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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Questions Raised Of Political Patronage and Cronyism In Stealth Appointment Of Non-Elected, Non-Resident To Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Board Of Directors By Resident - What Was Governor Andrew Cuomo Thinking?

Roosevelt Island resident Bill Long comments on this post:

Something stinks like rotting fish in the way the New York State Senate and Governor Andrew Cuomo are attempting to bring back colonial rule to Roosevelt Island with the apparent naming of Salvatore Fererra, currently Executive Director of the Child School/Legacy High School, to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors.... 
From Mr. Long:
Congratulations to Roosevelt Islander and to The WIRE (6/18/11 issue PDF File ) for their reporting on the process behind the latest RIOC Board appointment. Once again, Roosevelt Island residents have been "taken to school" on crony patronage in New York.

Why did a Republican state senator from Brooklyn and a Democratic governor in Albany conspire to install a manipulative opportunist on the RIOC Board? This action is crony patronage at its worst. Despite the good work that RIOC staffers accomplish, the main reason that RIOC exists is to provide patronage appointments for New York politicians. Why should we care about holding elections for members of an organization that clearly exists more for the benefit of politicians than Roosevelt Island residents?

This episode shows that it is time for Roosevelt Island residents to adopt a radically different approach to their own self determination. If the Maple Tree Group or others wish to do some good, they should shift their focus from director elections to a bill to dissolve RIOC and replace it with a system of representative government that will benefit Roosevelt Island residents and serve as a model for the rest of New York State.

Bill Long
The Octagon
It's a free county and everyone may not agree with this Blog or Mr. Long regarding the appointment of Mr. Fererra to the RIOC Board of Directors. For instance, a reader commented on post linked above:
RI Wins said...

It is possible the Governor did not appreciate the Board's ouster of Steve Shane, which was thought to be largely coordinated by Mr. Kalkin, the biggest advocate of the Master Lease concept, which Mr. Shane steadfastly opposed.

Now that Mr. Kalkin is gone, it remains to be seen if the Master Lease agreement will be executed after all.

Whatever happens to the Master Lease concept, no Governor would want to see his appointee -- RIOC Pres -- "fired" by the RIOC Board. The Governor appoints the RIOC President, and, logically, the Governor dismisses the RIOC President.

Gov. Cuomo does not make appointments without a reason.

There were Board members with expired terms lingering on the Board, and no pool of standby elected board members available from which to appoint new board members. Gov. Cuomo thus had no choice but to appoint a non-elected Board member, in this case appointing a particularly valuable, hard-working member of the community, Mr. Sal Ferrara, the director of the Child School.

This worthy appointment is a plus for RI - no matter which Board Member with an expired term Gov. Cuomo decided to dismiss.

Gov. Cuomo, in dismissing Mr. Kalkin, regains control over RIOC. Mr. Kalkin may have imagined he could always orchestrate the Board to do as he wished - in effect, dictate to the RIOC President. This indirectly challenged the State authority.

Plus, it cannot be easy for any RIOC President to function with in effect the threat of a Board voting as a bloc, ready to terminate the RIOC President seemingly at any time, over reasons that do not even need to be revealed by the Board.

Boards are not constituted to be the tools of one particularly active Board Member. Boards are forums where each Board member should have an equal say. A Board that is dominated by a particular Board member loses its validity as a group of independent-minded, equally empowered members.

So, thank goodness for Gov. Cuomo's action - and welcome Mr. Ferarra to the RIOC Board!
Another reader disagrees with the statement from RI Wins:
There’s been speculation in some of these posts that the Governor put Ferrera on the Board because he didn’t have a list of elected candidates to choose from. That’s nonsense. Senator Golden, from Brooklyn, wanted Ferrera on the board and pulled political strings to make it happen, with the obvious knowledge and consent of Ferrera. In the past when a seat opened up, the Governor’s office either left the incumbent there or consulted the local politicians for replacement candidates. For the last several years, our politicians have given the names of the candidates who had been elected. The Governor selected some, not all, of those people. In this instance, our local pols were deliberately kept in the dark and when they found out about this nomination, they successfully had it removed from the agenda of the Senate Finance Committee. After the session had been adjourned, in a backroom political deal, Senator Golden got it put back and then immediately passed it through the Senate. No list of Island candidates would have made any difference at all. This was a clear move by the Governor’s office to do a favor for Senator Golden and to reinforce to this community that our interests are irrelevant and he’s running the show. The real question is why would someone who supposedly has integrity want to play any part in this debacle by accepting the appointment?

If anyone believes that Ferrera knew nothing about these underhanded political shenanigans, they’re being na├»ve. But let’s assume they’re right and I’m the jaded one, now that Ferrera knows how he got this position, wouldn’t a person of integrity turn it down?

Addressing the post from RI Wins, the Governor does NOT appoint the RIOC President. It’s very clear in the RIOC By-Laws, which are public information, that the RIOC Board hires and fires the executives of the corporation. It even describes, by job title, who those executives are. In the past other boards accepted nominees from the Governor’s office and pretty much rubber stamped them into that position. This board, finally, stood up to that and took back the power given to them by law. I guess Cuomo didn’t like it, but what good is having an elected board if they’re going to allow Albany to continue to run the Island? We may as well go back to the old days and eliminate the time and effort it takes to put on an election.
Here's a very nice sounding press release from Governor Cuomo's office.
Albany, NY (June 7, 2011)

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today introduced the "Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011," to address major inadequacies in the current ethics system and restore public trust in government. The Governor's program bill establishes unprecedented transparency, strict disclosure requirements, and a strong independent monitor with broad oversight of New York State government.

