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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Roosevelt Island Protest Demonstration Against RIOC Public Safety Department Brutality

As previously reported:

Following brutality allegations brought against the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department, the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) unanimously voted to support  a community demonstration to "address Public Safety Concerns".
The RIRA sponsored Public Safety Demonstration took place noontime today at Good Shepherd Plaza with a brief rally

Image Of Roosevelt Island Public Safety Rally Today

 which was soon moved inside to the Good Shepherd Community Center


where a full house crowd heard testimony about instances of Public Safety abusive behavior.


ABC Channel 7 news reported on the protest.



The demonstration began with this outdoor rally



and went inside Good Shepherd. RIRA Public Safety Committee Chair Erin Feeley - Nahem was the first speaker.



Ms. Feeley-Nahme's prepared text is below:
Good Afternoon. I'd like to thank you for coming out in support of this event. My name is Erin Feely-Nahem and as the elected chair of the Roosevelt Island Resident Association 's Public Safety Committee I will be Chairing today's rally.

As the Chair of the RIRA Public Safety Committee it is my responsibility to document and research reports or patterns of Public Safety Officer misconduct, when brought to the committee members' attention by residents of our community. We consider this the most important aspect of the Committee's mission.

Anyone who has lived on this Island for a couple of years is aware of the variety of resident accounts alleging arrogant and unacceptable behavior on the part of various officers under the command of the Director of the Public Safety Department, Keith Guerra. The stories we have brought to the attention of Director Guerra over the years are diversified: blatant rude disrespect and arrogance, profiling and on-going harassment, aggressive and brutal handling of residents during questioning or arrest, along with the more common place violation on a daily basis of our Constitutional Rights. These repeated occurrences, in their various forms, represent a pattern, a culture of abuse and an incompetence that has worsened over time, despite a supposedly open dialogue with Director Guerra.

Director Guerra's arrogant mentality does not allow him to be open to our feedback. He cannot hear our concerns. His leadership and policing strategy continue to be focused on the reinforcement of his "zero tolerance" "maximum enforcement" approach, which our community does not feel is warranted. By exaggerating in conversations, and in meetings, the presence of gang related activity, poorly documented with Face book photos of "posing" individuals, for us, his argument falls short on proof when our community's crime statistics are reviewed.

Yesterday an anonymous counter-campaign of character assassination was launched against Anthony Jones. A primitive flyer, similar to information disseminated by Director Guerra in the past, which encourages fear within the community under the illusion of "gang" activity and danger, was utilized to discredit Anthony Jones. This technique of blaming the victim is common place for Director Guerra; seen in his manipulation of facts in Neal Stueber's case and in many others. The flyer was an obvious attempt to divert our attention away from the brutality of Anthony's encounter with the PSO; the fact that he was beaten within inches of his life, and that his constitutional rights were violated. These are the facts clear and simple. These are the issues that we are protesting today. The "gang" smoke screen isnt going to work this time. We cannot lose sight of our demands. After all, This is Roosevelt Island, not South Central LA, or Tony Sopranoland, in NJ.

We are here today because our patience has worn thin and we are now ready to demand change. Our meetings with Director Guerra and our letters to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) requesting investigations have been in vain, failing to result in change. This lack of change confirms and perpetuates our committee's belief that resident concerns are not falling on deaf ears but instead on ears that support unconditionally the brutality of the PSD and the violation of our rights. The fact that the Director of Public Safety is fully aware of these events, and does nothing to change the pattern, supports our belief that in fact he maliciously encourages these abusive behaviors. The brutality and excessive force, documented by many residents over the years, continues, despite our protests .

We believe that only a public airing of grievances and increased community control can overcome the isolation and intimidation individuals can and do feel in pursuing accountability and a change in law officer's behavior. We believe that Assembly Member Micah Kellner's Bill A00956 is the first step in institutionalizing the type of oversight required toward this end.

For this community Anthony Jones's story has been the catalyst for change. For too long many of us have been intimidated and remained silent, fearful of retaliation or slander. Monica Vega, Anthony's mothers has given us all courage. We are no longer isolated; rather we are building a movement, across race, gender, age, and social class lines. We are no longer in supplicant or pleading mode. WE ARE IN A FIGHTING MODE! We are not pleading or requesting; We are Demanding:
Today and for our future WE DEMAND A FEDERAL INVESTIGATION INTO the VIOLATION OF OUR CONSTTITUTIONAL RIGHTS by the PSD

WE DEMAND OVERSIGHT OF THE PSD, through the passing of the Assembly Bill A00956.

WE DEMAND the removal of the PSD Leadership, Guerra, Bryan and Yee, as well as the REMOVAL of Officer Ralph Torrens, the Officer who brutalized Mr. Jones and who still patrols our children today.
We have put together a powerful and inspiring program. You will hear firsthand accounts, from our friends and neighbors, of the injustices done to them, and you will feel their courage, which has inspired us to bring this action in protest, today.

