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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Happy 95th Birthday To Roosevelt Island Resident And Pioneering NYPD Detective Mary Fitzgerald - One Of NYPD"s First Female Detectives

According to the NY Daily News, long time Roosevelt Island resident and former NYPD pioneering Detective Mary Fitzgerald celebrated her 95th birthday yesterday.
The NYPD Twitterverse adds:
The New York Daily News adds:
... “My favorite memory was when President Kennedy asked me who I was,” recalled Fitzgerald, the daughter of Irish immigrants. “He put out his hand and said, ‘And you are?’

“So he got a big surprise when I said, ‘I’m Detective Mary Fitzgerald.’ There was a lot of security, but I was the only woman.”

The nonagenarian smiled at the memory from her long run as one of New York’s Finest. A signed photo of JFK’s wife (“With best wishes, Jacqueline Kennedy”) hangs inside her Roosevelt Island apartment...
Congratulations and Happy Birthday Detective Mary Fitzerald. Thank you for your service.

Check out the Mary Fitzgerald photo gallery from the NY Daily News too.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

NYPD 114 Precinct Cracking Down On Electric Motor Bicycle Food Deliveries To Roosevelt Island And Astoria - Pedal Assist Bikes OK But Not Motorized Only E Bikes

On October 19, 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced:

... the New York City Police Department today announced that the City will take heightened enforcement action against electric bicycles, otherwise known as “e-bikes,” with a particular focus on the hazardous operation of e-bikes and businesses who use them or permit employees to ride them.

“E-bikes are illegal to operate in New York City and the NYPD is stepping up enforcement,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Those at the top of the food chain need to be held accountable. That’s why instead of merely targeting riders, we’re going after businesses that look the other way and leave their workers to shoulder the fine.”

“E-bikes are too often a danger on the City’s streets and sidewalks,” said NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill. “They’re illegal to operate here, but it seems like you can spot them everywhere – and that’s where our increased enforcement comes in. Officers are confiscating e-bikes from riders and issuing summonses that carry a stiff fine, and enforcement is up dramatically this year. Soon businesses will be held accountable too, because most e-bike riders are acting on their employer’s behalf. The NYPD is committed to keeping City streets safe for everyone and e-bike enforcement is an important part of the plan.”...

The issue of restaurants using motorized electric bicycles to make Roosevelt Island food deliveries

was discussed during the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) November 29 Public Safety Committee meeting with Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Safety Department Chief Jack McManus. According to this excerpt from the PSC report:
... The enforcement of traffic regulations for motorized bike was addressed. The Chief is aware of the problem and will be initiating more enforcement of the laws, for deliveries that come onto the Island....
The NYPD 114 precinct, which patrols Roosevelt Island, tweets earlier this week:
But, there's another side to the story. According to Streetsblog:
... For a delivery worker, income is a function of how many deliveries you can make in a day, and delivery zones are expanding as apps like Seamless and GrubHub introduce new incentives for restaurants to cover more turf. Especially for older delivery workers, e-bikes are the only feasible conveyance for daily shifts that routinely clock in at 12 to 16 hours long. On top of it all, many immigrant workers are paying off tens of thousands of dollars in debt to the networks that smuggled them into the country.

“The city has never really talked with delivery workers about their own conditions, and how to design a system around delivery work — about streets, about the commercial cycling ordinances, about e-bike laws,” Lee said. “We’re totally ignoring the people who have the most intimate knowledge of city streets.”

The fine for operating an e-bike on city streets can be as high as $500. That, along with the seizure of property worth several hundred dollars, can upend the life of delivery workers getting by on tips and little else. Even the fines on businesses can trickle down to workers’ pocketbooks....
... A non-punitive approach to the issue might involve encouraging the use of pedal-assist bikes for delivery work, which amplify human power but require the rider to expend some energy. De Blasio said older delivery workers should use those bikes, which are not banned under NYC law, unlike e-bikes that can be powered by just a motor. But instead of talking to delivery workers and trying to reach a solution that fits the demands of the job, the mayor and NYPD have jumped straight to penalizing them....
Here's an interesting video showing the differences between motorized electric bicycles using throttles, which are illegal, and pedal assisted electric bikes which are legal.

