Friday, January 3, 2014

Roosevelt Island Residents Association President Seeks To Plug RIRA Leaks To Blog - Some RIRA Members Want Code Of Conduct To Keep Discussions Secret And You In The Dark

Last Monday, reported:
... There have been ongoing union demonstrations protesting use of non-union labor for construction of Hudson Related's Southtown Riverwalk Building 7 recently....
... the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) has invited the Carpenters Union representative, Mr. McWilliams, to speak at the January meeting of the Common Council.  At least one RIRA member has objected to inviting the union representative to the monthly RIRA meeting  but suggested that if the union member is invited, so should a representative from the building contractor/developer....
Apparently, RIRA President Ellen Polivy objected to information about the Union representative being invited to the next RIRA meeting becoming public.

Ms. Polivy wrote to other RIRA Common Council (CC) members
How did information I put on CC talk get onto the blog?

I am getting emails from people who said they saw information about the invite of the labor union coming to our public session on the blog. Who is taking information meant only for discussion on the CC and posting it on the blog?

I want to point out that information on CC talk is only for discussion among CC members. It is private and not meant to be given to outside organizations.

If this continues, then it renders preliminary discussions among council members useless.
Some RIRA members object to having their statements made public to the Roosevelt Island community whether on this blog or the Main Street WIRE newspaper. A RIRA committee is drafting a Code of Ethical Conduct regarding RIRA communications policy. One member of the Committee suggests that RIRA should prohibit certain information discussed by RIRA members from being shared with the public. According to that RIRA member:
RIRA is defined as a membership organization of which the Common Council is a representative body. Our Constitution states:

Section 1, Membership
All individuals who live in residential housing on Roosevelt Island are members of RIRA.

Our Constitution goes on to state that “all meetings of the Common Council shall be open to the public.” Nowhere does it state that all our communications shall be public and in fact the CC has the right to vote to go into executive session that is not shared with the public. Therefore the common council has the right to restrict communications and is not obligated to share all of its communications. Moreover, since we are not a government organization we have the right to prohibit communications to nonresidents, just as individual building Residents Associations do. Since the RI blog and the Wire are open to entire public, including nonresidents, we do have every right to prohibit CC members from publishing CC talk communications in those entities.

Whether “members” of RIRA (i.e., residents) have the right to access all CC communications is a separate issue and something we should seek legal counsel about. However, I note that even the federal government is not required to disclose deliberative process information or presidential communications to the public under the FOIA. In our case, I would argue that deliberative process covers the vast majority of our communications on CC talk, which are discussions of potential legislative or policy initiatives. This information must not be shared with others and indeed to do so is a violation of fiduciary duty to the organization. Those who wish to express their opinions on blogs or in the newspapers at the very least should not include verbatim quotations from CC talk or from private emails/discussions.
Not all RIRA CC members wish to keep their discussions secret. Some RIRA members believe that since they are elected to represent the interests of Roosevelt Island residents, CC members should be free to discuss issues of concern with the public as they see fit.

The next RIRA meeting is 8 PM Wednesday, January 8, at Good Shepherd Community Center. Perhaps this issue will be part of the discussion.


Mark Lyon said...

Instantaneously publishing internal discussion (or, as is sometimes the case, only those parts that serve the publisher's position) harms the ability of a deliberative group to properly develop its ideas or advance its goals. All entities need some time and opportunity to plan and share information internally.

The distribution list from which several recent RIRA communications have been taken is intended as a safe, informal place for all positions on an issue to be shared to better inform the Common Council (there are also other lists for specific committees and an announcement-only list for distributing information). When one must wonder if every single thought will be published - possibly out of context - then it stifles the free exchange that could otherwise take place. Currently, council members can't trust their fellow members to extend any reasonable level of respect or decorum because a small few seem to lack an understanding of how to communicate of work together as a group. Instead, they must constantly be wary of those seeking to tear down anyone who disagrees with their obviously superior position. It stifles discussion and participation; those responsible should be ashamed of themselves (unfortunately, it's clear they are unfamiliar with that emotion).

rilander said...

The statement from the CC member who wrote "This information must not be shared with others and indeed to do so is a violation of fiduciary duty to the organization..." is totally misguided. The fiduciary duty of CC members is first and foremost to the members of the association and that means all residents. Further, any discussions should be documented in the CC minutes, and those minutes should be available to all members. As of today they are not contained on the RIRA website server. I strongly suggest that Common Council members should get a copy of Roberts Rules. RIRA is not your personal fifedom nor is it your sandbox!

Westviewer said...

Oh, but it is.

Ratso123 said...

Much ado about nothing

Bill Blass said...

Oh my god.this is so upsetting. I may not be able to sleep tonite over this matter. What are we to do

Bill Blass said...

This sounds like it will be RooSevelt islands version of Watergate.oh my

Bill Blass said...

Yea this is another water Gate.I think the woman next door to me is deep throat