timetable.

If you are concerned about issues impacting Roosevelt Island - this is the place to be tonight.
RIRA September Draft Agenda





First New Roosevelt Island Tram Cabin Arrives Boxed And Under Wraps Last Night - Unveiled This Afternoon In All Of Its Shiny, Sleek Glory

One Of The New Roosevelt Island Tram Cabins Waiting To Be Put In Service

Despite being tucked away in a wooden crate, one of the two new Roosevelt Island Tram Cabins found it's way to Roosevelt Island late last night. Roosevelt Island resident and photographer Austin Moore was there to greet our new Tram friend.


Earlier this morning the new Tram Cabin (yet to be named- hopefully we can come up with something other than #1 and #2) was moved to the work yard in Southtown under wraps

waiting for it's unveiling.


The wrapping came off and voila - a beautiful new sleek tram cabin

Above Two Images From Roosevelt Island Historical Society President Judy Berdy
The interiors were roomy and spacious with seating benches

overhead arm railings (though no straps hanging down) and floor to ceiling poles to hold on from,

two video monitors

and a cool looking tram operators station.

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez (fifth from left) and Public Safety Director Keith Guerra (third from left) were on hand to watch the unveiling, check out the interior cabin and congratulate the contractors on the arrival of the first Tram Cabin.


As of now, the first Roosevelt Island Tram cabin in scheduled to resume service on October 5 and the second one on October 16.

Ms. Berdy has more pictures of the new Tram Cabin here.

Looking forward to getting back on the Tram.

Condition Update On Man In Wheelchair Run Over By Access A Ride Van On Roosevelt Island's Main Street - Doing Better & Undergoing Rehab

Image From Dave Evans

Several readers have been asking about the status of the man in the wheelchair who was hit by an Access A Ride Van last week.

I went to the source and inquired of Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department Chief Keith Guerra:
I was wondering if you had an update on the condition of the man in wheelchair who got run over by the Access A Van last week? Any idea how he is doing? Was any determination made as to why this happened - speeding van or something that the wheelchair man did?

Also, several residents have expressed concern over speeding vehicles on Southpoint's Main Street. Any possibility of a speed bump being placed there?
Image From Dave Evans

Mr. Guerra replied:
The investigation revealed that the Vehicle did, in fact, stop at the stop sign, and looked to the right (sidewalk) before proceeding. The Wheelchair-bound pedestrian came across the front of the bus (from the left) and was subsequently pinned underneath.

According to the Nurse's Station at Cornell Medical Center, the patient is doing better and is being transferred today to a rehabilitation center to continue his recovery process.

As for the speeding on Southpoint's Main St., our unmarked unit has been conducting Radar there and several summonses were issued, but now fewer are being written because the condition is being corrected.
Image From Dave Evans

UPDATE - 8:35 AM - Correction, I meant Southtown's Main Street not Southpoint.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Response To RIRA President Slamming Maple Tree Group On RIOC Nominee Elections - Come See Discussion at Tomorrow 's RIRA Meeting

Image of June 2010 RIRA Meeting

After a summer layoff and big changes on Roosevelt Island including a new RIOC President, the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Common Council will be holding it's Monthly Meeting tomorrow night, September 15, at the Good Shepherd Community Center's Lower level beginning at 8 PM.

At some point during the RIRA meeting, perhaps the entire meeting, we can expect some RIRA members to express dissatisfaction with RIRA President Frank Farance. The reason for this dissatisfaction is due in whole, or part, to two recent columns Mr. Farance wrote for the Main Street WIRE and this blog in which he criticized the decision made by members of the Maple Tree Group to recommend that elections for nomination to the RIOC Board be held in November 2012 rather than November of 2010. Mr. Farance also criticized the process by which the Maple Tree Group arrived at it's decision.

Mr. Farance's columns are here - August 27 (item 10) and September 11 (Item 5). Please read them in order to understand the substance of this disagreement.

Several RIRA and Maple Tree Group members, some members overlap both groups, objected to Mr. Farance's comments. In fact, they took strong exception to put it mildly. I offered those who I knew objected an opportunity to present their views and they are below. A version of all these comments also appeared in the Main Street WIRE

Before we get to the critical comments concerning Mr. Farance's statements, here is an email message from Maple Tree Member and RIRA Government Relations Committee Chair Ashton Barfield to RIRA Council Members providing some background on the Maple Tree Group and explaining the RIOC Board Nominee election decision making process. A version of this message also appeared in the August 28 Main Street WIRE (PDF File) Page 12. From Ms. Barfield:
Dear fellow Common Council members,

In advance of our September 15 meeting, I'm writing to you, on behalf of the Maple Tree Group subcommittee of the Government Relations Committee, about RIOC Board elections. This is a long, complicated email, and I apologize for that, but we want to give you everything you need in order to understand the issues, and to be able to discuss them before, as well as during, the meeting.