Let me say at the outset this is a peaceful and legal protest. We have organized our own security made up of community volunteers. We want everyone here to freely express your determination, your love for our youth, our sisters and brothers who have come forward to testify, and, yes, even your ANGER at the longstanding pattern of abuse and injustice we are going to expose and highlight today.... but keep it peaceful. Keep it respectful and dignified in the spirit of our witnesses. Our security -- which is wearing name tags -- will tolerate no illegalities and no disruption. If that is your purpose or intention, then please leave our gathering now.

Thank you so much for coming.
Ms Nahem was followed by Roosevelt Island teenagers and young adults who allege they were victims of Public Safety Department brutality.



Michael Lamanosoff, the attorney for Anthony Jones and his mother Monica Vega, spoke next. Mr. Lamonsoff reported that as of yesterday, the Anthony Jones incident is being investigated by the Manhattan District Attorney's office and also called for a federal investigation by the US Attorneys office.



Ms Vega then spoke about the incident involving her son Anthony



followed by Adib Mansour and Ike Nahem with their testimony of abusive behavior by Public Safety Officers.



Will have more video from the demonstration soon.

Friday, February 15, 2013

No Manhattan Bound F Train Service From Roosevelt Island This Weekend - Resident Expresses Frustration

No Weekend F Train To Manhattan Sign Posted At Roosevelt Island Subway Station Today

According to the MTA:
F Coney Island-bound trains run via the M  from Roosevelt Av to 47-50 Sts Weekend & Holiday, 11:15 PM Fri to 5 AM Tue, Feb 15 - 19

No Coney Island-bound F service at 21 St-Queensbridge, Roosevelt Island, Lexington Av/63 St and 57 St.

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

For service from 21 St-Queensbridge and Roosevelt Island, take the F to Roosevelt Av and transfer to a Coney Island-bound F.
A Roosevelt Island Rivercross building resident is very frustrated by the frequent F train service disruptions and lack of transportation options for Roosevelt Island residents and writes today:
I have been an Island resident for the past decade. Thank you for providing this resource. My household gets up before 4am to get ready for work in Downtown at 6am. This applies to weekdays and weekends.

When there is no Manhattan bound "F" train at all before 5am there is no "good" way to get off the Island. The tram operations may or may not be extended. Recently during the regular work week there was no Manhattan bound F from 11:45PM UNTIL 5AM MON-FRI. As per the notice posted in public safety, the Tram was supposed to operate until 5am but it did not. We got there to catch the 4:45am but it was closed. This 3 day weekend there is no service at all Manhattan bound.

The MTA solution is absurd.... take the Queens bound F to Jackson Heights, crossover to the Manhattan bound side. This maneuver takes an additional 15 minutes in each direction. Then you have to add in the time for waiting as the lead time between overnight trains is 20 minutes. It literally takes 2 hours to complete a trip that normally takes 45 minutes.

Then there is the Q102 which begins service at 5AM but it is too unreliable to take seriously. Over the past several weeks, I have e-mailed RIOC's Donald Lewis, Cy Opperman , Community Relations Erica Spencer-El and most local politicians.Not even a peep or acknowledgment. I do know they were received because a friend got it.

The real issue will be going forward......the lack of subway service will only get worse, for years. They have now begun working on the Second Ave Subway connection at the F- Lexington Ave Station. The 2nd Ave Subway platforms have been there since they built the 63rd Street tunnel and now they have to link the tracks---2 years?

Any suggestions would be appreciated!

Roosevelt Island Community Demonstration To Demand An Accountable Public Safety Department 12 PM Saturday February 16 At Good Shepherd Plaza

Following brutality allegations brought against the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department, the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) unanimously voted to support  a community demonstration to "address Public Safety Concerns". The demonstration will take place at noon tomorrow in the Good Shepherd Plaza. Organizers of the demonstration have distributed this two sided flyer below.

Side 1

and side 2.
Roosevelt Island in Manhattan, New York City is a close-knit, diverse community of working- class and middle class peoples of many nationalities and backgrounds. Our community brings together young people with families, the disabled and physically challenged, seniors living proudly independent lives, and working people and professionals from all over the world.

Our island has always enjoyed a peaceful environment, however criminal behavior and violent assault has ironically become centered on the very entity that is supposed to shield us against it: the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department (PSD).

The brutal treatment and life-altering injuries suffered by Island resident Anthony Jones on January 13, 2012, while being detained on “trespassing” charges by the PSD, has propelled onto the public arena the long-standing and overwhelmingly clear pattern of harassment, physical violence and abuse, petty charges almost always dismissed in court, cover-ups, and lies by Public Safety Officers and their leadership OVER MANY YEARS. The case of Anthony Jones and the vigorous pursuit of justice for him by his mother, backed by the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Public Safety Committee and RIRA as a whole, has, finally, created the atmosphere and conditions whereby other Island residents are coming out with their accounts of PSD abuse and violence. Such mounting accounts, on top of many other long-standing documented cases — which are highlighted below — show clearly and with undeniable credibility that we are not dealing with isolated “exceptions” or a few “rotten apples.”