"This legislation will help end an era of corruption in Albany that was fostered by a lack of transparency, oversight and enforcement," Governor Cuomo said. "This legislation will usher in a dramatic change in the way Albany does business and is a historic step in restoring the public's trust in government. I commend Majority Leader Skelos, Speaker Silver and their colleagues for their work on this bill and I look forward to its prompt passage and implementation."

Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos said, "We're pleased that the Governor is handing up this program bill today, and look forward to strengthening New York's ethics laws for those who serve in both the State Legislature and the Executive branch. As a result of this historic ethics reform agreement, which was the result of months of hard work, we've taken another step forward in restoring the public's trust in its government. I thank the Governor and the Speaker, and Senators Lanza, Flanagan and Hannon, for their commitment to achieving a positive result for all New Yorkers."

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, "The overwhelming majority of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle are hardworking, caring, public-spirited men and women of integrity. The agreed upon bill will ensure that our government is held to the highest standard by requiring more extensive financial disclosure and establishing serious penalties for those who violate the law. I commend my Assembly colleagues, particularly Assemblyman Danny O'Donnell for his leadership and efforts in crafting this legislation."
Very nice sentiments expressed in the statement. However, the statement is rendered meaningless and a cruel joke played upon the residents of Roosevelt Island with the appointment of the non-elected, non-resident, conflict ridden Sal Fererra to the RIOC Board of Directors.

This excerpt from the editorial in the June 18 issue of Roosevelt Island's local newspaper, the Main Street WIRE (6/18/11 Issue PDF File), expresses the opinion of many Roosevelt Island residents concerning Mr. Fererra's appointment:
What was Governor Andrew Cuomo thinking?

This week, he appointed Child School Executive Director Salvatore Ferrera to a seat on the RIOC Board of Directors.

Apparently, he realized that there would be a Don’t you dare! reaction, because he did it without consulting his fellow Democrats who represent Roosevelt Island – Assemblymember Micah Kellner and Senator Jose Serrano. He did it without talking to anyone in the community. He did it quietly. He did it on the sly. It was a swift, sneaky move, obviously some sort of back-alley deal with the Republican State Senator from Brooklyn, Marty Golden....

This 2005 image is of State Senator Martin Golden (second from left) and then Xaverian High School President President Sal Ferrera (second from right) honoring the members and coaches of the Xaverian Varsity Basketball Team.

A meeting between members of Roosevelt Island's Maple Tree Group, the group that successfully lobbied for and organized the RIOC nominee elections, and Mr. Fererra

 Image of Maple Tree Group Meeting With Mr. Fererra (hand on chin) last Thursday

took place last Thursday afternoon at the Child School/Legacy High School. I attended as well.

Mr. Fererra was urged by Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President and Maple Tree Group Member Matt Katz and other members of the Maple Tree Group to decline or resign his appointment as a RIOC Director because his acceptance would undo 15 years of Roosevelt Island residents efforts to achieve some small measure of democracy and elected representation.

Mr. Fererra stated that he sought out the position of RIOC Director from a friend at the Governor's office, that he followed the procedures outlined by the Governor's Appointment office and that he had no idea of the long history of Roosevelt Island residents seeking the right to vote for RIOC Board members. Upon hearing Mr. Fererra's statement expressing ignorance of the Roosevelt Island RIOC Board election process, I suggested that perhaps that lack of basic knowledge about Roosevelt Island was in itself a reason why he was not qualified to be part of the RIOC Board which runs Roosevelt Island. If he does not know that basic fact, it is hard to find a reason why he should hold such a responsible position.

Mr. Fererra repeatedly asserted that his reason for wanting to join the RIOC Board was to better integrate the Child School/Legacy High School with the Roosevelt Island community for the benefit of all. He believes that the projects he hopes to initiate at the Child School, such as an Art Center at 504 Main Street, an equestrian center and a boat house will improve the lives for all Roosevelt Island stakeholders.

It was pointed out to Mr. Fererra that these Child School/Legacy High School projects he hopes to bring to Roosevelt Island are the very reasons he should not be a RIOC Director because of the perception, if not reality, of a conflict of interest between his role as Executive Director of Child School and RIOC Director. It would be as though Hudson/Related Developer David Kramer, Octagon's Bruce Becker or Island House/Westview Owner David Hirshorn, all with major real estate interests on Roosevelt Island, were appointed to the RIOC Board. Mr. Fererra then pointed out that his situation was different because he worked for a non profit and would not be benefiting personally on any of these project.

That's ridiculous since any benefit to the Child School is also a benefit to it's Executive Director, Mr. Fererra, in one form or another.

Mr. Fererra then said he would recuse himself from any RIOC Board decisions involving the Child School.