BACKGROUND ON THE MAPLE TREE GROUP (MTG)
As most of you know, MTG has been working since 1997 with our successive Assemblymembers and State Senators (and met once with then-Governor Pataki) to have the members of the RIOC Board be residents, and be elected by the community. To the extent presently possible, those goals have been achieved: per the 2002 Open Spaces law, at least five Board members must be residents; and although the Governor still appoints the Board members, he now considers recommendations from the community based on our election results. The first elections were held in February 2008 (resulting in 4 of the top 6 vote-getters eventually being appointed) and May 2009 (resulting in the top 2 vote-getters eventually being appointed). MTG developed the election framework, produced the elections, and followed the progress of the winners through to appointment. MTG continues to work for legislation to guarantee direct election of the Board members; achieving this last step will be difficult, since the Governor will have to sign a bill reducing gubernatorial authority. (MTG has been a subcommittee of the Government Relations Committee (GRC) since 1999. The present membership is Ashton Barfield, David Bauer, Linda Heimer, Sherie Helstien, Matthew Katz, Dick Lutz, Nurit Marcus, and Joyce Mincheff.)

ELECTION CONSIDERATIONS AND OUR CONCLUSIONS
Over the past four months, MTG has been compiling and assessing information about RIOC Board election dates, appointment dates, tenure durations, and term-expiration dates, in order to arrive at what seems the most appropriate timing for the next RIOC election. The following is a presentation of the results of our deliberations, the rationales underlying our conclusions, and the pros and cons of the choices. (We included the three non-MTG members of GRC and Frank Farance in our discussions, but ultimately not in our vote, since they were less familiar with all the issues and since they will have the opportunity to express themselves fully with the rest of the Common Council. Their opinions were split on the only disputed issue, and their votes would not have changed the balance.)

1. Our first conclusion was that RIOC elections must be held in conjunction with RIRA elections, which are themselves held in conjunction with the even-year November federal and state elections. The rationale for these conjunctions is obvious: the turnout for the other elections optimizes the turnout for our local elections, and thereby optimizes the validity, for the community, of the voters' choices. Our vote was unanimous for this conclusion.

2. Another conclusion was that we should seek regularization of the start/end dates of the RIOC Board terms. The term dates are inherent to the seats, not the incumbents -- the term dates aren't determined by the election dates or the appointment dates -- and although each term lasts four years, the start/end dates are all over the place. (See the attached grid of detailed data for current Board members and their seats.) As a result, although the candidates in the first RIOC election were theoretically running for four-year terms, in practice they were appointed to the remaining portions of the four-year terms of vacated seats: 1 year, 1.9 years, 2.6 years, and 3 years. We hope, through Assemblymember Kellner, to get the terms fixed so that they end uniformly in odd-numbered years, at an appropriate interval following RIOC elections in even-year Novembers. But this regularization will not happen soon, and so we must devise a workable interim system for the existing mess. No vote was needed/taken on this issue. (During the discussions, Frank Farance said that he's considering a referendum for the November RIRA election that would encourage RIOC and the Governor to establish a regular cycle.)

The attached grid, which I referenced above, will help you understand the factors that we've wrestled with. One thing that you need to keep in mind, while evaluating the various issues, is that candidates are not running for particular seats; a group of candidates is running for a group of seats. As the seat-terms expire, the Governor can do any number of things with our recommended winners: appoint all of the top vote-getters to the available seats in order of their votes; skip over some of the winners and appoint candidates with fewer votes (as happened to Frank Farance and Erin Feely-Nahem in 2008); or ignore some/all of them completely and appoint people who were not even candidates (and possibly aren't even residents).

Here's a summary version of the grid data that shows the durations of service, since appointment and since seat-term expiration, that will exist at election time in November 2010, 2012, and 2014. (Since members serve until replaced, an incumbent who doesn't run or isn't re-elected could continue in office past seat-term expiration until a newly-elected replacement is appointed.)
NOV 2010
2.3 yrs Christian -- expired for 0.4 yr
2.3 yrs Kalkin
2.3 yrs Kraut (plus 14 yrs, 6/94-6/08)
2.3 yrs Grimm (re-appointed without re-election after 1 year)
1.4 yrs Polivy
0.75 yrs Shinozaki (plus 4.4 yrs, 12/04-5/09)
0.75 yrs Smith

NOV 2012
4.3 yrs Christian -- expired for 2.4 yrs
4.3 yrs Kalkin -- expired for 1.3 yrs
4.3 yrs Kraut -- re-expired for 1.3 yrs
4.3 yrs Grimm (won't re-expire for 0.7 yr)
3.4 yrs Polivy -- expired for 0.8 yr
2.75 yrs Shinozaki
2.75 yrs Smith

NOV 2014
6.3 yrs Grimm -- re-expired for 1.3 yrs
5.4 yrs Polivy -- expired for 2.8 yrs
4.75 yrs Shinozaki -- re-expired for 1.3 yrs
4.75 yrs Smith -- expired for 1.3 yrs

3. The third conclusion that we eventually reached, by a 7-1 vote (see end of paragraph), was that 2010 is too soon for the next RIOC election (the earliest appointees having served only 2.3 years), that it should therefore take place in 2012, and that the seats to be filled then would be those of the four members appointed in 2008 (Christian, Kalkin, Kraut, Grimm). Subsequent elections would be every two years, with a three-four alternation of the seven resident seats to ensure that there would never be complete Board turnover following an election. Thus, the 2014 election would be for the seats of three members appointed in 2009-2010 (Polivy, Shinozaki, Smith). The 2016 election would be for the seats of the four members elected in 2012, and so on. Our vote on this conclusion was framed as 2012 versus 2010. Barfield, Bauer, Heimer, Helstien, Katz, Lutz, and Marcus voted for 2012; Mincheff voted for 2010.