Rather we are confronting a systemic and structural prob- lem. Which means fundamentally a problem of LEADERSHIP AT THE TOP. That is why our first demand, and the precon- dition for any “reforms” in the training and methods of PSD personnel, must be the IMMEDIATE REMOVAL of Chief Keith Guerra and Deputy Chief Rene Bryan from their posts. We demand that their employer, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation of the State of New York (RIOC) act on this without delay.

Below are just a few of the most egregious cases involving PSD unwarranted and unreasonable aggression and misconduct.

We emphasize that as parents and residents that we do not want to live in the atmosphere of a “security zone” or a state-of-affairs where our constitutional and personal rights to walk, talk, and “hang out,” including our places of residence, are treated as crimes by a mentality that views working people and youth as would-be criminals as opposed to what we are: CITIZENS WITH RIGHTS. Given the clear pattern of abuse, we call for a Federal investiga- tion of the practices of PSD which violate Constitutional protections. We also want to see the passage of New York State Assembly Bill A00956 that mandates a civilian review process for police authorities in New York State. A00956 is sponsored by Assembly Member Micah Kellner, whose constituency includes Roosevelt Island.

The case of Anthony Jones is by no means unique or isolated. But it is the straw that is breaking the camels back. In the Main Street Wire, on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ RICitizensBlotter), and the Roosevelt Island Blogger (http://rooseveltislander.blogspot.com) you can read about the outrageous cases of Mimi Ferdinand, Adib Mansour, Neal Stueber, Elaine Jackson, and Monica Vega (to name a few).

We ask you to join us in a peaceful, legal protest demon- stration this Saturday, February 16th, at 12 Noon on Good Shepard Plaza (543 Main Street). Make your voice heard loud and clear:

STOP PUBLIC SAFETY HARASSMENT AND BRUTALITY! DEFEND YOUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS! REMOVE THE GUERRA-BRYAN REGIME! JUSTICE FOR OUR NEIGHBORS!
JUSTICE FOR ANTHONY JONES!
Earlier today, Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Safety Department Director Keith Guerra sent the following message to the community:
I am aware of the community unrest regarding an incident which recently occurred on the island. While I am not at liberty to discuss the details of the particular case, due to pending litigation, I do want you to know that I am listening to you, and I want to reassure you that this office does not tolerate excessive use of force nor constitutional rights violations that put members of the public at risk.

The mission of the Public Safety Department is to reduce crime and fear, promote public safety and improve the quality of life for all those who live, work or visit this wonderful island. Sometimes that vision involves finding the median between serving those who call upon us, and the enforcement on those we encounter from those calls for service. Over the last 5 years, we have been able to decrease crime on the island without a "Zero Tolerance" or "Maximum Enforcement" initiative, as some have purported. This decrease has been confirmed by the Commanding Officer of the 114th Pct., who particularly noted that Index Crimes on Roosevelt Island were down by 7 from the prior year. Please note that this is extremely challenging in an already low crime area. Our Community Outreach initiatives of various informational Summits and Safety Days have enabled us to provide added services. Our Community Basketball Games and the Young Adult Program at Sportspark have provided a better connection between our agency and the young adults in the neighborhood. Additionally, we have been able to have approximately 900 Bicycle helmets and 10 Car Seats donated to the community to provide safety for not only the children but for all residents on the island. I realize that there is still more work to be done.

One of the community’s concerns is the establishment of a Civilian Complaint Review Board. The current procedure has been in place long before I arrived. I am willing to work with you and the RIOC Board concerning this. Assemblyman Micah Kellner and I have spoken in the past about his proposed legislation and I have never been opposed to his suggestion. In fact, I welcomed it. Although this will not be an easy process, I believe that if we work together on this issue, we can make a difference.

As for the particular case in question, all I can do is ask for your patience in allowing the due process to take its course. Please reserve your final judgment until that time. I have, in the past, and will continue to work with the community to form a better understanding and working relationship between PSD and the community it serves.

Keith Guerra, Director

Roosevelt Island

Public Safety Department
One of the speakers at the demonstration tomorrow, attorney Michael S. Lamonsoff, is currently representing Mr. Jones in a pending brutality case brought against the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department.

Roosevelt Island Public Safety Director Keith Guerra Aware Of Public Unrest From Brutality Allegations - Says No Maximum Enforcement Policy And Welcomes Civilian Complaint Review Board

Following brutality allegations brought against the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department, the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) unanimously voted to support  a community demonstration to "address Public Safety Concerns". The rally will take place at noon tomorrow in the Good Shepherd Plaza (flyer for event is below).

Today, Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Safety Department Director Keith Guerra


sends the following message to the Roosevelt Island community.
I am aware of the community unrest regarding an incident which recently occurred on the island. While I am not at liberty to discuss the details of the particular case, due to pending litigation, I do want you to know that I am listening to you, and I want to reassure you that this office does not tolerate excessive use of force nor constitutional rights violations that put members of the public at risk.