Roosevelt Island and Manhattan Upper East Side NYC Council Member Ben Kallos is hosting a forum about the bicycle delivery issue tomorrow.

Roosevelt Island Red Bus Next Bus GPS App Down For A Week Says Resident - RIOC Says It's Working Today

The Next Bus App is a very useful and convenient tool for residents enabling us to know when the Roosevelt Island Red Bus

will arrive at our stop - when it is working.

A reader asked today about the status of the Next Bus Roosevelt Island Red Bus App:
... have you heard anything about the bus app not working again? It’s been about a week of it not working...
Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Information Officer Alonza Robertson has the answer:
Yes, there were some problems with the Next Bus app this week. We did not receive a reason why from the developer which operates the app that displays our buses approximate GPS-tracked locations/arrival times.

The app is up and working again this afternoon.

As previously reported, the Octagon Building pays for and has the contract with Next Bus for the Roosevelt Island Red Bus App.

Check out the Roosevelt Islansd Red Bus Next Bus app for yourself.

You can download the mobile app here.

Roosevelt Island and Manhattan Upper East Side NYC Council Member Ben Kallos Hosting Town Hall Meeting With Mayor Bill de Blasio Tonight 7 PM At East Side Middle School

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Member Ben Kallos will participate in a town hall meeting tonight with residents of Roosevelt Island, Yorkville, Lenox Hill, Carnegie Hill, Sutton Place, and El Barrio in East Harlem.

According to Council Member Ben Kallos:

January Town Hall with Mayor Bill de Blasio
Wednesday, January 17, 2018 - 7:00pm
End Time
Wednesday, January 17, 2018 - 9:00pm

East Side Middle School 114
331 East 91st Street
New York, NY 10128
United States

Space is limited - please RSVP by January 16 at 5PM

Co-sponsored by
Congress Member Carolyn Maloney
State Senator Liz Krueger
Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright
Lenox Hill Neighborhood House
Manhattan Community Board 8

Accessibility provided upon request.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

RIOC Recommends Roosevelt Island Youth Program To Continue As Youth Center Operator Following Advice Of Independent Review Panel - But PS/IS 217 PTA President Starts Letter Writing Campaign To Oppose RIYP Selection

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) confirmed last week it will recommend to the RIOC Board of Directors that the Roosevelt Island Youth Program (RIYP) continue to be the Operator of the Roosevelt Island Youth Center.

On January 9, I asked RIOC President Susan Rosenthal:
I understand that the Roosevelt Island Youth Program was awarded the RFP contract by RIOC to operate the Youth Center.

Is that true?

Any comment from RIOC?
Ms Rosenthal replied the next day:
Based on RIYP’s grant application– which received the highest rating from an independent panel of reviewers from the NYS Office of Children and Family Services and the Roosevelt Island Day Nursery – we will be recommending that the Board, at its upcoming January 25 meeting, award the $200,000 annual grant to RIYP....
Newly hired RIOC Public Information Officer Alonza Robertson added:
The Roosevelt Island Youth Center operator contract term is for three years with a RIOC option to renew for up to two additional one-year terms.

Click here for all the details outlined in the original RFP.
RIYP Executive Director Charlie Defino reacted to the news:
The announcement that the Roosevelt Island Youth Program Inc.. has been selected to continue it's mission of serving the Roosevelt Island community is wonderful. We are ecstatic about having the opportunity to continuing offering free services to the entire island and building on our four decades of successful operation.
According to reliable sources, there were two applicants for the current Roosevelt Island Youth Center Operator Request For Applications - RIYP and Island Kids.

At least one Roosevelt Island resident disagrees with RIOC's recommendation of RIYP as the Youth Center Operator. A tipster forwarded this message sent by PS/IS 217 PTA President Erin Olavesen to the Roosevelt Island Parents' Network yesterday:
According to the WIRE, RIOC has confirmed that the RIYP is the highest scorer for the Youth Center operator contract. The award requires approval from the RIOC board. This will be put to a vote on January 25, at their next board meeting.