Finally, Mr. Fererra asked, though prefaced that it was purely hypothetical, if he did resign could he appoint his successor? Upon hearing this our groans were barely contained because this statement clearly showed Mr. Fererra did not understand the point being made to him in the meeting - that the primary objection to his being on the RIOC Board is that he was not elected by the community.

The meeting ended shortly thereafter with Mr. Fererra saying that he would think about what was said during the meeting and provide an answer on Monday as to whether he would stay on as a RIOC Director.

Let's see what happens on Monday and hope that Roosevelt Island can avoid what could be a very nasty and unnecessary fight.

UPDATE 6/30 - Roosevelt Island residents and RIOC Directors urge Mr. Ferrera to resign during June RIOC Board Meeting (includes video of statements)

No Manhattan Bound F Train Subway Service From Roosevelt Island To Manhattan This Weekend - Expect Crowded Trams and Plan Accordingly

Image of Roosevelt Island Tram Station With No Manhattan Bound F Train During 5/14 weekend

According to the MTA:
F Coney Island-bound trains run via the M from Roosevelt Av to 47-50 Sts
Weekend, 12:01 AM Sat to 5 AM Mon, Jun 18 - 20

Trains run express from Roosevelt Av to Queens Plaza.

Trains skip the 21 St-Queensbridge, Roosevelt Island, Lexington Av-63 St, and 57 St Stations.

For service to these stations, take the F to 47-50 Sts and transfer to a Jamaica-bound F.

For service from these stations, take Jamaica-bound  Fto Roosevelt Av and transfer to a Coney Island-bound F. 
Expect crowded Manhattan Bound Roosevelt Island Trams. Plan accordingly.

UPDATE 12:20 PM: In response to my inquiry, Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez reports:
The MTA did not inform us about the service disruption. But, yes we are running both Tram cabins. You should have received a RIOC advisory early this morning.
and
Yes. Both the Tram and the Red bus will have extended service.
UPDATE 8 PM - From Mr. Martinez:
From 5am to 6am, the Tram crew will perform required system checks and maintenance. During this time, the Tram will not have scheduled departures. The Tram crew will, however, make a trip if necessary.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Double Rainbow Over Roosevelt Island After Today's Rain Storm


You Tube Video of Double Rainbow Over Roosevelt Island

Pretty cool double rainbow!

It got very dark out this afternoon before the rain started to pour down


but once the rain stopped


You Tube Video of I Can See Clearly Now By Johnny Nash.

Report From RIOC President Leslie Torres - Roosevelt Island Summer Time Activities, Park, Concerts, Camp, Swimming, Networking, Art, Gang Summit & More - Also Kenny's Retiring


You Tube Video of Mungo Jerry's In The Summertime

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Lesie Torres sends the following report to Roosevelt Island residents.
Summers on Roosevelt Island are beautiful. The Island is one of, if not the, greenest communities in the city. RIOC will be working hard to keep it that way, taking care of our vast green spaces and parks. I’d like to welcome all the seasonal workers who will be helping us over the next few months.

Speaking of hard work, I’d like to thank Basdeo "Kenny" Mangal for his 33 years of service to RIOC. Kenny, a maintenance supervisor, is retiring this week. A few weeks ago RIOC also held its Employee Appreciation Day celebration to recognize the employees who have been with us for five years and more. There are too many dedicated employees to name here, but I want to congratulate them all again.

There is so much to do on the Island during the summer months. I decided to turn to the experts – our community leaders, community based organizations, and residents – to get and share their input on what you can do on the island over the next few months.

Concerts

World-class musicians from Europe and the U.S. play quartets and sextets of Haydn, Martinu, Mozart, Brahms and Schubert, in a pair of special summer concerts featuring violins, viola, cellos, clarinet and piano. Hosted by the R&R Concert Series on Saturday June 25 and Friday July 1, 8pm, at Good Shepherd Center, 543 Main Street. Admission is free.

Hear the wonderful sounds of the uilleann pipes, the national bagpipe of Ireland, at the Sounds of Ireland concert on Saturday June 18 at 2:00pm. Roosevelt Island Branch Library, 524 Main Street.

Listen to a tribute to the great innovators of “Modern Jazz,” including Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Thelonius Monk, Ornette Coleman, and John Coltrane, at a concert by the Ken Simon Jazz Quartet. Tuesday June 21, 4:00pm, at the Roosevelt Island Branch Library.

Kids Camp & Activities

Island Kids summer camp for kids ages 4-10 runs from July 11th through August 26th. For more information call 646-752-3839 or email islandkidsri@gmail.com.

Roosevelt Island Youth Program Summer Camp runs from July 5th to August 19th from 8am to 6pm. Call (212) 527-2505 or 212-935-3645 for more information.

The Child School summer camp for kids ages 5-19 runs from July 5 to August 11 from 1:00pm to 3:30pm, daily. For more information call 212-223-5482 and speak to camp directors Victor, Darryl or Joe.

An evening basketball league at Blackwell Park for youth ages 11 to 19 will run games from 6pm to 10pm. Days to be announced. Call 212-935-3645 for more information.

Create Hip Hop Jewelry on Tuesday July 12 at 4:00pm. All material will be provided. For kids ages 12 to 18. Roosevelt Island Branch Library, 524 Main Street.