The mission of the Public Safety Department is to reduce crime and fear, promote public safety and improve the quality of life for all those who live, work or visit this wonderful island. Sometimes that vision involves finding the median between serving those who call upon us, and the enforcement on those we encounter from those calls for service. Over the last 5 years, we have been able to decrease crime on the island without a "Zero Tolerance" or "Maximum Enforcement" initiative, as some have purported. This decrease has been confirmed by the Commanding Officer of the 114th Pct., who particularly noted that Index Crimes on Roosevelt Island were down by 7 from the prior year. Please note that this is extremely challenging in an already low crime area. Our Community Outreach initiatives of various informational Summits and Safety Days have enabled us to provide added services. Our Community Basketball Games and the Young Adult Program at Sportspark have provided a better connection between our agency and the young adults in the neighborhood. Additionally, we have been able to have approximately 900 Bicycle helmets and 10 Car Seats donated to the community to provide safety for not only the children but for all residents on the island. I realize that there is still more work to be done.

One of the community’s concerns is the establishment of a Civilian Complaint Review Board. The current procedure has been in place long before I arrived. I am willing to work with you and the RIOC Board concerning this. Assemblyman Micah Kellner and I have spoken in the past about his proposed legislation and I have never been opposed to his suggestion. In fact, I welcomed it. Although this will not be an easy process, I believe that if we work together on this issue, we can make a difference.

As for the particular case in question, all I can do is ask for your patience in allowing the due process to take its course. Please reserve your final judgment until that time. I have, in the past, and will continue to work with the community to form a better understanding and working relationship between PSD and the community it serves.

Keith Guerra, Director

Roosevelt Island

Public Safety Department
Here's the flyer for Roosevelt Island community rally seeking  "An Accountable Public Safety Department"

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pea Pod By Stop & Shop Online Grocery Now Delivering To Roosevelt Island - Have You Tried Them Yet?

A new online grocery delivery option for Roosevelt Island is now available. Peapod by Stop & Shop is now serving Roosevelt Island. Last Tuesday I noticed this Peapod truck in Southtown and was told they have several Roosevelt Island customers.


If you order today, you get free delivery for 60 days.

Has anyone tried it yet? Are they competition for Gristedes, Fresh Direct, Whole Foods, Food Emporium, Costco, Trade Fair or any of the other Roosevelt Island grocery options?

RIOC Directors Discuss Improving Baby Stroller Access To Roosevelt Island Tram Station - Will Ask MTA For Help And Instruct Public Safety Officers To Provide Assistance

Reported previously on Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Common Council Member and Mom Eva Bosbach's efforts to make it easier for parents with strollers


 to enter the Roosevelt Island Tram Station. According to Ms. Bosbach:
...Since the large reconstruction of the Tram, I keep receiving complaints from parents with strollers about the Tram access specifically for this group of residents. Because the strollers do not fit through the regular turnstiles and there is no other possibility to swipe the card and pre-board for the Tram, parents with strollers have to wait until someone from the Tram personnel comes to open the gate for them. All other residents and passengers who pay can go through and pre-load. This situation is unfair, affects timing (sometimes a parent misses the Tram even though she or he was the first one at the station but had to wait for someone to open the gate and in the mean-time everybody else pre-loaded and filled the Tram once it came so that there was no space left for the parent with stroller). But more importantly, it also affects the health of the residents and their babies, as for example new moms who just gave birth or newborns in strollers have to wait in the cold in front of the gate and cannot get to the heaters.

Ideas for a solution include:

- add heaters and a bench outside (area where a weather-protected waiting room existed in the past)

- provide the gate with a buzzer and a camera, so that the personnel upstairs controlling the system can see who wants to use the gate and can buzz the parent with the stroller through

- assign a staff person to be on site permanently to open the gate (like on the Manhattan side of the Tram), at least during rush hours

- work with Public safety on making it a part of the job description of the PS person in the booth to open the door if there is a parent with stroller waiting (since they sit there anyway and 8 of 10 of the PS officers are helpful and open the gate, but some do not, so obviously they currently don't have to)

- install a special circulating door (like in zoos) which can be used for a stroller - has enough room to turn a stroller plus a person through to the other side after you swiped your Metro Card - since the Tram will be shut down during non-rush hours in the following weeks anyway, perhaps this could be added to the planned renovations of the station

- work with MTA on a special Metrocard for parents with strollers, similar to the one for wheel chair users, which can open the gate automatically after the card has been swiped

- work with MTA on an receipt issuing machine for the gate which could be used if a person does not fit through the regular door and needs to use the gate - similar like for a Manhattan express bus, the machine would handle out a receipt and open the gate for the person to access the waiting area, but only after payment took place plus the receipt would provide a proof of payment.

This issue is an ongoing source of complaints in the large community of parents on Roosevelt Island....

On behalf of all parents, especially the ones with young babies, I ask you to act toward a solution of this issue as soon as possible, as the progressing winter continues and worsens the problem....
Some residents do not think parents with strollers should be offered added assistance. According to this comment from previous post:
Give me a break. Here we go with the stroller mafia, angling to take over yet another crowded conveyance.

