Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Former RIRA President Polivy Renews Call To Expel Farance From Common Council - Farance Answers RIRA Critics, Accuses Main Street Wire Newspaper Of Biased, Shoddy Reporting And Criticizes RIOC President Indelicato For Procurement Criteria

As previously reported, the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) May 2014 Common Council approved a resolution requesting $10 Thousand:

... in order to continue its work for the Island....
from the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC).

The motion was approved by a vote of 18 in favor 1 against and 2 abstentions. RIRA Common Counsel Member Frank Farance was the lone vote against.

 Image of Frank Farance from March 3 CB 8 MTA Transportation Meeting

The RIOC Operations Advisory Committee met on May 12 and after a presentation by RIRA Vice President Sherrie Helsien, as well as former RIRA President Matt Katz (video of presentation here), approved RIRA's request for $10 thousand. The RIRA $10 Thousand funding allocation was then placed on the May 15 RIOC Board Of Directors Meeting Agenda.

Prior to the RIOC Board meeting, Mr. Farance sent an email to RIOC President Charlene Indelicato and others, including NY State Government officials, describing his objections to the RIRA $10 Thousand allocation. During the RIOC Board meeting, it was announced that the RIRA $10 Thousand allocation item was removed from the Agenda and not voted upon. RIOC did not confirm that the reason the RIRA allocation was taken off  the Agenda was the letter from Mr. Farance.

The May 24 editorial of the Main Street Wire newspaper criticized Mr. Farance for sending the letter to RIOC and NY State Government officials expressing his view opposing the $10 Thousand RIOC allocation to RIRA. According to the Main Street Wire editorial with the headline "More Politics of Destruction":
Frank Farance is at it again – or still.

With his viewpoint rejected by an 18-1 vote at the May meeting of the Residents Association’s Common Council, but in his certainty that he was right and everyone else was wrong, he set out to destroy the good works of others – and apparently succeeded.

But Farance was wrong. Wrong to play the sore loser after the vote, wrong to attack his fellow Common Council members, wrong to broadcast his attack and accusations to State officials, and wrong in his basic assumptions....
... From the vantage point of a longtime observer of Farance, RIOC, and the RIRA Common Council, it now appears that Farance is expecting to leave the Island, and is quite willing to burn bridges and people on his way out the door....
Click here for the full Main Street Wire editorial.

Mr. Farance was also criticized at the June RIRA meeting by former RIRA President Ellen Polivy.  Ms. Polivy, who resigned as RIRA President after failing to expel Mr. Farance from RIRA last February, appeared at the June RIRA Meeting Public Session. Ms. Polivy accused Mr. Farance of continuing to sabotage RIRA and encouraged RIRA members to renew efforts to expel Mr. Farance from RIRA. Ms. Polivy referred to Mr. Farance as the:
Crazy Uncle 
Village idiot.
Here''s Ms. Polivy's full remarks during the June RIRA Public Session.

There was no reaction from the RIRA Common Council following Ms. Polivy's Public Session remarks.

Mr. Farance responds to some of his critics:
Sadly, the WIRE's reporting, editorials, journalistic standards, and ethics reach new lows. "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated", i.e., Roosevelt Island is home for me and I have no plans on leaving. It seems Dick Lutz, lacking valid arguments, short on facts, and without basis, is left with the fabrication that I'm leaving the Island. One might have expected Lutz to do some fact-checking, but that didn't happen.

The WIRE has other problems, too. Did Lutz or Briana Warsing disclose that Sherie Helstien and Matt Katz (who also spoke at the RIOC meeting) are managers at the WIRE? Certainly any credible newspaper would disclose that kind of relationship among its supervisory staff and what is being reported. My sense is that Lutz waves off these complaints with "They're All Volunteers", as he's explained his Letters policy recently. The disclosure is important because we, as readers, can have a better understanding of the perspective (a potentially biased one) in the news being reported -- whether they are volunteers or not is irrelevant to journalistic integrity. Additionally, Ms. Warsing did not disclose that her husband was one of the Common Council members who voted for the faulty RIRA proposal. Again, it is important to disclose this kind of information because readers might be concerned about journalistic conflicts of interest and bias in the WIRE's reporting: favorable and consistent with her husband's position.

While the WIRE reported that I was concerned about a fraudulent RIRA proposal, the WIRE never reported the nature of the fraud -- I'm guessing that many of the WIRE's readers would have arrived at the same concerns, too. Why didn't the WIRE, at least, report what the actual concerns of the proposal? The WIRE's staff never contacted me about my position, and it seems that the WIRE was not interested in the nature of the complaints of fraud. The WIRE seemed more concerned about supporting its tired editorial narrative about Farance, Reid, and Chirivas ... and whitewashing any unpleasant news about Friends/Staff of the WIRE.

However the NYS Attorney General had enough interest in these concerns and has started an investigation with the NYS Inspector General. I look forward to their findings.

Unfortunately, the retaliation has started again in RIRA. RIRA has a new ethics committee, Chaired by Mickey Rindler. Rindler seems more interested in having anonymous RIRA Common Council members slip in last-minute provisions in the RIRA Code Of Ethnics (which will be used to expel people from RIRA at an even quicker pace), and Rindler improperly collected votes outside of the meeting's discussion. What were those last minute provisions? In essence, those anonymous RIRA Common Council members wanted to make sure that anyone reporting RIRA misconduct outside of RIRA can be expelled. Maybe Rindler should focus more upon fixing the ethics problems within RIRA rather than looking for more reasons to expel people who report ethics concerns.