The Roosevelt Island Marlins Swimming Team offers a swimming summer program that run through July and August. Official registration dates: June 11, 18 & 25th, 9:00-11:00am at SportsPark and 12:00- 1:00pm at Westview. The program starts Friday, July 1st, both pools. Call 646-415-8583 for more information.

Networking

RIRA is hosting their first networking breakfast for residents of the Octagon and the Southtown buildings on Saturday, June 25th. The breakfast is an opportunity to welcome newcomers, to inform them of Island amenities, cultural organizations, and the nature of RIRA. Northtown buildings will be addressed in the fall. Visit riraonline.com for more information.

Art

Gallery RIVAA, 527 Main St., has a new exhibition, Art from the Heart IV; A collection of visual art by patients and residents of Coler Goldwater Specialty Hospital and Nursing Facility. Gallery hours: Wed. & Fri 6pm-9pm, Sat. & Sun 11am- 5pm.

The Octagon Gallery, 888 Main St., will be exhibiting “Part of the same rainbow: US + Water”, an exhibition of art by young folk dancers in Bulgaria, working children in Bangladesh, and students from R.I. Child School/Legacy HS. June 15 through July 4.

Hang Out, Check Out

Thanks to the Roosevelt Islander for posting on the blog a request for residents to recommend things to do this summer. Here is what they suggested:
  • View the Manhattan skyline at night
  • Spend time in the open spaces.
  • Hang out at the concrete wall facing the Western channel overlooking the FDR: it’s a great place to sit, read, sunbathe, meditate, walk or just be. 
  • Visit the Historic Lighthouse and Lighthouse Park.
  • Hang out on Meditation steps.
  • Visit the Renwick Ruins.
Fun for the Family For purposes of full disclosure, this recommendation is mine. As a mom of two boys, I know how fun it can be to grab a blanket, a light dinner, and hang out outdoors on a beautiful night to watch a great movie. I hope you can join us. All the movies will be shown at Firefighters Field starting at dusk. Iron Man 2 6/25/11 (Rain Date: 7/3/11) The Goonies 7/9/11 (Rain Date: 7/17/11) Star Trek 7/23/11 - (Rain Date: 7/31/11) Up 8/6/11 (Rain Date: 8/14/11) Tron 8/20/11 (Rain Date: 8/28/11) The Incredibles 9/3/11 (Rain Date: 9/4/11) Gang Summit

Last, but not least, I want to bring to your attention an important upcoming event: the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department will be hosting its second Gang Summit at the Good Shepherd Community Center on Thursday, June 23rd from 6:30pm-8:30pm. The event will include a presentation from renowned gang expert Ron "Cook" Barrett.
A version of the RIOC President's column also appears on RIOC's web site and the June 18, 2011 Main Street WIRE. 

It will soon be summer in the city on Roosevelt Island.


You Tube Video of Lovin' Spoonful Summer In The City

Roosevelt Island Resident Among 26 People Arrested For Possession and Internet Distribution of Child Sexual Assault Images

Image from Wired (Click on Image To Enlarge)

Wired reports:
Law enforcement officials announced felony charges against 26 people on Tuesday for the possession and distribution of violent child pornography over the internet, in one of the most wide-ranging cyber-sex-crime roll-ups in recent memory.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said the defendants used the internet, and specifically peer-to-peer file-sharing networks, to trade the images, which depict sexual assault on children as young as one-year-old, like “baseball cards.”...
What's extremely upsetting as well as scary is that one of those arrested is a Roosevelt Island resident. According to the Wired map above, a 25 year old Roosevelt Island Main Street MBA student was among those arrested.

The NY Daily News has more.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Governor Cuomo and NY State Senate Spit In The Eye Of Roosevelt island Residents By Appointing Unelected, Conflict Ridden, Non Resident to RIOC Board of Directors -Horrible Way To Start Your Ethics and Good Government Agenda Mr. Cuomo

Image of Rotting Fish From NY Daily News

Something stinks like rotting fish in the way the New York State Senate and Governor Andrew Cuomo are attempting to bring back colonial rule to Roosevelt Island with the apparent naming of Salvatore Fererra, currently Executive Director of the Child School/Legacy High School, to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors.

Mr. Fererra, who does not live on Roosevelt Island and has worked here for less than a year, is being shoved down the throats of Roosevelt Island residents as a RIOC Board Director without having been elected by the community as have 6 of the 7 current resident RIOC Board Directors. The only Resident Board Director not elected by the community is David Kraut who was an existing Board member before the new RIOC election procedure was implemented. The 2 other RIOC Board Members are representatives of NY State government. Notice how the non-NY State government RIOC Board members are residents of Roosevelt Island which Mr. Fererra is not.

I learned about the naming of Mr. Fererra to the RIOC Board yesterday. According to the NY State Senate Finance Committee
Senate Standing Committee on Finance
Senator John A. DeFrancisco, Chair
  Wednesday, June 15, 2011
MEETING WILL BE CALLED OFF THE FLOOR
The Senate Finance Committee will consider the following nominations (TO APPEAR):
... Salvatore Ferrera as a Member of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation
(pending confirmation by the Committee on Transportation)...
Later that evening the Albany Citizen One Blog reported:
All of the appointments presented in the Senate chamber were confirmed, ... The following were confirmed...
... Salvatore Ferrera as a Member of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation...
Last night, I sent the following inquiry to Mr. Fererra:
I understand that you were just appointed as a Board Director of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp. (RIOC).