As you can see from the attached grid and from the summary list above, there are numerous problems associated with fitting the seat-terms and tenures into the even-year-November framework (see section below). There is no simple choice. Some of the problems are the same whether the next election is in 2012 or in 2010. For the problems that are different, there are tradeoffs for each. (Unfortunately, some of the problems won't go away even in the very best scenario, of direct elections and regularized seat-term expirations.)
PROBLEMS OF FITTING THE SEAT-TERMS AND TENURES INTO THE EVEN-YEAR-NOVEMBER FRAMEWORK

* VULNERABILITY -- Although the four members appointed in 2008 will have served only 2.3 years in November 2010, one of their seat-terms is now expired (May 2010), and two of the other three will expire in June 2011. (The fourth was re-appointed by the Governor in June 2009, when the seat-term expired after only one year's tenure.) Also, the member appointed in May 2009 (only 1.4 years of service in November 2010) will expire in December 2011. Since Board members continue to serve after seat-term expiration until replaced, there's no automatic vacancy created by the expiration, but there could be increased vulnerability to having the member replaced by gubernatorial whim prior to our next election. To protect against this, we are seeking State confirmation of the precedent established by our elections.

* OVER VERSUS UNDER -- If we wait until 2012, to avoid severely undershooting the four-year tenures that are premised in the elections (and preferable), we will overshoot by some months (indeterminate because of the numerous factors involved, such as the irreducible minimum of time for the State to vet non-incumbents, and unrelated delays by the Governor or the Senate, which must confirm the appointments). Most of us felt that, forced to choose, we would opt for extended tenures over foreshortened tenures, since the member's most productive years of service to the community will be after the initial adjustment and learning period. (It was also felt that 1.4 or 2.3 years in office was an insufficient basis for re-election evaluation.)

* STALE CANDIDATES AND LONG LAME-DUCK PERIODS -- If we were to have elections in 2010, to avoid the problems of expired terms and/or longer-than-four-year tenures, we would be holding elections for seats whose terms will not expire for 8-14 months (31 months for the reappointed member). If an incumbent is not re-elected (possibly because of an insufficient basis for evaluation), that person is still entitled to complete his/her term. There are several possible nightmare scenarios, including: an electee who is no longer able to serve by the time an incumbent's term expires; un-re-elected incumbents who leave their seats early, creating long vacancies while prospective members are vetted by the State (and possibly rejected, causing even longer vacancies and a crisis of how to fill the seats -- possibly with people who got fewer (too few?) votes, or with non-electees in disregard of our electoral process).

* INHERENT STRUCTURAL PROBLEM -- The hypothetical melodrama presented above in STALE CANDIDATES AND LONG LAME-DUCK PERIODS is an exaggerated version of an unavoidable problem: As noted in OVER VERSUS UNDER, after our elections, it will take time for the State to reappoint incumbents, and even more time to vet non-incumbents before appointing them (if at all). This vetting will be required even if we eventually get direct elections and regularized seat-terms, because Board members are appointed to a State governing body.

Again, sorry that this email is so long and so complicated, but as you can see, the issues are complicated, and their importance is such that they deserve your fully-informed and thoughtful consideration -- so that we can have an electoral system that serves our Island well over the years, as Board members come and go.

Looking forward to seeing you all in a few weeks, and hoping that you've had a wonderful summer,
Ashton Barfield
for the Maple Tree Group subcommittee
of the Government Relations Committee
Here's a link to the RIOC Directors term chart in the 10/28/10 Main Street WIRE

RIOC Directors Term CHART

Again, for reference, here are Mr. Farance's columns on subject - August 27 and September 11.

A version of the comments below in response to Mr. Farance also appeared in the September 11 Main Street WIRE (PDF File).

Here we go.

From Mathew Katz, former RIRA President, current RIRA Planning Committee Chair and current Candidate for RIRA President in the 2010 RIRA Elections:
My Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines a “whopper” as “a monstrous lie,” and that is what RIRA President, Frank Farance, has accused the Maple Tree Group of perpetrating in his August 28 RIRA Column. When you think of how long RIRA and MTG have worked together towards common goals, this is a sad thing. However, Frank has been using intemperate language regarding friends, allies and colleagues for almost two years now.

He declined to define what this lie might be, and so, we can’t respond. He accuses us of a “secret” meeting in which a vote on when to pursue a RIOC Board election was decided; a meeting that never took place. The debate among the RIOC Board elections core group has been long and involved, and conducted entirely by email, with the interested members of the Government Relations Committee (including Frank) included. The same August 28 WIRE issue in which Frank fulminates against our closed discussions, goes into several pages of detail on what the issues are, what data was analyzed and what our findings were. This material had been shared by email with the entire Common Council (well in advance of our next meeting on September 15, I might add) and the resident RIOC Board members, thus compounding the “secret.”