RIOC giving a 3 year contract to RIYP to run our youth center is distressing and disappointing on so many levels. I hear the talk and know many of you feel the same. I’m sending a letter to RIOC to express my concerns, and asking the WIRE to publish it. I know many of you feel the youth center leadership will never change, and it isn't worth giving it a second thought. I'd hope if enough of us raise concerns, RIOC will be forced to act.

Please let me know if you’d like to read it and possibly sign your name with mine. Our kids deserve better.
I asked Ms. Olavesen:
I understand that you sent a statement today to the Roosevelt Island Parents' Network objecting to RIOC awarding the Youth Center Operator RFP to the Roosevelt Island Youth Program (RIYP). You also stated that you will be contacting RIOC asking them not to award the Youth Center Operator RFP to RIYP and urged members of the Parents Network to contact RIOC and do the same.

Is that correct?

If it is correct, why do you think it is appropriate for the President of the PS/IS 217 PTA to advocate, either in favor or opposition, to any specific applicant for the Roosevelt Island Youth Center operator, particularly since the PTA itself receives Public Purpose Funding from RIOC?

Please let me know if you will comment on this matter. I am happy to include your response in a story I plan on publishing tomorrow.

Also, if you wish, am happy to publish any letter from you on the subject as well.
Ms Olavesen replied:
Please note that I sent an email to the RIPN and posted on the Roosevelt Island Parents' Facebook page as an island resident and mother of two children. I did not send the email or post on behalf of the PTA.
There is a contentious history between the RIYP and PS/IS 217 school principal/PTA. As previously reported last spring and summer, the PS/IS 217 PTA and School Principal were responsible for removing the RIYP as the PS/IS 217 Beacon After School Provider.

Also a prior 2016 Roosevelt Island Youth Center Operator Request For Proposals was withdrawn by RIOC. The reason for the withdrawal according to RIOC President Rosenthal was:
... members of the Roosevelt Island community have submitted numerous communications to RIOC generally questioning the legitimacy of the review that resulted in a tie. Some communications included disparaging remarks about bidders. All such communications, attempting to influence the RIOC review committee while the RFP is pending, are inappropriate and are prohibited by State Finance Law. These communications, among other things, caused RIOC to withdraw the RFP on January 27, 2017.....
The tie was between RIYP and Island Kids.

Stay tuned for more.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day Today, Take A Moment To Remember And Honor His Legacy - "Life's Most Persistent And Urgent Question is: What Are You Doing For Others"

The third Monday in January has been designated as a Federal holiday in honor of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who was born January 15, 1929 and was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

Dr. King is remembered and honored for many things including his 1963 "Letter from a Birmingham Jail".

An excerpt:
... A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state's segregation laws was democratically elected? Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered. Can any law enacted under such circumstances be considered democratically structured?

Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in it's application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest....
The full text of Letter From A Birmingham Jail is here and a short excerpt of audio below.

Here's an excerpt of Dr. King's last speech - I've Been To The Mountain Top.

Politcio has an excellent article on the last years of Dr. King's life.
... Almost 50 years after his death, we remember MLK as the transcendent figure who helped lift the South out of Jim Crow. We also remember him as almost preternaturally calm in the face of great pressure and danger. He was indeed all of these things. But the passage of time has obscured his dimensionality. In the last years of his life, King expanded his vision beyond the former Confederacy and took on a broader struggle to dismantle America’s jigsaw edifice of racial and economic discrimination—a struggle that took him deep into northern states and cities, where onetime allies became bitter enemies. He did so even as he strained to keep a fractious civil rights movement unified, and in the face of unremitting sabotage from federal authorities.

He was a young man, still in his 30s—foisted onto the national stage with actors many years or decades his senior, suspect in the eyes of both younger and older civil rights leaders—and the burdens of leadership took their toll on him....
Take a moment today to remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
and the good work he accomplished to make our country a better place:
"Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'"
More on Dr. King from