Open strollers have no place on public transit, particularly at peak times.

During rush hours and subway outages, when the crowd waiting to "pre-board" is dense, a considerate parent should choose an alternate means to carry their child on the tram, one that doesn't take up as much space as an open stroller.

Outside of rush hours and subway outages, the "pre-board" crowd is not likely to be dense enough to cause a parent to be left behind, and we all have the luxury of minimizing our wait by timing our arrival at the station to coincide with the tram schedule....
The issue was discussed at the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors Operations committee meeting yesterday (audio webcast of entire meeting is here). The RIOC Directors were told by RIOC Director of Engineering Alex Snedkov that any change to the Tram Station Access Gate such as
  • a buzzer for worker above to allow parent with stroller to enter through the gate after paying at turnstile or 
  • a special card for parents with strollers
 would have to receive the permission of the MTA.

RIOC Director Michael Shinozaki asked Mr. Snedkow to contact the MTA and try to work out a solution. Mr. Shinozaki also said that all Public Safety Officers should be instructed to assist parents, when feasible, with opening the Tram Station Entrance Gate door when the Public Safety Officer is stationed in the area.

Here's video of the discussion.



UPDATE 4/28 - Ms. Bosbach shares this message she sent to RIOC:
To RIOC:
A few months ago on behalf of the Roosevelt Island Parents Network and the RIRA Island Services Committee I brought up the problem of the access to the Tram boarding area for parents with strollers, which also affects people in wheelchairs and bikers.

Parents with strollers have to wait until someone from the Tram personnel, usually the Tram conductor, comes to open the gate for them. While the cabins are not in the station, all other passengers can go through the turnstiles and pre-load. Especially during long winter months like this year, this can affect the health of the residents and their babies. For example, mothers who just gave birth and their newborns have to wait in the cold in front of the gate and cannot get to the heaters of the pre-boarding area. But even in warmer times, the current situation is unfair and affects timing: Especially in rush hour a parent or another care-giver can miss the Tram even though she or he was the first one at the station – but had to wait for the gate to be opened while everybody else pre-loaded – causing the parent to be late for work or another appointment.

We suggested a number of solutions to RIOC and we are very pleased to have received a positive progress report last week by RIOCʼs Community Relations Specialist Erica Spencer-El. As a short-term solution, an additional staffer has been assigned who should now assist with opening the gate during rush hours. Unfortunately there is still feed-back from parents that this is not always the case. In the long run the plan is to hire an extra person designated to opening the gate and supervising the whole area permanently. We hope this can happen as soon as possible. On behalf of the many parents who live on Roosevelt Island or visit it, as well as the wheelchair- users and bikers we would like to thank RIOC for the progress already made and for further acting on this issue!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Temporary Locations For River Road Bus Stops Continue Due To Manhattan Park Facade Repair And Elevator Modernization

Image of 40 River Road Manhattan Park Bus Stop

Manhattan Park management sent the following message to residents today regarding the ongoing temporary bus stops on River Road:

Roosevelt Island Signage, Fall For Arts Motorgate Installation, Staff Replacements, East Side Access Project & More On RIOC Operations Committee Public Agenda Today - Pending Litigation Item In Executive Session

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Operations Committee will be meeting later today. Here's the Agenda:

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a meeting of the Operations Advisory Committee of the RIOC Board of Directors will be held on Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 5:30 p.m. at the RIOC administrative office, 591 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, New York.

Agenda:

1. Discussion of Information Technology Department Functions
2. Discussion of Four Freedoms Park Way-Finding Signage
3. Discussion of Octagon Development Signage
4. Discussion of East Side Access Project
5. Discussion of Fall for Arts Installations at Motorgate
6. Discussion of Revised Financial Analysis of the Streetline Smart Parking Contract
7. Discussion of Disaster Recovery Contract with Continuity Centers Inc.
8. Discussion of 504 Window Replacement Contract
9. Discussion of Proceeding with Staff Replacements
10. Chair's Motion for Executive Session for an Update on Pending Litigation
11. Any Other Committee Business That May be Brought Before the Committee

***
Please note that the Operations Advisory Committee intends to schedule a separate meeting to discuss matters related to the Public Safety Department.
RIOC will provide an audio web cast of the meeting soon thereafter.

Update 2/14- here's the meeting audio web cast.

RIOC To Issue RFP For Independent Audit of Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department Practices In Wake Of Brutality Allegations



Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Common Council Member Mark Lyon reports:

On 2/11, in a short 30 minute meeting, the Audit Committee met and instructed the corporation to issue an RFP for an internal audit of the Public Safety Department.
During yesterday's Audit Committee Meeting, RIOC Director Margie Smith reported a past conversation several years ago with a New York City Hall official who upon learning about the structure of the RIOC Public Safety Department remarked:
... That's crazy, they should be under the NYPD...
Ms. Smith explained that a meeting was subsequently arranged between the City Hall Official, herself and a NYPD representative to see if NYPD would review the structure and operation of the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department but the answer that came back from NYPD was: 
... we can't do anything for you ... we don't have resources, time or inclination...
RIOC Director Howard Polivy added that the Manhattan District Attorney's office could not provide any oversight either.

