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Friday, June 13, 2008

Governor Moves Forward On Only Three of Six Elected RIOC Board Candidates

Image of RIOC Board Candidates from Roosevelt Island 360 via Main Street WIRE

An update on the status of the RIOC Board candidate nominees. The Main Street WIRE reports:
The Governor's office has told three of six successful candidates in February's election to nominate residents to the RIOC Board that their names will be sent to the State Senate for confirmation. In addition, longtime resident Board member David Kraut has been asked to continue on the Board.

But Kraut's reappointment means that at least one winner of the community's February election for nomination to the open Board seats will not be appointed. He and other sitting Board members had opted not to be candidates in the February balloting.

On Wednesday night, the Common Council of the Residents Association unanimously authorized a letter to the Governor calling for appointment of all six winners in the community election. Members decried the Governor's office "cherry-picking" the results of the community election. On Thursday night, Assemblymember Micah Kellner assured the Maple Tree Group, a RIRA subcommittee that has worked toward democratization of the RIOC Board, that he will ask the Governor to reconsider his staff's decision to appoint a resident who chose not to run for a Board seat in the February election.

In addition to Kraut, the three announced appointees are Dr. Kathie Grimm, Jonathan Kalkin, and Fay Christian. Election winners passed over by the Governor's office include Frank Farance, Erin Feely-Nahem, and Howard Polivy.

Beause there are only six openings on the Board, and the Governor and Mayor appoint four and two, respectively, at least one of the elected nominees will not be appointed. While the Mayor is not obligated to choose election winners as his nominees (and only one of his nominees must be an Islander), City Councilmember Jessica Lappin has urged him to honor the community's election.
Reaction from RIOC President Steve Shane:
Governor's perogative. See statute.
From State Senator Jose Serrano:
As a strong supporter of the election, I am of course not 100% satisfied. But let's remember, this is an unprecedented process -- one for which RIRA, RIOC, as well as the Governor deserve a lot of credit -- and I think we've moved beyond what anyone expected just a couple of years ago. My next step is reaching out to Andrea Shapiro Davis, who advises Mayor Bloomberg on appointments, so that she understands the new landscape and how much we value self-determination on the island.
And Assemblymember Micah Kellner's response:
... I am obviously very disappointed that the Governor has apparently decided against appointing all of the nominees who were chosen by Roosevelt Islanders in a democratic ballot. As you know, I have been in repeated contact with the Governor's office, insisting again and again that all of the elected nominees be appointed, provided they pass a police background check. I most recently wrote to the Governor on June 4th to reiterate this point, and to specifically note, again:

"Those members currently serving expired terms must not be considered exempt from the democratically-expressed will of Island residents - indeed, some residents have speculated that none of the sitting Board members like Mr. Kraut chose not to participate in the balloting process because they did not want to expose themselves to a clear repudiation from the community they are supposed to represent."

(The letter is attached.)

I wrote to the Governor again on June 6th, to pass on a letter from Matthew Katz, asking the Governor's office to meet with RIRA on this issue as soon as possible. I will continue to pressure the Governor to do the right thing and respect the will of the Island's residents. I'm still hopeful that we can convince him to change his mind and appoint all of the nominees chosen by the residents of Roosevelt Island.
Here is copy of Assemblymember Kellner's June 4 letter to Governor Patterson:
Dear Governor Paterson

While I was pleased that your office interviewed the winners of the Island’s recommendation vote for appointees to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) Board of Directors, I write to you now because I am incredible disheartened to learn that your appointments office has requested police background checks for only three of the reccomended candidates, Dr.. Kathie Grimm, Mr. Jonathan Kalkin, and Ms. Fay Christian. The fact that Mr. David Kraut is receiving a police background check indicates to me that your office has already decided to reject the will of the Island. I hope I am mistaken.

The winning candidates were chosen by the community as part of a deliberate and well-
considered process. I strongly believe that if the Roosevelt Island community had been satisfied with the performance of the residents who currently sit on the Board, like Mr. Kraut, it would not have undertaken such an exhaustive effort. Those members currently serving expired terms must not be considered exempt from the democratically-expressed will of Island residents – indeed, some residents have speculated that none of the sitting Board members like Mr. Kraut chose not to participate in the balloting process because they did not want to expose themselves to a clear repudiation from the community they are supposed to represent.

I respectfully request that you proceed with police background checks for all six of the resident-reccomended candidates that your office has already interviewed, Not to proceed with these backgroundchecks only limits your options. I would like to avoid such a situation and doing police background checks on all the resident-reccomended candidates allows the dialogue to continue.

I strongly urge you to respect the results of Roosevelt Island’s historic vote. If the six winning
candidates can pass a police background check, I request that your appoint them to the RIOC Board of Directors so that their confirmation by the State Senate can go forward before the end of the legislative session. Thank you for your consideration of this request.
Councilmember Jessica Lappin did not respond to inquiry for comment.

UPDATE 6/23 - Assemblymember Kellner advises of the following (message
received on 6/19):
The governor's 4 rioc appointments were just confirmed by the Senate. There are already rumors that the Senate will hold a special session in July, where mayoral reccomendations (if any are made) could be confirmed.

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