Thursday, February 6, 2014

Circus At Roosevelt Island Residents Association Meeting Last Night - Expulsion Motion Fails, Attempt To Kick Out Press Fails, RIRA President And Several Others Resign

An update to last night's Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Common Council meeting

 Image Of February RIRA Common Council Meeting

agenda item on expelling member Frank Farance. As reported following the meeting:
... At almost 11 PM tonight, the RIRA Common Council voted to indefinitely postpone the motion to expel Mr. Farance. The vote effectively puts a stop to this draining and unproductive nonsense. Unfortunately, after the vote, several supporters of the motion to expel Mr. Farance, including RIRA President Polivy, said they are resigning from RIRA.

Prior to the expulsion motion being heard, supporters of the motion attempted to have the discussion conducted in Executive Session, meaning it would be in secret, closed to the public and the press. I strenuously objected to having the public and myself kicked out of the meeting as did many RIRA members. A vote was taken that rejected the motion to go into executive session.

The Circus was certainly here on Roosevelt Island tonight...
Here's what happened.

RIRA President Ellen Polivy and Secretary Joyce Short attempted to have the expulsion discussion of Mr. Farance held in Executive Session without a vote of the Common Council. They went as far as to instruct a Public Safety Officer to remove me from the room. However, the majority of RIRA voted to reject having the discussion in secret and I was allowed to remain.

A motion was then made to indefinitely postpone the motion to expel Mr. Farance

which was approved

by the majority of the Common Council.

Following the vote, Ms. Polivy gave her President's report announcing her resignation from RIRA.

and several other RIRA members resigned as well.

Ms. Polivy sent this statement today:
This past month I had a death in the family. My mother was 90 years old. Her funeral lasted over an hour and a half because so many people wanted to speak. It could have gone on far longer but we had to leave the room. I was struck with how many people had been personally and privately touched so deeply by her caring. Each speaker had a different story but common theme. They each felt acknowledged, special and unique because of years of interactions. This is an impact of a life well lived whether by a 90 year old frail woman or a 20 year old young man who freely gave out hugs and a listening ear. Most of us thrive on this kind of humanity.

I want to publicly thank all the people who supported my family and me during the last few weeks. We really appreciated all the love and attention. This is what makes a wonderful community.

For a year and 4 months I have given my all to this community as the President of RIRA. With the help of many on the Council, I have tried to set up the conditions that encourage love and support of the people around us, experiences that makes for a happy living environment. I have forged good working relationships with RIOC and the board and have been able to quietly and without fanfare get things done.

For personal reasons, my available time just got tighter. Regrettably, I am unable to continue in my present role as RIRA President. I am therefore resigning immediately.

I thank you for giving me opportunity to serve the community as RIRA President. I plan to continue my other work in the community. I thank my fellow RIRA members for their commitment and hard work and I will do whatever I can to help in the future.

Respectfully, Ellen Polivy
Mr. Farance sent this statement today:
Last night's outcome was a victory in the ongoing battle for openness, fairness, transparency, and the whole community's interests ... versus the closed, secretive, and unfair tactics advocated by an inner circle. Even to the very end Ms. Polivy was disingenuously asking for Executive Session purportedly for the purpose "we don't want to do to Frank in public what he has done to us".

Ms. Polivy has used her RIRA Column to advocate in public against me, so this was yet another ruse for tactics that they were attempting outside scrutiny of the press and public.

As for the Cherry Blossom Festival and its finances, this could have all be solved had Ms. Strong-Shinozaki and the RIRA SCE committee answered questions forthcomingly and honestly, but it became a cat-and-mouse game of hunting for facts. Even with RIRA Auditor Geof Kerr's interim report, it's clear the original SCE report that caused the hullabaloo is now discredited and was worthy of questioning -- as I did at the time.

Ms. Short and Ms. Strong-Shinozaki complain of "cyberbullying" (which just means someone disagrees with them), but meanwhile Ms. Polivy is threatening to Ruin On This Island member Susan Marcus because she voted opposite Ms. Polivy's liking.

And speaking of double standards, the Ethics Committee was completely reformulated because, as Sharon Pope reported, its original incarnation, with secret meetings done in Executive Session by improperly appointed members, was created to target one or two members of RIRA (me and possibly someone else). Hopefully, RIRA can look forward to getting back to the real business of addressing the needs of the residents.
It's very sad that RIRA has imploded from within because of the inability of some members to work out their differences in a civil, respectful and professional manner.