The RIOC Public Safety Department audit is in addition to current investigations being conducted by the NY State Inspector General's Office and NY State Attorney General's Office into brutality allegations brought against RIOC's Public Safety Department.

The internal RIOC audit would be conducted by an independent outside vendor selected from those responding to a Request for Proposals. According to Mr. Polivy, the Public Safety Auditor would assist in refining the mission of the Public Safety Department and its capability of carrying out the mission in a:
... way the Corporation is well served and the public is well served....
RIOC Director David Kraut asked for a:
... standard under which Public Safety can be judged...
Ms. Smith reported that she was told by Public Safety Director Keith Guerra that civilian complaints are much lower on Roosevelt Island than elsewhere in NYC though Ms. Smith noted that might be because people are reluctant to make complaints:
... because they don't know who to go to to complain...
and Ms. Smith said she was surprised that more people were not stopping her on the street to talk about this issue as they would for other issues such as moving a Red Bus stop.

Here the audio web cast of the 2/11 Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Audit Committee meeting.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Send A Get Well Card To Injured Roosevelt Island Tram Worker

Image From NBC New York

Reported last Tuesday:
a tram worker got his foot stuck on top of the Tram Cabin. He was rescued by NYPD and FDNY.


View more videos at: http://nbcnewyork.com.

Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Social & Cultural Committee Chair Lynn Strong-Shinozaki would like to show the tram worker that residents are appreciative of his work by sending him a Get Well Card. Ms. Shinozaki writes:
Anyone who would like to send a card to the tram driver Richard Nieves can drop it off to me at 30 RR through this coming weekend and we will make sure the cards get to him(hope we can take a bunch)
Will you help?

NIghttime View Of Purple Empire State Building And Queensboro Bridge East River Waterfront As Seen From Roosevelt Island Last Night

Roosevelt Island resident Juliana Mendes Braga-Babinsky shares these photos taken last night of the Empire State Building behind the Queensboro Bridge as seen from Roosevelt Island


Images From Juliana Mendes Braga-Babinsky

and comments:
Night, night. Empire State Building alllllll they way in the back lit in Purple & Yellow - In honor of the Westminster Kennel Club. Who would have imagined ..
Great pictures.

Assembly Member Micah Kellner Endorsed By Roosevelt Island's Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and City Council Member Jessica Lappin In 2013 Race For NYC Council District 5 Seat In Manhattan

Roosevelt Island's Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and NYC Council Member Jessica Lappin threw their support to Roosevelt Island Assembly Member Micah Kellner in the 2013 Democratic Party Primary election to succeed Ms Lappin as NYC Council Member for Manhattan's 5th City Council District which includes Roosevelt Island.

Ms. Maloney (at microphone) with Mr. Kellner and Ms Lappin (far right) during August 2011 Protest of possible RI Post Office Closing

According to this press release received yesterday from the Micah Kellner Democrat for City Council Campaign:
Today, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney and Council Member Jessica Lappin threw their support behind Democratic State Assembly Member Micah Kellner in the race for the 5th City Council District seat in Manhattan. These are the first endorsements by elected officials in the race to succeed Council Member Jessica Lappin, who is running for Manhattan Borough President.

Congresswoman Maloney said, “Micah Kellner is an independent voice who has fought for our community and gotten results. Whether it is helping our 9/11 first-responders receive the health care coverage they deserve, working with parents to create three new elementary schools to help relieve overcrowding in our classrooms, or pressuring the MTA to implement more stringent air quality regulations during the construction of the 2nd Avenue subway, Micah makes a difference when it matters most. He has the dedication to public service that our community and our city deserve. I’m proud to endorse him.”

City Council Member Jessica Lappin said, “I wholeheartedly endorse Micah Kellner for City Council. I have been honored to represent the 5th District for the last seven years and know he will make an outstanding Council Member for our community. Micah is an independent and thoughtful leader. One example of his success was passing a landmark law to protect New Yorkers with chronic and life-threatening diseases from prescription drug price gouging at the hands of insurance companies. His experience, creativity and accomplishments give Micah the best qualifications to be our next City Council Member. I look forward to voting for him and will be proud to call him my Council Member.”

Assembly Member Kellner said, “I’m proud to have the support of Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Council Member Jessica Lappin. I’m excited to have the opportunity to serve in the City Council and continue working alongside these two dynamic and effective leaders on behalf of our community. ”

Maloney and Lappin are the first elected officials to endorse in this race, adding their names to Kellner’s list of early supporters, which also includes the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1500. The 5th Council District covers Sutton Place, Yorkville, the Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island and parts of El Barrio.