The central area of disagreement focuses on whether to hold RIOC Board elections this November or to wait until 2012. This is not a simple decision, and Ashton Barfield presented considerable discussion as to what criteria we considered to reach our 7 to 1 vote in favor of delaying until 2012.

Frank insists that he is on the MTG Committee, but in fact, has not participated in the decade-long rewriting of the legislation that created RIOC in 1984 nor has he participated in the 2007 work that devised and produced the first RIOC Board election. He notes, correctly, that he could not engage in our work while a candidate for the Board (he garnered the third highest vote count, but the Governor declined to appoint him), however, in the 26 months since the Board appointments resulting from that election, he has not participated in the well-documented work of the MTG Working Group or in the second election we organized for the community. Frank was a RIRA member during those years and, as RIRA President, was ex officio member of every RIRA committee, and could have included himself in our activities at any time.

MTG began in 1997 as noted in Ashton’s comprehensive article and at one time, boasted almost one hundred members. Our group has been whittled down over the years by weariness, attrition and frustration, leaving nine core members to accept the challenge of devising and producing RIOC Board elections without any guarantee that the Governor would appoint any of our choices. We recently solicited new members to bolster our group (including Frank) but withheld from them a vote on our deliberations until those folks had declared their commitment to the process. We believe that “decisions are made by those who show up.” At this writing, the current core group are the only shower uppers.

RIRA is not part of government and what influence we have is dependent upon our powers of persuasion. It is unfortunate that Frank has spent much of his term as president alienating many of those whose good will we must have to further our issues. When you are as powerless as any residents association is by definition, burning your bridges with the powerful is profoundly counter-productive. SPEAKING ONLY FOR MYSELF, I WISH that Frank would consider what is best for RIRA and for this community before indulging himself as he has.

Matthew Katz

RIOC Elections Working Group

Maple Tree Group

Chair, RIRA Planning Committee

RIRA President, 2000-2002, 2002-2004, 2006-2008


There's More!



From Roosevelt Island resident Vicki Feinmel:

Since I now proofread for The WIRE, I sometimes have to read columns that I would prefer not to read. One of these columns is The RIRA Column which I feel is not representative of RIRA but of it's President. Frank accuses the RIOC Board and the community, as a whole, of having double standards. So while we are on the subject of double standards, I found a letter that Frank wrote to the Common Council dated Sept. 30, 1999, complaining that the President's Column in The WIRE was "vitriolic and vituperative" and calls for a disclaimer on the top of the column and a review of the columns by the Vice President, the chair of the Communications Committee (who at the time happened to be Frank) and four other Council members.

When I read last issue's RIRA Column, I thought my head would explode, for the following reasons:
On this small island, you will always find many different opinions. People are very passionate about the issues they care about. Since we are neighbors and friends, we try to agree to disagree and respect each other. I found Frank's form of communication totally offensive, arrogant, disrespectful and his perception of reality is off. When Frank doesn't agree with an issue or process, he is accusatory and full of innuendo of wrong doing as he was when he discussed The RIOC Board, Maple Tree, the RFP for the Main Street Storefronts and the RIOC elections.

One must wonder if Frank has his own agenda. Is he resentful for not having been appointed to the RIOC Board? Could he want to see an early copy of the RFP because of his position on the Board of Island House (where many of the storefronts are located)? Could it be that Frank didn't drop out of Maple Tree because be became a RIOC Board candidate, in 2008, but rather because he had a hissyfit at a meeting when the group didn't agree with him on a particular issue?

Whatever the reason, where has he been the last 2 years? Could it be that the RIOC Board members didn't attend Farance's Town Hall Meeting due to not being notified rather than not being interested? For the record, only one storefront owner attended along with a sprinkling of RIRA members.

As much as I hate agreeing with Frank, I think he had it right in his 1999 letter. Let's put that disclaimer on top of his column and have the multiple review process put in place ASAP.

Is this the guy you want representing you? I sure don't.
From Maple Tree Group member Linda Heimer:

I surely wish there were a truth or fiction.com-type of web site for The RIRA Column! It would save me and others lots of time and effort spent to set the record straight. As a member of the Maple Tree Group (MTG), there is much I could say about RIRA President Frank Farance’s erroneous remarks regarding MTG in his last WIRE column (August 28), but I know others are addressing that section so I will confine my remarks to his erroneous or misleading statements elsewhere in his column.

FF (Farance remark) – ...Mr. Kalkin said that there was an immediate need for a RIOC president because some important decision needed to be made right away. No such event has happened since.
HR (Heimer response) – A. I spoke to RIOC Board member Jonathan Kalkin. He did not say decision, he said decisions. Big difference. An RFP for storefronts needed to be completed; privatization issues needed to be dealt with; retirement packages recently offered by the State might be accepted by RIOC employees and therefore restructuring of RIOC might have to be worked out; etc. Indeed, several major decisions have been made in the last few weeks.
B. Acting RIOC president Steve Chironis had publicly agreed to act in that position for no longer than 30 days.