Do you wish to make any statement regarding your appointment that I can publish on the Roosevelt Islander Blog and share with the Roosevelt Island community?

For instance, as Executive Director of the Child School/Legacy High School do you think it is proper for you to be on the RIOC Board when the Child School/Legacy High School is a tenant of RIOC, may be seeking additional space on Roosevelt Island for an Arts Center, Equestrian Center and Boat House as well as being the recipient of an extremely below market rent for your school space of almost 50,000 sq ft. on the Waterfront Promenade at $6 sq ft.?

Do you think that such real estate entanglements represent a conflict of interest to your fiduciary obligations as a RIOC Board Member?  If not, why?

In the past, RIOC Board members had to resign from other Roosevelt Island organizations in order to be on the RIOC Board. Do you intend to resign from the Child School/Legacy High School in order to serve on the RIOC Board?

Do you think it is proper for you to accept an appointment to the RIOC Board without participating in the election process for a RIOC Board seat which many Roosevelt Island residents have fought so hard for many years to achieve at least a small measure of democracy on Roosevelt Island?

Roosevelt Island residents would be very interested in learning exactly what your qualifications are for being a RIOC Director.
As of this morning, I have not received a response from Mr. Fererra.

If Mr. Fererra's appointment to the RIOC Board is not reversed, that means that a current RIOC Board member will have to be replaced. Checking the RIOC web site it shows that the term of three current RIOC Board members have expired.

They are:
  • Faye Fryer Christian - term expired May 19, 2010
  • Jonathan Kalkin - term expired June 10 2011
  • David Kraut - term expired June 10 2011
It will be outrageous if any of these RIOC Directors are replaced by the unelected Mr. Fererra but it will be a gigantic travesty and injustice if Mr. Kalkin is the RIOC Director replaced.

I may not always agree with Mr. Kalkin on a particular issue but he is an extraordinary public servant for Roosevelt Island devoting many hours of his time and innovative ideas for the benefit of our community and individual residents. Through his persistent efforts the Roosevelt Island Retail Main Street Master Leaseholder was accomplished, many companies think of Roosevelt Island as a place to experiment with innovative solutions to municipal problems and Mr. Kalkin is always ready to respond to questions from Roosevelt Island residents as well as this blog and to help residents with any problem or issue they may have.

Something really, really stinks here. Questions need to be asked and truthful answers obtained as to how Mr. Fererra, out of nowhere, managed to be named as a RIOC Board Director. Why? Whose interests does this serve?

UPDATE 1:25 PM - I am now advised that Jonathan Kalkin was the RIOC Director replaced. According to Assembly Member Micah Kellner:
I’m extremely disappointed that Jonathan Kalkin was removed from the RIOC board. Jonathans energy and ingenuity brought terrific innovation to Roosevelt Island and there’s no way that he can be replaced. This is a great loss for everyone who cares about Roosevelt Island.
This is disgusting and a blatant abuse of Roosevelt Island by the NY State Senate and Governor Cuomo. One can only ask WHY? What is going on?

Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Matt Katz adds:
Your blog says it all and in the appropriate outraged language.  Salvatore Ferrera’s appointment to the RIOC Board of Directors was a stealth campaign that maliciously and deliberately took place behind our backs.   Having been one of the workers who created and executed the highly successful elections that placed six Island residents on the nine-member RIOC Board of Directors, I am astounded at the arrogance of our colonial masters in Albany and the insult to this community that this step encompasses.  A decade’s slog towards democratic government has been upset in a day.  I await a response from the current resident Board members, whose seats are now all in jeopardy.  We will devise an appropriate community response as we learn the full import of this calamity.
          Matthew Katz
          President, RIRA 
UPDATE 2:05 PM - Sherrie Helstien, Secretary of RIRA Common Council and the person in charge of PR for Maple Tree Group’s (MTG) two Community Elections writes:
Those of us who have worked our asses off to get two impeccable elections created for, and on behalf of this community in order to bring us some small semblance of local, democratic governance, are stunned, disturbed, infuriated, and utterly nauseated by this turn of events.  We had the help and  support of the Spitzer and Paterson administrations, as well as former DHCR Chair, Deborah van Amerongen and RIOC President/CEO, Steve Shane in our election endeavors.  Former Governor Pataki (Rep.), initiated the concept of having local residents participate in determining the direction of the community’s development and  its varied issues in his “Open Spaces Law”, passed by the NY State legislature:  it states that the RIOC Board must be comprised of a majority of ISLAND RESIDENTS.  The current Governor and Senate Republicans who supported this nomination need to be reminded of their obligation to follow the law and to honor past precedents put into place by past Governors.

We have yet to find out exactly who else on the current Board this community chose may be getting replaced and by whom.  This is a continuation of past assaults on a community that has lived under the grave assault of “taxation without representation” for far too long and it is UN-DEMOCRATIC. 