Since 2007, Micah Kellner has represented the Upper East Side, Yorkville and Roosevelt Island in the New York State Assembly. He chairs the Assembly Committee on Libraries and Education Technology, and serves on the Committees on Banks; Cities; Consumer Affairs and Protection; and Racing and Wagering. During his tenure in office, Micah has received numerous awards for his vocal advocacy on behalf of the disabled, his work on children’s issues, LGBT equality and animal rights. A graduate of New York University, Micah lives in Yorkville with his wife Marie and their two rescue dogs, Harvey and Betty White.
Also running for the Democratic Primary nomination for the 5th District are Ben Kallos and Hill Krishnan.

As reported previously, Mr. Kellner and Ms. Maloney earlier endorsed Ms. Lappin in her race for Manhattan Borough President.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Roosevelt Island Business Networking Group Meeting Tomorrow Morning 7:30 AM At Riverwalk Bar- Come Meet Fellow Entrepreneurs And Learn Effective Voice Mail Messaging

The Roosevelt Island Business Networking Group (RIBN) is meeting tomorrow morning, Tuesday February 12, 7:30 AM at the Riverwalk Bar & Grill (425 Main Street).  According to RIBN:

Your Voice Mail and Leaving Voice Messages: Next R I Business Networking Group 2/12 and 2/26

Does your recorded voice mail message truly welcome callers?

Do you leave clear, succinct and compelling voice messages that prompt others to get back to you promptly?

Pointers on the basics that can help you improve your voice message success rate will be emailed to you so you can practice before our next meetings.

Tuesday 2/12 at 7:30 am at Riverwalk Bar & Grill

Tuesday 2/26 at 7:00 pm at meeting room, 546 Main Street.
Additional information on the Roosevelt Island Business Networking Group at Linked In and previous presentations from RIBN members at this posts.

Here are some suggestions on leaving effective voice mail messages



and a voice mail greeting from George Costanza.

The Uppity Women Of Downtown NYC Lecture on Roosevelt Island - February 12, 6:30 PM At The Public Library


According to the Roosevelt Island Public Library and Roosevelt Island Historical Society:
As New York grew in the 19th century, its reputation as sin city ballooned almost as fast as women’s skirts. Just living in such a volatile place could endanger a woman’s most precious possession: her reputation. Today, the search for women who tested boundaries and redefined roles turns up a passel of uppity gals whose bonnets and ribbons cannot hide their bold spirits.

Historian Kathleen Hulser will describe some fascinating personalities in a lecture on The Uppity Women of Downtown New York, sponsored by the Roosevelt Island Historical Society, at the New York Public Library Branch on Roosevelt Island, on Tuesday, February 12, at 6:30 p.m.

Some highlights will include the Beautiful Cigar Girl, Mary Rogers, whose story inspired Edgar Allan Poe’s first foray into the detective genre, and whose tale links her to Madame Restell, who spent time in the prison on Blackwell’s Island.

Also featured are mid-century rule-breakers, like spiritualist and stock-broker Victoria Woodhull and bridge-builder Emily Roebling. Entering the 20th century, at the moment corsets loosen, both Emma Goldman and Nellie Bly defy social conventions and grab headlines, as well as spending time on the island. Later, a very good girl, Eleanor Roosevelt, who in both her early days as part of a network of progressive women and her later years as United Nations activist, embodies how women can do anything they set their minds to. Pictures of gals in motion amply demonstrate that hoops and yards of petticoats can’t keep a good woman down.

The event is FREE and open to the public.

Report From Acting RIOC President Don Lewis - Roosevelt Island Tram Ridership Statistics At Record High Numbers, Outdoor Movie Selections & More


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Acting President Don Lewis sends the following report to Roosevelt Island residents.
I encourage you to review the January edition of RIOC’s newsletter Island News, available at rioc.ny.gov/pdf/IslandNewsJan13.pdf. The newsletter includes a profile of RIOC’s Transportation General Manager Cy Opperman, a look at the eventful first few months of Four Freedoms Park, as well as updates on RIOC’s latest construction and maintenance projects.

Tram Thrives with Record Ridership Numbers in 2012

Last year marked the second full year since our Tramway Modernization project was completed. For the second consecutive year, a record number of people rode the state-of-the-art Tram.  The total ridership for 2012 was 2,358,818, nearly a quarter of a million more riders than in 2011 and an average of more than 6,400 riders per day.

The Tram is not only an iconic symbol on the New York City skyline, it is an inspiration for leaders from around the world looking to bring similar innovative technology to their communities. Just this past week we proudly hosted a visitor from the Haitian Embassy who was interested in exploring the Tram.

As you likely know, earlier this week a Tram worker from Leitner-Poma of America injured his leg while performing routine inspection and maintenance. We are happy to report that we understand the injuries sustained were relatively minor.  We would like to thank all of those involved for handling the situation in commendable fashion.  We note that the inspection work was part of the diligent efforts of Leitner-POMA and RIOC to ensure that the Tram is always running safely and smoothly. Regular inspections and maintenance work are conducted on every inch of the system, including the wires, cars and the connections at the towers.

Planning Commission Hearing on Cornell Campus

The New York City Planning Commission and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development held a public hearing this past Wednesday addressing the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the future Cornell NYC Tech campus. RIOC representatives attended the meeting to remain cognizant of the community’s perspectives on the various aspects of the project.  Unfortunately, we cannot report on the hearing here due to the deadline for this column.