FF – ...RIOC General Counsel, Ken Leitner...referred the questions...(re) what provisions, statutes, etc. prohibited the Board from discussing Shane’s firing to the Board Chair, read: there is no legal basis for the RIOC Board withholding the information.
HR – A. No one ever claimed there was a law against discussing Steve Shane’s departure from RIOC, just as there is no law preventing the media from disclosing their sources but they often choose not to for moral, ethical, and practical reasons. The public doesn’t always agree with this, but that’s the way it works.
B. The fact that Leitner referred Farance to the RIOC Chair doesn’t give him license to conjure up, as fact, whatever he wants as to the Board’s motives (also see privatization, storefronts, below). Whether you like or dislike the president of RIOC, the person in that position is hired and/or fired by the Board, not elected or appointed, and has the same right to privacy as any other State employee.

FF – As confirmed by Assemblymember Kellner, Shane’s firing involved friction with the Board over privatization (not really about storefronts).
HR – A. I spoke to Assemblymember Kellner. He claimed he never made this statement and that Farance misrepresented what was part of a long conversation. (Besides, Kellner was not in the executive session and would have been speculating as to why Mr. Shane left. Also, the very fact that the Board went into Executive Session during its June Board meeting implies they were handling something that could not be discussed in public.) Kellner told Farance that his guess was that “the Board was not happy with Shane because he was no longer executing what the Board wanted and was undermining them.”
B. What Kellner did say to Farance about privatization is, “You are sorely mistaken if you think that Steve Shane was your friend when it comes to privatization of Island House and Westview.” As evidence, Kellner told me that, “More movement has been made on privatization in the weeks since Shane’s departure than in the several months prior to it.”

FF – ...the CEO of Hewlett-Packard was fired by its board and their board chose to give an explanation. Why did they explain? Their board is elected by their shareholders, thus they need to explain their decisionmaking.
HR – A. I guess, once again, Farance is reading minds. Here’s a direct quote from the HP board’s press release:
“HP CEO Mark Hurd Resigns; CFO Cathie Lesjak Appointed Interim CEO...” Hurd then went on to explain why he resigned; the board did not.
B. They need to explain? What about the thousands of other public companies that do not explain, other than “He wanted to spend more time with his family?” The RIOC Board said they chose the route they did for ethical reasons, as stated above, and I choose to believe them. This is the first “elected” Board we have had and I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt until and unless proven differently. Farance seems to want to look for every excuse to discredit
them before they barely get their feet wet.

FF – Mr. Kalkin continues to be unresponsive to questions about the RFP (Request for Proposals re storefronts). Mr. Kalkin and his committee members did not come to the RIRA Town Meeting in June to discuss this.
HR – According to Kalkin, Farance asked him if he would come to a meeting, that Farance would set up, to discuss the RFP with storefront owners and RIRA members because they were all very concerned about the RFP. Kalkin agreed but asked him not to set it up in a given week because he would be away and also because the committee meetings on the RFP had not been completed. Farance agreed and then set it up for the very time Kalkin asked him not to, gave
him less than 24 hours notice, and then criticized Kalkin for not attending. Only a handful of the 33 members of RIRA showed up and only one storefront owner. For some reason, Farance left that fact out of his column. Either most were not really as concerned as he claimed, or Farance didn’t advertise it sufficiently/appropriately.

FF – “All the records of (Kalkin’s) meetings have been removed from the RIOC website... we have no records of the committee meetings, so supporting documents, and a committee that refuses to answer questions or participate in community meetings.”
HR – A. There were four RIOC Real Estate Committee meetings specifically regarding the RFP, including some where it was examined line by line. They were open to the public and posted on the RIOC website. According to RIOC’s Mike Moreo, webcasts of committee meetings are posted for 30 days before being removed. After that, they are archived for 90 days (usually longer) and can be obtained through a FOIL request. If Farance were genuinely interested in the RFP, he would have at least attended one of the meetings or listened to the webcast rather than waiting until the bottom of the ninth to step up and then accuse the Board of being secretive.
B. The RFP and supporting documents are currently available to the public.

FF – We’ve asked for a copy of the RFP to review it prior to posting... but Mr. Kalkin refuses to have community input. Opaque, arbitrary, capricious.
HR – According to Kalkin, Farance asked for a copy of the RFP a few days before it was to be made public. Has Farance never heard of the term “full disclosure?” Did he mention, in his column, that he is on the Island House (IH) Board and that IH is a potential bidder for the storefronts in their building? Because they would have an unfair advantage, no potential bidder is exclusively allowed to see a final draft copy of an RFP they might bid on. In fact, the Board could have been sued had they given an advance copy to Farance that was not available to the public. I am sure he knows this, yet Farance uses this common and reasonable practice to unjustifiably criticize the Real Estate Committee and Mr. Kalkin who have worked very hard to get us the storefronts we have desperately needed for a very long time.

