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Thursday, January 25, 2018

RIOC Board Adjourns And Postpones Vote On Selecting Roosevelt Island Youth Center Operator Tonight- We Have A Serious Community Problem

After a long public session in which supporters and opponents of the Roosevelt Island Youth Program (RIYP) receiving contract to operate the Roosevelt Island Youth Center spoke,

the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors

decided to punt, adjourning the Agenda Item and not voting on the subject. Of those that spoke during the Public Session, by my count, 12 speakers were in favor of the RIYP being selected to operate the Youth Center and 6 opposed.

Acting RIOC Board Chair Alex Valella, who knows very little, if anything, about the history and background of Roosevelt Island proposed the decision to adjourn the vote on the Youth Center operator.  According to Mr. Velella, sufficient questions were raised and community discord evident, to delay the vote. He was joined by RIOC Director Fay Christian in favoring the adjournment.

RIOC Directors David Kraut, Margie Smith and Howard Polivy appeared ready to vote in favor of the RIYP as Youth Center Operator but the vote did not occur.

Following the adjournment, the majority of attendees were visibly angry and disappointed. Unlike the RIOC staff and Directors, Mr. Valella did not stay to explain his decision in any greater detail.

Here's the discussion of the RIOC Board.

Will update with entire video of speakers at the Public Session.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE 1/26: The Roosevelt Island Daily interviewed RIOC Director David Kraut shortly after the meeting was adjourned. Mr. Kraut was highly critical of the action by Acting Chair Alex Valella saying:
... In my nearly 25 years on this Board of Directors, I have never seen such a high handed tabling or refusal to address a matter. The Board was ready to vote. We heard from a number of people on both sides...

... You can't kick the can down the road just because the Chair is afraid of the noise in the room. There's always noise in the room on Roosevelt Island....

Roosevelt Island Daily also interviewed RIYP Executive Director Charlie Defino who said:
We fairly won in both processes and now they want to table it again because a couple of people are mad. The people that are mad are all linked together...

UPDATE 1/26 Here are the statements made during RIOC Board meeting Public Session.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

UDPATE 1/26 5:35 PM - RIOC issued the following statement minutes ago:
The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation announced plans Friday to hire an outside counsel, Bond Shoeneck & King, to investigate allegations made against the operator of the Roosevelt Island Youth Program that was close to being approved for a three-year grant to operate youth programs at a drop-in child care program that requires no state licensure.

The RIOC Board chairman made the decision to delay the vote after the Board received numerous email claims in the days leading up to Thursday night’s meeting. More than 20 passionate parents, employees and young people spoke at the Thursday night meeting making their cases in favor and against the awarding of this grant.

“Prompted by statements made at last night’s Board meeting and emails received from the public, RIOC is hiring outside counsel to investigate,” said RIOC President Susan Rosenthal. “We expect this to be completed in advance of the next Board meeting March 1.”

The Roosevelt Island Youth Program (RIYP) received the highest score in the grant competition rated by two members of the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) and Island worker Patricia Pell, currently the interim director of Roosevelt Island Day Nursery.
UPDATE 2/1 - According to the Roosevelt Island Youth Program Board of Directors:
Executive Director Charlie DeFino has the full support of the RI Youth Program’s Board of Directors and we are confident that RIOC’s investigation will conclude that the allegations made are without merit.