We have troops in two countries (as far as we know), and if our federal reps vote on it, the (any) President of the U.S. may be given the right to decide unilaterally to declare war anywhere in the world, at any time, to “support democracy”—but what about here at HOME?  Where is this small community’s DEMOCRACY???   Will Roosevelt Island residents unite and start thinking like the people in Iran, Egypt, Syria, Libya, Yemen, & Bahrain? 

We need to open our eyes and see  ourselves as we are seen by these state legislators: as a housing development with people who have no legal standing which translates into having no local representative democracy.  It is that simple.  And it is that hard.  Will our new residents see and understand what this means to them when, for instance, the parkland they thought was theirs/ours, is given away (and for a pittance at that), yet again without meaningful community input?  We’ll have to see… 

Shame on this Governor and shame on the MONEY and deal-making  that has probably been behind this extremely aggressive act.
Sherrie is right - who economically benefits from replacing Mr. Kalkin on the RIOC Board? In almost every scandal involving government appointments - follow the money, follow the money and let's see where that leads. 

UPDATE: 11:55 PM - Roosevelt Island's NY State Senator Jose Serrano comments:
The controversy regarding the recent RIOC Board appointment highlights the need for legislation, like the bill (S4405) I’m sponsoring with Assembly Member Kellner, that would give Roosevelt Island residents a higher degree of self-governance. Roosevelt Island has distinctive needs that are specific to the area, and its residents uniquely qualified to play an active role in its leadership.
UPDATE 6/17 - Here is the video minutes for the meeting dated June 15, 2011 at 5 PM - 5:51 PM of:
SUPPLEMENTAL AGENDA*
The Senate Finance Committee will consider the following nomination:
Salvatore Ferrera as a Member of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation 
The video shows at approximately the 31 minute 15 second mark,  that Mr. Fererra's appointment was withdrawn to be dealt with at a later time according to the Committee Chair. Nothing else was mentioned about Mr. Fererra for the rest of the meeting so unless there was another committee meeting later in the evening, I can't tell when the appointment to the RIOC Board was approved by the Committee.

Also, Mr. Fererra advises in response to a question from me:
As far as my appointment it went thru the office of Senate Majority leader Dean Skelos.
UPDATE 6/17 -RIOC Director Margie Smith comments:
Yesterday’s appointment of Salvatore Ferrera to the RIOC Board is outrageous on so many levels.  This community has worked tirelessly for over a decade to have elected representation on the RIOC Board.  In the last two rounds of board appointments, Island residents gave their neighbors a voice by running for election rather than just accepting appointments without any input from the community.  That set a precedent, or so we hoped, for future appointments.  Yesterday’s action ignores that precedent and shows a total disregard for the community’s wishes.

To add insult to injury, Mr. Ferrera will be taking the place of resident Board Member Jonathan Kalkin.  Jonathan has been one of the most active members in the history of the board.  He has initiated, and is currently managing, a number of crucial projects, and, because of his special expertise in technology, and his forward-thinking, these projects could be in serious jeopardy.  The remaining board members will do our best to see these projects through to fruition, but Jonathan will be sorely missed at the helm of these initiatives.

Bottom line, I personally believe it's a privilege being on the RIOC Board, but only if you hold that seat because the residents of the Island vote you in.
and so does RIOC Director Howard Polivy:
Without touching on all the issues of this recent Albany action, I just want to react to the end of Jonathan's tenure on the RIOC board.

He worked tirelessly to improve our shared quality of life. These broad efforts ranged from the details necessary to assure smooth operations of the complex urban ecology that this Island represents in miniature, with all the balancing of competing interests, to the notion that our community may model new interesting technologies to benefit all New Yorkers.

Most importantly, as Chair of the Real Estate Committee, he gave a great deal of his time and energy to two key developments. Much has been made of the Master Lease which will soon become effective. However, and much less in the public eye, Jonathan took the lead in efforts preserve effective affordable housing for the middle class. I am confident that as details emerge his vision will be vindicated and it's success will prove useful in other areas in the state.
UPDATE 6 PM - Roosevelt Island's New York City Council Member Jessica Lappin comments:
No disrespect to the new incoming member, but it’s outrageous that the Governor’s office didn’t consult or inform any of us before making this appointment.  I don’t understand why he disregarded the electoral process we had previously hammered out.  It’s sad to lose both Jonathan and the more transparent and democratic process we’d worked out for selecting RIOC board members.
UPDATE 10 PM - Jonathan Kalkin comments:
I appreciate the huge amount of support from the community that I have been getting not only today, but for the last several years. This decision is a threat to our democracy on Roosevelt Island and ignores the hard fought democratic process that so many have worked tirelessly for so many years. Roosevelt Island is closer than ever to having a vibrant Main Street and long term affordable housing and we must not let anything disrupt that progress. I challenge the current and incoming board members to continue and complete the reform initiatives I have fought so hard for and I know they are up to the task. Public service can take many different forms and I will continue to be a voice for a better quality of life and democracy for this community.
UPDATE 6/18 - Roosevelt Island Maple Tree Group met with Mr. Fererra to urge him to resign or not accept appointment as RIOC Director. More Here.

