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Monday, November 25, 2013

Roosevelt Island Residents Association Witch Hunt To Expel Farance Continues - RIRA Communications Chair Asserts Witch Hunt Characterization Irresponsible and Disrespectful Of The Council

 She's A Witch Image From Monty Python & Holy Grail

The Report From Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Elle Polivy is usually published every two weeks on Roosevelt Islander Online as well as in the Main Street WIRE (PDF File). Last Friday I sent a reminder to RIRA President Polivy to send over her column. Ms. Polivy informed me that this week's column was being written by RIRA Communications Chair Jeff Prekopa so I asked Mr. Prekopa to send me the column.

Mr. Prekopa responded by informing me that he did not want the column to appear in the Roosevelt Islander Online because he did not like my coverage of RIRA's attempt to expel Frank Farance from the organization. According to Mr. Prekopa:
... For you to characterize the matter as a witch hunt was irresponsible, disrespectful of the Council, and showed a callous disregard for the lives he’s affected. I can’t, in good conscience, provide the information you are requesting....
I responded:
I typically publish the RIRA President's Report as a Service to the Roosevelt Island community.

If you choose not to have your article published on the Roosevelt Islander that is your decision though I find it particularly revealing that your decision is based upon disagreeing with my opinion on an issue of concern to the Roosevelt Island public.

Rather than having a dialogue on this issue you appear to want to shut down any discussion by those you disagree with.

I will be publishing a story about your refusal to publish the RIRA Presidents Report on Roosevelt Islander.

May I include your statement above in the post. If not, I will summarize it myself.
Mr. Prekopa replied by raising doubts that I would characterize his response fairly and concluded:
... We fulfilled our obligation to the community by publishing our position in a reputable media outlet...
The reputable media outlet Mr. Prekopa references is the Main Street WIRE. (His column is here on Page 2 but cannot be separately linked to other than in PDF format.)

I replied to Mr. Prekopa:
I will characterize your statement to me in the manner you wish.

That would be most accurately accomplished by publishing your statements as written to me.

Do I have your permission to do that?

Without that permission, I will characterize your statement myself in a fair and objective manner as I always strive to do.

The witch hunt characterization of the attempt by some RIRA members to expel Frank Farance is my opinion which I continue to hold particularly in view of you and others refusing to provide specific instances justifying his expulsion.
Mr. Prekopa did not respond. For accuracy purposes, I would have preferred publishing Mr. Prekopa's full correspondence but would not without his approval.

I am not the only one who believes RIRA's attempt to expel Mr. Farance amounts to a witch hunt.

 RIRA Common Council member Trevre Andrews sent this statement about the expulsion attempt:
I was going to apologize for not making it last night as I was traveling for work, but after watching the partial video of the meeting last night, and seeing that RIRA meetings have gone from being pretty tough procedurally to an all out witch hunt I couldn't believe my eyes.

Frank hasn't cause the problems in RIRA and I won't stand for being part of a council that isn't open to hearing anyone's opinion in any forum. That's democracy, "you gotta be able to stand up and acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, whose standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours."

A lot of what Frank has brought up is important, some I would have phrase differently, but it makes it no less true and deserving of the entire island's attention.

Congratulations. It seems you have not only wasted a large portion of another meeting trying to cut off discussion rather than have one but at the very same time, with sweet hypocrisy, done the exact thing to Frank that your "Bill of Particulars" indicates he has done to you.
Perhaps RIRA's Grand Inquisitors will try to expel Mr. Andrews soon as well.

In response to Mr. Andrews statement and my post, RIRA Island Services Committee Chair Aaron Hamburger replied:
You guys don't understand the reasons for the proposed expulsion of Frank. It's not a legal issue; it's an ethical and unacceptable bad behavior issue.

In my opinion, the two major "sins" of Frank were the WIRE letter and the formation of a "Public Safety" group as a rival to RIRA's Public Safety Committee. Both these actions undermine the work and credibility of RIRA with RIOC and the general public. Frank was in disagreement with the actions, policies and leadership of RIRA, but didn't work within the organization to correct things.

The proper action to take by Frank was to resign from RIRA. Outside of RIRA, Frank could say or write whatever he wanted and form any new group(s) in opposition to RIRA. You don't seriously damage RIRA while still a member of the Common Council. That's why it's an ethical issue. He is being expelled for misconduct per the RIRA constitution.
Mr. Andrews replied:
We understand it just fine. I don’t agree with it. I don’t think we should be wasting our precious time getting rid of any non-officer RIRA member for any reason – it’s just not worth the effort. And certainly what Frank has done represents no more than a fart in the wind, rather than some type of organizational atomic bomb which people are making it out to be. Are you going to expel me next because I want to start a committee outside of RIRA and write letters to the editor? Come to think of it this criterion applies to quite a few on the council.
and so did I:
RIRA purports to represent the interests of Roosevelt Island residents. How else will residents know what is going on inside RIRA if RIRA members who disagree with its President are not allowed to state those disagreements publicly?

Also, Frank was encouraged by Erin, the Chair of the PSC committee and other PSC Committee members to form his own separate committee. They did not tell him that if he did so he would have to resign from RIRA.

Since he was encouraged by the RIRA PSC committee to do what he did, how can you characterize that as a "major sin"?
RIRA has created a web page attempting to explain its reason for the expulsion motion. An excerpt:
In response to numerous and ongoing complaints, the Communications Committee began an investigation into various misconducts committed by Frank Farance. We reviewed hundreds of internal and external emails, blogs postings, letters to the press and other documents. In them, Mr. Farance works the same three themes over and over...
  1. He makes repeated attempts to discredit the Chair of the Social, Cultural and Educational Committee most recently over a manufactured issue regarding a preliminary committee report
  2. He attempts to undermine and unseat the President
  3. He refuses to abide by the majority decisions of the Council, most notably the Public Safety Committee
Rather than working discretely within the organization to resolve what he feels are issues, Mr. Farance prefers to create a public spectacle of the organization's internal affairs. He repeatedly circumvents protocol by releasing information to the press and blogs. Mr. Farance uses an astounding assortment of tactics including inuendo, omission, fabrication, supposition, intimidation and threat to advance his agenda, all at the expense of other council members and the orgnization overall.
Bound by its fiduciary duty to protect the orgnization, the Communication Committee concluded that intervention was required. We prepared and presented to the Common Council a Bill of Particulars calling for the expulsion of Frank Farance. The measure passed with an overwhelming majority. This corrective measure is part of a long history of attempts to correct Mr. Farance's behavior. Over the years he has been counselled, asked to resign, rebuked by the Common Council, and formally censured.
More from RIRA here.

Here's video of the RIRA Expulsion Witch Hunt.

This is absurd and a complete waste of time.