FF – ...Opaque, arbitrary, and capricious.
HR – Judging from all his misleading statements (not limited to the ones discussed here), it is my opinion that Mr. Farance is the one who is often “opaque, arbitrary, and capricious!” I don’t pretend to be able to read minds, like Farance, but I can predict Farance’s behavior with a good degree of certainty. Because it is his M.O., I am quite sure he will respond to every criticism and critique in the letters challenging his column, in his next column, and he
will be delighted to have the last word which will, very likely, include more distortions of reality. It saddens me to have to write this letter but it seems Farance is more interested in unjustifiably tearing down the hard work of groups, such as MTG and the RIOC Board, every chance he gets, instead of showing a united front to the powers that be (State, City,
DHCR, etc.) which can help us attain the goals the majority of us have (as stated in elections, referenda,
surveys, etc.) for our Island. I certainly hope that the next RIRA president will be more skilled at diplomacy and use the RIRA Column in a more responsible way. If you agree, let your voice be heard in the November RIRA elections.

Linda Heimer
RIOC Elections Working Group
Maple Tree Group
RIRA VP/Government Relations 1998-2000
From Ashton Barfield identified below:
Although I am a member of the Maple Tree Group (MTG) subcommittee of the RIRA Government Relations Committee (GRC), and the chair of GRC, I'm writing as an individual rather than as the representative of either group.

My letter concerns the August 28 RIRA Column, section 10, about MTG's discussions and conclusions regarding the best timing for the next RIOC Board elections. Unfortunately, that section contains a number of inaccuracies and misrepresentations about our processes, actions, and motives.

Fortunately, many of the problems were already addressed by your inclusion, in the same WIRE issue, of the subcommittee report that MTG sent to the Common Council on Thursday, August 26. (As you know, that MTG text was finalized long before you received the RIRA Column and, when I was proofreading the rest of the issue, I deliberately did not look at the RIRA Column, so that there could be no valid charge of privileged access.)

To set the public record straight about the rest of the inaccuracies and misrepresentations, here is an overview of the events and circumstances that preceded the MTG report.

Triggered by Frank Farance's March 16 email to MTG that Steve Shane had asked him about the pending expiration of Fay Christian's term, MTG began what turned out to be a 5-month quest for the data that appear in the report's chart -- whose accuracy was/is essential to any discussions and conclusions about the appropriate timing for the next election.
(The membership of MTG at the time had been stable for the past 3 years, starting with the 2007 pre-election activities, except for Margie Smith's resignation after her January 2010 appointment to the RIOC Board. Of the other 8 "core" members, 7 are indeed 13-year veterans of all the hard work for self-governance. Although I was briefly a member after the 1997 founding, I didn't become active again until the election opportunity emerged in 2007.)

Even before the beginning of this summer's election analysis, we were including the 3 non-MTG members of RIRA's Government Relations Committee in other discussions, so that they could at least become familiar with the issues, and comment on them, and -- we hoped -- become involved enough to join MTG formally.(Note that we didn't need to have any meetings during our election evaluation -- we were able to conduct it entirely by email, which made the discussions more inclusive and more thorough.)

On July 7, Frank Farance asked to be included in the discussions, and we welcomed his participation. (He framed it as his rejoining MTG, after having had to resign before the February 2008 (first) RIOC election because he was a candidate. However, he never sought to rejoin later in 2008, after he was skipped over by the Governor for Board appointment -- despite getting more votes than two candidates who were eventually appointed -- and so had never been part of the 3 years of election work.)

By July 17, I had enough confidence in the accuracy of the chart's data that I could distribute the first lengthy assessment of the RIOC-election-scheduling problems.

On Aug 4, following comments from most "core" MTG members (and only one of the "non-core" 4, Ellen Polivy), I sent a second lengthy assessment, incorporating everyone's input. Once again, only Ellen responded from the "non-core" 4. (Frank had said nothing thus far.)

On Aug 10, with time dwindling fast, I urged that we decide which approach seemed better -- 2012 or 2010. As everyone chimed in (except for 2 "non-core" people), the apparent trend was 7-1 for 2012 among the "core," and 1-1 among the "non-core" who had been heard from.
At this point, some "core" members expressed concern -- in the first emails that didn't include the entire group of 12 -- that people who hadn't experienced all the election issues, and work, of the past 3 years (not the whole 13 years, which was never a criterion), who might not fully understand the present concerns, and who had barely participated (if at all) in the present discussions, were going to have votes of equal weight. This expression of concern was a matter of principle: the vote would still favor 2012 by at least 7-5, even if all 4 of the "non-core" were to vote for 2010 (which was already not the case).

There followed a lot of discussion among the "core" about our preference for the more inclusive approach. One proposal was to offer the vote to those "non-core" people who opted to join MTG formally, including a verbal commitment to be fully involved going forward. Ultimately, 2 "core" members were uncomfortable with even this variation, and so the vote was taken among only the 8. Regardless of which side we were on, most of us felt that no net injustice was done because, as members of Common Council, the 4 "non-core" people would have full opportunity to express themselves verbally (again) in the almost-three weeks before the September 15 meeting, and then both verbally and by voting during the meeting.

On August 18, we communicated to the 4 "non-core" people that the voting had been conducted, why it had been limited to the "core" members, why we felt that the "non-core" people weren't being deprived of anything, and, after I checked to make sure that no one in the "core" had thought the vote was confidential, what the individual votes were in the 7-1 decision.