UPDATE 6/20 - Latest on whether Mr. Fererra will accept the appointment to RIOC Board or resign his seat.

UPDATE 6/30 - Roosevelt Island residents and RIOC Directors urge Mr. Ferrera to resign during June RIOC Board Meeting (includes video of statements)

Roosevelt Island Transportation Town Hall Meeting Tonight 7 PM Good Shepherd Community Center - Come Ask Questions, Get Answers on Red Bus, Tram & Parking

Image From RIOC (Click to Enlarge)

According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC), the Roosevelt Island Transportation Town Hall Meeting will take place:
Thursday, June 16th at 7 pm at the Good Shepherd Community Center Lower Level

Representatives from RIOC will be present at this informational session to present data and answer questions about the Red Bus, the Tram and Parking on the Island.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

NYPD Performing Practice Drills On Roosevelt Island Tram Today - Service Will Not Be Interrupted

 Image from sharathvc at yfrog

A Tweet from this morning:
Roosevelt island tram stuck!! NYPD below trying a rescue!
No, that's not what is happening.

According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):
Please be advised from approximately 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. today, June 15th, NYPD is performing practice drills at the Tram. Service will not be interrupted during the training.
More information on Roosevelt Island Tram Rescue Drills from previous posts here.

UPDATE 2:30 PM - Some scenes from today's NYPD Roosevelt Island Rescue Drill.

NYPD officers at the base of the Tram Tower,



rappelling down a rope from the Tram tower,




on top of the Tram Tower,





and the vehicles to take the NYPD  officers back to their stations.


Earlier in the day, the NYPD officers were rappelling from the Tram Cabin to a boat in the East River. In the event that the Tram gets stuck over the East River and all of the many back up systems intended to bring the cabin back to one of the stations don't work, Tram riders will be evacuated by rope to a waiting boat in the East River, just like that do it in Portland Oregon.


You Tube video of Portland Oregon Tram Rescue Drill

New Roosevelt Island Mom Seeking Nearby Activities With Other Moms and Babies - Any Suggestions and Congratulations to the New Parents!

Image From Wear Diapers

I received this request from Eva, a new Roosevelt Island Mom.
I am looking for activities for Moms with Babies (meet-up groups etc.) on RI and in Manhattan not far from the Tram and thought you might know some or know if there is an overview somewhere? I am sure I am not the first island mom looking for this.
I replied:
The Roosevelt Island Public Library has an Infant Lapsit on Monday's starting at 10:30 AM that you may be interested in.
Babies from birth to 18 months old and their parents/caregivers can enjoy great books, lively songs, and rhymes, and meet other babies in the neighborhood.
Hope that helps.
Any other suggestions?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Design Stylish and Cool Flip Flops Today At The Roosevelt Island Library - Just Keep Your Bare Feet Off The Tables Please


You Tube Video Making Cool Flip Flops

NYPL Teens Tweeted:
Tired of the same old sandals! Join us at Roosevelt Island for some stylish shoe design! 4:00.
When? Today. According to the Roosevelt Island Public Library:
Tired of the same old sandals? Join decorating diva Pamela Isaac as she shows you how to add your personal style to everyday shoes. All materials will be provided. For ages 12 to 18.
Just don't take the flip flops off and put your bare feet on the Starbucks table please.

Opportunities Available With New York City Civic Corps - Help The City, Develop Your Professional Skills & Get Paid!!!!


You Tube Video of NYC Civic Corp Swearing In

Are you a recent college graduate interested in helping your fellow New Yorkers, learn valuable skills and get paid for it as well? If so, this message from the New York City Civic Corps is for you.
Greetings,

NYC Service is now accepting applications for the 2011-2012 NYC Civic Corps. The NYC Civic Corps is an AmeriCorps program sponsored by the Mayor’s Office of New York City and is a fulltime professional work opportunity.

Successful applicants are placed within a nonprofit or City agency to help build and expand an organization’s capacity to host volunteer programs. NYC Civic Corps members will have the opportunity to serve New Yorkers where the City’s needs are greatest: education; economic opportunity; environment and clean energy; and health.

NYC Service provides monthly trainings and facilitates networking seminars for NYC Civic Corps members. This is an excellent opportunity for recent college graduates to start their careers by making an impact in New York City, Many of our alumni have gone on to secure jobs in the nonprofit sector.

Please see the attached documents for more details about the program, including program requirements and benefits. A link to the application can be found here  The deadline for applications is 7/8/2011.

For questions please call (212) 788-3209. Thank you.
According to NYC Service:

...While in service, corps members receive:
  • a monthly stipend of $1,270 (pre-tax)
  • basic medical coverage
  • a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award*
  • monthly training Seminars providing skill development, knowledge building, and networking opportunities...
*Contingent upon the successful completion of the 10-month service term and a minimum of 1700 service hours.
A NYC Civic Corp member describes his experience below.


You Tube Video of NYC Civic Corp At Work

This could be a good opportunity. Why not give it a shot?

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Resident's Tired Of Hearing What Not To Do on Roosevelt Island - No Bike Riding on RI Bridge, No Dogs On Some Lawns, No Baby Strollers On Red Bus During Rush Hours, No NO NO

A guest post from Roosevelt Island resident Bill Long below.