Submit Your Suggestions for Summer Outdoor Movie Series

RIOC’s Summer Outdoor Movie Series is one of the most anticipated traditions on Roosevelt Island. This summer will mark the Series’ fifth year and we’re giving Roosevelt Island residents the opportunity to submit suggestions for movies. I encourage you to send an email to SMS2013.Main591.RIOC@rioc.ny.gov with your favorite movie from each of the following genre categories: action/adventure, comedy, family/kids, fantasy, science-fiction, and drama. Alternatively, you can post your selections to the RIOC Facebook page at www.facebook.com/RIOCNY. The deadline for submissions is Friday, March 1. Thank you to everyone who has already shared your favorite flicks!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

RIRA Calls For Removal Of Top Management At Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department And Plans February 16 Public Demonstration Against Brutality - Requests Governor Cuomo Investigate And Provide Oversight For Public Safety Department

Roosevelt Island policing and Public Safety issues were the subject of February 6 Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Common Council meeting. As previously reported, RIRA's Public Session portion of the meeting included a presentation by NYPD 114 Precinct (which covers Roosevelt Island) Commander Deputy Inspector Stephen Cirabisi, a RIRA commendation award for NYPD Officer Dino Sitaris and a report from Manhattan District Attorney Community Affairs Officer Linda Janneh-Jones on the Trespass Affidavit Program as well as questions from residents. Here's video of that portion of the RIRA meeting.

Following the Public Session, the RIRA Common Council unanimously approved resolutions calling for the removal of top management at the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Safety Department and and a February 16 public demonstration to address Public Safety Concerns.

Here are the resolutions:

Resolution:

Whereas, the residents of RI feel that PSD uses excessive force.

- Whereas, the residents disagree with the "maximum enforcement" and "zero tolerance" policies used under Director Guerra and his leadership.

- Whereas the residents feel that a hostile, abusive, and intimidating atmosphere is created by the Public Safety Department, as directed by its leadership.

- Whereas, the RIRA Public Safety Committee has expressed these concerns and made suggestions for reform for many years

- Whereas there has been virtually no improvement in Public Safety's behavior or its relationship to the community.

- Whereas Director Guerra does not objectively review or investigate the complaints made against his officers.

- Whereas the situation has been worsening significantly in the past year

- Therefore, RIRA requests RIOC terminate the services of Director Guerra, Deputy Director Bryan, Lieutenant Yee, and other top PSD leadership as RIOC may deem necessary.
and:
Resolution #2
The Public Safety Committee, forwards to the RIRA Common Council, a request that the RIRA Common Council endorse, sponsor and promotes a peaceful demonstration, scheduled for February 16, 2013, to be held in the Good Shepherd Plaza, to address Public Safety Concerns.
More information on the February 16 Public Safety Demonstration


available at the Roosevelt Island Citizens Blotter Facebook Page.

Also, unanimously approved by the RIRA Common Council were these letters to NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo and NY State Senator Jose Serrano. An excerpt from the introduction of both letters:
As members of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association’s (RIRA) Public Safety Committee it is our responsibility to explore reports and patterns of law enforcement misconduct, when brought to our attention by residents of our community. We consider this the most important aspect of the Committee's mission.

There is widespread awareness by Island residents of inappropriate, aggressive and unacceptable behavior on the part of various officers under the command of the Director of Public Safety Keith Guerra and his predecessors. These repeated occurrences represent a pattern and a culture of abuse and incompetence that is completely intolerable and even illegal. These accounts have accelerated to a point where parents are afraid when their children are outside, because they fear the consequences of their interaction with Public Safety. Teenagers, dentists, pacifists, journalists, and parents at a little league game have witnessed this aggressive behavior....
Here's the full text of RIRA letters to Governor Cuomo and State Senator Serrano and video of the RIRA discussion moderated by RIRA Public Safety Chair Erin Feeley-Nahem.

Part 1



and Part 2 (a few moments between Parts 1 and 2 are missing as I changed cameras when battery power died).



RIOC has provided no statement or comment on these matters. There is litigation pending in the Jones incident.

UPDATE 2/12 - Roosevelt Island's NY State Senator Jose Serrano issued this statement regarding the Jones incident and Roosevelt Island Public Safety issues:
Roosevelt Island residents have approached my office with concerns about an incident allegedly involving Anthony Jones and the actions of the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department. These allegations are troubling, however I believe that the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation acted appropriately in referring the incident to the State Inspector General for thorough review. It is important that the Inspector General be given the opportunity to independently investigate these allegations and make an appropriate determination. As the State Senator representing Roosevelt Island, I will continue to support legislative reforms to ensure there is sufficient oversight of those empowered to protect the public's safety and general welfare. I believe the legislation introduced by Assemblyman Kellner to create a State Civilian Complaint Review Board to investigate any alleged misconduct by state police forces, like Roosevelt Island Public Safety, is an important step towards inspiring public confidence.