So, there you have the sinister, secret machinations of this MTG cabal that seeks to rule Roosevelt Island... Truly, the last thing that we want is to restrict our active ranks. We would love to have more members, to share the work and the responsibilities!
No doubt about it - tomorrow's RIRA meeting will be interesting!

It's Primary Election Day Today - Incumbent Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney Facing Newcomer Reshma Saujani To Represent Roosevelt Island In 14 CD

Image of Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (right) and Challenger Reshma Saujani (left) From NY Daily News

Don't forget today is Primary election day so if you are a member of a political party get out and vote. The only contested Democratic Party primary election facing Roosevelt Island residents, other than State Attorney General which nobody knows anything about, is that between incumbent Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney

Image of Ms. Maloney (in blue dress) at FDR Memorial Site Yesterday

and her challenger Reshma Saujani.

Ms. Saujani outside Trellis Diner Following Recent Roosevelt Island Town Hall Meeting

More information on the Democratic Party Primary election for the 14th NY Congressional District at this post.

If newspaper endorsements mean anything anymore, the New York Daily News has endorsed Ms. Saujani and the NY Times endorsed Ms. Maloney.

From the NY Daily News:
It has been 18 years since a challenger has defeated an incumbent member of Congress from New York City. So it takes more than a little moxie for an upstart not only to take on a veteran, but to run strong.

Reshma Saujani has managed both feats in the district that encompasses Manhattan's East Side and part of western Queens. In the process, she has highlighted how badly the city's Washington delegation needs fresh ideas and energy.

A Yale Law School graduate of Indian heritage, whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from Uganda as political refugees, Saujani is taking on 18year officeholder Rep. Carolyn Maloney with the theme that longevity alone is not good enough. She's right, and the Daily News endorses Saujani in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary....

From the NY Times:
In this Manhattan and Queens district, Ms. Maloney, who has served nine terms in the House, is facing a challenge from Reshma Saujani, an impressive and energetic young lawyer of Indian descent who argues that New York needs the voice of a new generation and a new slice of the city’s ethnic pie. It is a bitter campaign with unpleasant charges from both sides. The two candidates should do a lot better for voters than snipe at each other.

But when the static has cleared, we see no good reason to discard Ms. Maloney. She has been a stalwart in fighting for women’s rights, financial reform, health care for workers at ground zero and better protections for credit card users. Ms. Saujani agrees with Ms. Maloney on these issues, but Ms. Maloney has already acted on them in Congress, at considerable political risk.

We endorse Carolyn Maloney for re-election in the 14th Congressional District.

Roosevelt Island's Main Street WIRE endorsed Ms. Maloney.

Roosevelt Island 360 Tweeted:
Election voting light as of 715am at Roosevelt Island's PS217. I was 15th voter for the 97th ED.
There is a Republican primary for Governor as well between Rick Lazio and Carl Palladino. Neither visited Roosevelt Island during the campaign.

UPDATE 4 PM - Congresswoman Maloney was campaigning on Roosevelt Island today with resident Jim Luce, author of the excellent Jim Luce Stewardship Report and founder of Orphans International.


UPDATE 9/15 -Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney was the winner of yesterday's Democratic Party Primary for the 14th NY Congressional District. According to the Wall Street Journal New York:
... Pushing back against charges she hadn't done enough to protect Wall Street, Ms. Maloney thumped a well-funded challenger, Reshma Saujani, by a 4-to-1 margin....

Low Flying Helicopter Swooping Over Roosevelt Island and East River Yesterday Evening Looking For Reported Queensboro Bridge Jumper

Image From Jonathan Kalkin

Were you wondering early yesterday evening around 5:30 PM , why a helicopter was swooping extremely low over Roosevelt Island, barely making it over the Riverwalk Building and hovering over the East River followed by NYPD Harbor Boats patrolling the area?

It turns out that there were reports of a person jumping from the Queensboro Bridge into the East River at that time. From the 9/13 - /9/14 Roosevelt Island Public Safety Incident Report:
Investigation- Report of a person who may have jumped off of the 59th Street Bridge. PSD, NYPD, FDNY and Coast guard responded. A search was conducted with negative results.

Uncovered Dumpster Remains On East Promenade Over Weekend - Shows Need For Roosevelt Island See Click Fix 311 Reporting System

Uncovered Dumpster On East Promenade

Roosevelt Island resident Mogens Petersen noticed the following last Saturday:
I was walking on the Eastern promenade behind Roosevelt Landings across from the northern part of the generator plant in LIC around 7 pm when I saw a large garbage dumpster filled over the brim without any cover whatsoever.

The dumpster was marked "OMEGA".

I don't know whether this is RIOC's or UA's responsibility, but would suggest that loaded garbge dumpsters should be required to be at least covered if left outside overnight - especially in the current warm weather. Are they even allowed ?
Mr. Petersen sent his concerns to Roosevelt Island Public Safety Director Keith Guerra. Mr. Guerra replied:
The dumpster of which you speak belongs to Urban American. We will advise them that it needs to be emptied. Have a good evening.
I walked by the area on Sunday afternoon and the dumpster was still full and uncovered. In fact, as I was walking by, a man got out of his car and threw a garbage bag into the dumpster.