Image From Bill Long

I object to the sign on the Roosevelt Island Bridge outlawing bicycles and on the Rivercross lawn outlawing dogs.


Here's why.

People who stand on the left side of the subway escalator instead of riding on the right really annoy me. I think their behavior is uncivil to those of us who prefer to walk up the escalator stairs.

Nevertheless, I seldom, if ever say anything to these uncivil types because that would be uncivil as well. I think most of the time people have the right to behave the way they want, as long as they aren't causing direct harm to those around them.

I would certainly never advocate that the MTA put up a sign demanding that people stand to the right on the escalators, much less penalize people who didn't comply, even though I consider this behavior obnoxious.

That's why the new signs that have gone up on the Roosevelt Island bridge and on the lawn beside Rivercross are so distrubing to me. These signs tell me I can't ride my bike on the path across the bridge and I can't walk my dog on the lawn. Some cyclists and some dog owners may exhibit uncivil behavior. But why is that a reason to penalize those of us who are deferential to pedestrians on the bridge or those of us who pick up after our dogs?

The administration and leadership on Roosevelt Island shows an unfortunate tendency to tell people what /not/ to do.

"Don't ride your bike here." "Don't walk your dog there." "Don't bring your baby stroller on the Red Bus during rush hour." "Don't open this type of store on Main St." "Don't privatize this building." "Don't separately meter the electricity in that building."

Roosevelt Island will never achieve its potential until we start expanding what people can do. That should be the goal of our leaders. Until that becomes the objective, nothing of value will be accomplished here.

Bill Long
The Octagon

I don't know if Mr. Long is Mad As Hell yet like Howard Beale in Network but...


You Tube Video of Mad As Hell From Network

Roosevelt Island Transportation Town Hall Meeting On June 16 - RIRA Planning Committee Chair Objects To RIOC's Lack Of Coordination With RIRA and Says Town Hall Meeting Will Be Waste Of Time


You Tube Video of Roosevelt Island Red Bus

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Leslie Torres June 3 Report To The Community reviewed the current status of Red Bus operations and noted:
... If you are interested in hearing more about the Red Bus operations, or other Island transportation issues, please join us on Thursday, June 16th for a community meeting on island transportation issues. The meeting will be held at the Good Shepherd Community Center at 7pm....
Unfortunately, neither Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Matt Katz nor Planning Committee Chair Frank Farance are able to attend the Transportation Town Hall Meeting. Mr. Farance sent the following email to RIOC which he is sharing with the Roosevelt Island community.
Ms. Torres, Mr. Martinez, Ms. Wilder-

Like Mr. Katz, I won't be attending either.  Considering that Mr. Katz, Mr. Hamburger, and I have been working on this topic for a year now, I expected that RIOC would have coordinated with us RIRA representatives, but we haven't been involved.

The problem with these flawed RIOC initiatives include RIOC ignoring the community and putting on this public display of PRETENDING to listen.  We, the residents, have spent much time over the past several years understanding the transportation issues ... understanding them much better than RIOC.  The point of keeping these meetings small was to retain the knowledge (Knowledge Management as the management practice is known) so there would be continuity and completeness, NOT CALLING ENDLESS TOWN MEETINGS WHERE NOTHING GETS DONE.  The residents have been through these kinds of useless meetings ... they'll be asking "What is RIRA doing on this?" and the answer is "RIRA is engaged, but RIOC is not doing follow-up or doing its tasks".

The main problems in the past several months have been RIOC's inaction (we been promised meetings and completed actions for many items), but it is RIOC that is unable to respond to and manage this one-mile bus route and roadway in this one-horse town.  For example, there are problems with the signage at the intersections, crosswalks, etc. -- safety issues that you (Ms. Torres, Mr. Martinez, Director Guerra) have not responded to.  As another example, we were supposed to try a no-parking lane at 7-9AM in the morning to speed red buses, but no response from you.

I suggest you cancel the meeting since: (1) it will show RIOC's ineptness, (2) little will be accomplished.  I also suggest that you spend time working on the actual tasks and action items that we've put together, and call the working meetings that you promised to do.  The residents should not have their time wasted.

Frank Farance
RIRA Planning Committee Chair
Ms. Torres latest report on Red Bus issues is here and RIRA's Island Services Committee Reports including Red Bus information are here and here.

UPDATE 2:50 PM - RIOC Community Relations Specialist Erica Wilder replies:
Dear Frank,
 
I am sorry to hear you will not be able to make it to the community transportation meeting. Please be advised that the meeting is designed to be an informational presentation for the entire community, not just for RIRA or any other sub-committee who have been kind enough to work with us on our transportation issues.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Blimp Flying Over Roosevelt Island Today - Take The MetLife Blimp Tour

When looking up to the sky over Roosevelt Island, it is not unusual to see a low flying helicopter or seaplane barely passing above the Queensboro Bridge and almost touching Roosevelt Island building rooftops.

Earlier this afternoon this Blimp flew past the Queensboro Bridge heading north over Roosevelt Island


to an unknown destination.

I believe it was a Metlife Blimp although no indication from their web page that New York City was a destination today.

Here's how you fly a blimp.


You Tube Video of MetLife Blimp Tour

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