For RIOC President Indelicato, a former Westchester politician, feigns ignorance of State procurement procedures: "It was my fault, the procurement process was not right". Well when you have a 501c4 lobbying organization (RIRA) that is involved in legislation that affects your NYS Public Authority, can Indelicato tell us what the right process is for that lobbying organization to merely say "Services Rendered For Doing Good Stuff In The Past" and get money from the government? It's not just Westchester, or New York State -- I can't think of any place in the US were we'd allow this whimsical Services Rendered as a basis for legitimate government procurement. RIRA Vice President Sherie Helstien is still touting the advantages of this RIOC money: We Can Co-Mingle It With RIRA Funds. Organizations doing legitimate work don't talk this way.

Also, Indelicato is inconsistent with her procurement criteria. She can explain all the procurement hurdles for RIRA's efforts to get Air Quality monitoring for the Island, but for others (the RI Royalty) saying the magic words "Services Rendered" gets money flowing from RIOC. Certainly RIRA's proposal (as presented by another organization) would have never passed muster in its Public Purpose Grant allocations process. I seems that Indelicato, as an executive, favors the Dinosaur Brains approach towards decision-making: it's more important, in a primal way, to sniff out who is Friend and Foe and give money to your Friends, and put up roadblocks for your Foe's legitimate proposals.

Lastly, I'd like to correct the WIRE's perception that I have more power than the Governor. Nope, I don't. But Truth has more power than politicians, and that was one of the founding principles of our country.
Mr. Farance later clarified his comments regarding Mr. Rindler:
Since my letter was circulated within the Common Council, Mickey Rindler has changed his position on accepting "late" votes (he withdrew the late vote). It is exactly this kind of behavior (Mr. Rindler's) that is curbed by transparency, which Mr. Rindler opposes. Still Mr. Rindler persisted in the next Ethnics Committee meeting: he still wanted the provision (making RIRA Common Council members' actions public as a kind of "misconduct") put into the Code Of Ethics, so it would be declared misconduct for expulsion proceedings.

In essence, these rules are used to punish Common Council members who have opinions the majority does not like. If a resident (who is a RIRA member) were to do the same behavior (e.g., report to their neighbors what was heard at a Common Council meeting or RIRA committee meeting), they would not be punished. RIRA's enforcement has been selective and only against certain Common Council members.

And ditto for the Roosevelt Islander Blog: In Matt Katz's term as RIRA President, RIRA approved a policy that the RIRA agenda package could not be published, i.e., we are prohibited from sharing positions and proposed motions to our constituents until AFTER they are voted upon them. Thus, when RIRA is about to do something poor/wrong/bad, we Common Council members can get expelled from letting our neighbors know about it (so they might come to the RIRA Common Council meeting to complain in the public session). Yeah, Matt Katz's not-so-brilliant idea for quashing the minority's opinions, and making much of RIRA secret before decision-making.

Mr. Rindler makes this even worse by suggesting that people should paraphrase what someone is proposing but not reveal to our neighbors what the actual person's position/proposal/statement is. Why? Because, according to Mr. Rindler, it would allow the author of the faulty/problematic position/proposal/statement to deny that he/she said it.

Mr. Rindler has a terrible sense of ethics as it applies to RIRA practices and policies. It requires constant vigilance to keep track of these misguided and damaging ideas. The Ethics Committee, under Mr. Rindler, is not about transparency and fairness, it is about creating a framework for an express path to expulsion for Common Council members who have unpopular opinions.
I asked those mentioned by Mr. Farance if they cared to respond. None did other than Mr. Rindler who replied:
I am honored to be counted among the pantheon of civic leaders that Mr. Farance has attacked for trying their best to serve this community.
Today, Mr. Farance writes to RIOC President Indelicato expressing concern that RIOC may be reducing their financial contribution to Roosevelt Island Day.

RIRA President Jeff Escobar reports that the Common Council is currently on Summer Hiatus.


APS said...

The ALL need to be expelled. We need new leadership!

OldRossie said...

Outsider looking in: Frank sent a letter to the state, and RIOC suddenly withdraws the $10k from RIRA? Doesn't that imply Frank was right? All of the personal hatred aside, it is a shady situation.

NotMyKid said...

Or... Since frank pretty much destroys anything in its path, rioc said, since this guy is making a big stink or anything crazy, let's just forget about this. It's not worth the headache.

OldRossie said...

Reasonable. But I'd think a sensible organization might have identified it as a headache at the outset, and not just in response to a would-be wistleblower. I'm not saying Frank's accusations aren't over the top, but he is right that while he's trying to string facts together, the only response is "this guy is annoying", rather than "the $10k is justified by a b and c".

Jeff P said...

I think it was weak for RIOC to change course. Farance is a blowhard that sees conspiracy and fraud at every turn, and should be ignored by policy makers. I encourage RIOC leadership to focus on doing what they feel is right for the community. Let Farance bluster and threaten. If there is anything to Farance's claims, let the attorney general's office sort it out. It won't be long until they see Farance for the meddling idiot he is.

NotMyKid said...

The problem is with farance is he has destroyed many peoples careers on this island. He is a self centered egomaniac. He wants to be the shining star, at any expense.

No hobbies, too much free time.

I don't blame rioc.

RooseveltIslander said...

I think that is unfair to Frank . He raises many important issues for Roosevelt Island that, without him, would be ignored and not discussed.

Can you give examples of people whose careers on the Island have been destroyed because of him?

OldRossie said...

The dominant problem with Frank is that the focus lands on Frank. Not on the issues he tries to highlight.

YetAnotherRIer said...

The problem with Frank is that his demeanor puts the focus on him and not the issue. He may very well have good points but the way he brings them forward makes the people that should be looking at them turn away from him instead.

He desperately needs to rebrand himself.