Uncovered Dumpster On East Promenade

This is a perfect example of the need for a Roosevelt Island 311 Reporting System such as See Click Fix.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mayor Bloomberg & Governor Paterson Visiting Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park Today - View Delivery Of 24 Granite Stones For FDR Memorial Death Box

Image of View From Southpoint Park That Will Be Blocked By FDR Memorial Sculpture Room From the Main Street WIRE

Later this afternoon, New York State Governor David Paterson and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will come to Roosevelt Island to welcome the arrival of the Granite Foundation Stones for the FDR Memorial Boondoggle. According to the event's invitation:

... 24 monolithic stones will be barged up the East River to the Park. The stones, 12" x 6" x 6", 36 tons each will be off-loaded by crane onto the site to form the foundation of what architect Louis B. Kahn called the "Room"...
Others call it the Death Room Mausoleum.

Here's the invitation for the event.


The Main Street WIRE photo at top of post is of the panoramic view of the East River Waterfront that will forever be lost once the granite "death room" is constructed.

Sad day for Roosevelt Island.

Update 11:40 PM - Roosevelt Island Historical Society President Judy Berdy was there and shares some images from the day.

Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Paterson At Southpoint Park,

The granite stones for the Death Room being delivered,

RIOC Directors Howard Polivy, Jonathan Kalkin and Margie Smith,

and invited guests.

Ms Berdy has more images from the event here.

Governor Paterson's Flikr page notes:
Governor Paterson takes part in the ceremony to place the granite foundation stones at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park. The Governor signs his name on a placement stone.

The Daily News Daily Politics provides this tidbit about the signing ceremony:
... the officials were asked to sign their names in the cement with nails for the park's foundation stones. However, the ceremony went on so long that by the time they were ready to sign, the cement was practically dry. The odd thing is that I'm told Maloney took the nails along with her when she left.)...
The highlight of the day for Mayor Bloomberg had to have been as he was leaving Southpoint Park and stopped by to chat, or more accurately, listen to Riverwalk Bar & Grill owner Alphonso DiCioccio's reminiscing on past encounters as co-owner Sal Hoo looks on in bemusement.

Upcoming Heavyweight Election For Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President This November - Katz Announces He Will Challenge Farance

Image Of Lincoln - Douglas Debate From Andy Amato

Roosevelt Islanders - hold on to your hats because the upcoming Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) elections this November are going to be exciting - well at least as exciting as local elections can get. Why you may ask?

Because right after last Saturday night's Roosevelt Island 9/11 Memorial Service, former (RIRA) President and current Planning Committee Chair Mathew Katz informed me of his decision to challenge current RIRA President Frank Farance for the RIRA President's position. A true battle of the Roosevelt Island political heavyweights to be sure.

On Sunday, Mr. Katz announced his entry into the race as follows:
Last evening, after the 9/11 Memorial event ended, I informed RIRA President, Frank Farance, that I intend to run for an unprecedented fourth term as RIRA President. This was not an easy decision to reach; three terms as president during turbulent times seemed more than sufficient.

However, I told him that his remarks in the last two issues of The Main Street WIRE, when coupled with the many bridges he has burned over the last two years with those Island residents who have labored to be useful as well as those government officials who are the decision-makers here, have, in my opinion, compromised his ability to be effective. Further, I believe Frank has used the RIRA Common Council as a platform for his own agenda, without giving Council Members the opportunity to act as the leaders they were elected to be. Evidence of this are the 36% of those members elected in 2008 who have drifted away, not having received sufficient incentive to remain on the Common Council.

It is my hope that incumbent Council Members will run for another term and that newcomers to the community will consider running for vacant seats in their building complexes. RIRA’s power is the power of persuasion and if we don’t take ourselves seriously, no one else will.

Matthew Katz

Chair, RIRA Planning Committee

RIRA President: 2000-2002, 2002-2004, 2006-2008
Later on Sunday, Mr. Katz forwards this endorsement of his candidacy for RIRA President by NYC Council Member Jessica Lappin:
Yes, Matthew, I am happy to support you. I am not surprised and pleased you are running.

Good luck.

Jessica.
A prescient reader of Mr. Farance's 9/11 RIRA report commented:
I find it hilarious that all of these folks from the Maple Tree Group are writing articles and letters in the WIRE against Frank Farance. They were his main support system in RIRA, but now because he has spoken out about their attempt to control the RIOC Board Elections by extending the current BM's terms - the MTG wants to hammer him.

Good for you Frank. You finaly became the voice of reason. It's just too bad, you have alienated some of the folks who, like you, also speak out in public. They all work for the WIRE, so you'll get no support there. I wouldn't be surprised if they make Matt Katz run against you in the next election.

Good luck... you're gonna need it.
Stay Tuned For the Roosevelt Island version of the Lincoln Douglas Debates!!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Opening Night Reception For Roosevelt Island Tram Past And Future Exhibit At Gallery RIVAA

Roosevelt Island resident David Stone provides this video recap of last night's opening reception for Gallery RIVVA's exhibit of R*I*T Roosevelt Island Tram Past And Future.


You Tube Video of Gallery RIVVA Opening Reception From David Stone