Friday, October 10, 2014

Good News - Roosevelt Island F Train Service To And From Manhattan This Weekend

According to the MTA Weekender, there will be Roosevelt Island F train service

to and from Manhattan this weekend.

F Trains run local in both directions between 21 St-Queensbridge and 71 Av

Weekends, 12:01 AM Sat to 5 AM Mon, until Oct 13

Trains stop at 36, Steinway, 46 Sts, Northern Blvd, 65 St, Roosevelt, Elmhurst, Grand Avs, Woodhaven Blvd, 63 Dr and 67 Av.

Report From RIOC President Charlene Indelicato - Commends Public Safety Officer Cabassa For Helping Missing Elderly Man, Roosevelt Island Alert System, Halloween Parade, Fall For Arts & Sportspark Pool Maintenance

Silver Alert Image From NCMissingPersons

 Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Charlene Indelicato sends the following report to the community.
Before addressing Fall for Arts and other upcoming Island projects, I would like to commend our Public Safety officers for a job well done. Last weekend, the Public Safety Department received a call from the Coler-Goldwater Hospital Police regarding a car that was driving erratically. Officer Cabassa responded to the call and flagged down the vehicle. After a few questions, it became clear that the elderly person inside was disoriented and in need of assistance. Based on the driver's confusion, Cabassa believed that this might be a missing persons case. After he relayed his suspicions to the NYPD, the agency confirmed that a Silver Alert (issued for missing vulnerable adults by NYC's emergency alert system, Notify NYC) had been put out for the driver.

Shortly after confirming the alert, Officer Cabassa contacted one of the driver's relatives to let him know that his missing family member was safe and would be coming home soon. He related the story of how his parent had left home the night before and had been driving for approximately twenty-four hours and traveled almost seventy miles before being stopped by Public Safety. The two were reunited at the hospital and returned home together. After a follow-up call, Cabassa reports that the elderly person is "doing much better" and is "in good spirits now." I thank these officers for their efforts and for their role in reuniting this family.

RIOC Advisories

The example above shows just how effective and indispensable electronic alerts, such as the Silver Alert that was issued for the missing woman, have become. If you have not already signed up for local community and emergency alerts through RIOC Advisories, I urge you to visit our website at and subscribe today. Remember, if we can't reach you, we can't alert you.

RIOC is currently upgrading our current advisory system, allowing subscribers to select which categories of alerts they would like to receive and by methods such as phone, email or text message. These improvements are scheduled to be implemented during the month of November, so keep an eye out for announcements and instructions once the new system goes live.

Fall for Arts

The 2014 Fall for Arts Festival takes place today, Saturday October 11th from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. The event kicks off at 10:45 a.m. at the Motorgate Garage bus turnaround, where iDig2Learn will present The Daffodil Project. As part of a citywide initiative, we invite you to come out and plant bulbs in memory of the victims of September 11th. The festival will continue with free art classes and musical performances at the RIVAA Gallery, live mural painting on the lawn south of Rivercross and at Southpoint Park, along with fantastic multicultural food choices, free art activities, entertainment and performers at Southpoint Park and the FDR Four Freedoms Park. For a full schedule of events, visit us online at We hope you'll come out and participate in the festivities!


Roosevelt Island's annual Halloween Parade & Extravaganza, presented by Urban American with support from the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation and the Roosevelt Island Youth Center, will take place on Saturday, October 25 beginning at 11 AM. The annual Parade begins at Blackwell Park and travels down Main Street, culminating in a community celebration at Capobianco Field. In the event of inclement weather, the festivities will be moved to P.S./I.S. 217. Every year, hundreds of Roosevelt Island families come out to watch and take part in this island tradition, showcasing their creative costumes, playing games and enjoying the holiday in a safe and fun way. We hope to see you there.

Sportspark Pool Maintenance

On Wednesday, October 15th, the Sportspark Pool will close after the morning Open Swim session at 10 a.m. for scheduled maintenance. On that day, the evening Open Swim session will be canceled. Over time, the surface of the pool is subjected to wear and tear. During this short closure, contractors will make any necessary repairs to the pool's interior to ensure it remains in good condition. The Pool will reopen according to its normal schedule on Thursday, October 16th at 6 a.m. Thank you for your patience while we conduct this necessary work.

Delicious Daisy May's BBQ Coming To Roosevelt Island - But Only Tomorrow For Saturday's Fall For Arts Festival At Southpoint Park

Some Really, Really, Really, good barbecue is coming to Roosevelt Island, at least for one day. Daisy May's BBQ will be serving their delicious food Saturday, October 11 at the Roosevelt Island Fall For Arts Festival in Southpoint Park.

Daisy May's BBQ tweets:
This Saturday join us at the Roosevelt Island's Fall for Arts Festival.
We will be serving our honey glazed smoked turkey legs, pulled pork sandwiches, mac. and cheese, golden honey corn bread and our traditional sweet tea with fresh mint served in a Mason Jar.

A little bit for everyone's taste!

Daisy May's BBQ from mark on Vimeo.

Now, if Daisy May's BBQ would only open a store here on Roosevelt Island, that would be heaven.

Following Meeting With Angry Residents, Roosevelt Island Rivercross Coop Board Of Directors Reconsiders Cutting Down Courtyard Trees - Will Hire Independent Arborist To Evaluate Trees

The Roosevelt Island Rivercross Board Of Directors met with some angry shareholder residents last Tuesday evening to discuss the decision by the Directors (explained in this September 19 memo) to cut down 4 courtyard trees which the Board claimed to be:

Image Of Rivercross Courtyard Trees Planned To Be Cut Down
... a safety danger and block the views of some apartments negatively impacting their value....
Rivercross resident Ali Schwayri, President of the Roosevelt Island Tree Board, spoke for many other Rivercross residents and other members of the Roosevelt Island Community when he wrote this September 23 letter seeking help to stop the Trees from being cut down;
Apparently the efforts to stop the cutting down of the Rivercross courtyard trees worked, at least for now. Judy Berdy reports:
A packed room of Rivercross shareholders, met with the Board members last evening. The vast majority were distressed with the highhanded method used by the Board to decide quality of life matters.

After numerous comments the Board agreed to hire another arborist for an independent evaluation of the trees in question.

I thank Ali Schwayri for his efforts and for the work of our concerned neighbors that produced hundreds of petition signatures, many letters, e-mail, phone calls and letters.
Raye Schwartz adds that two of the four courtyard trees are Norway Maples:
... about to keel over which have roots precariously close to the building foundation with branches which are hanging close enough to break windows.
and a decision as to what do to with the trees will be made after consultation:
... with a certified, non-partial arborist...
The Rivercross Board  provided this memo that was sent to shareholders informing them of the Board's decision to hire a third arborist to render an opinion about the courtyard trees and noted the residents activism on the tree issue is a reminder why Rivercross is a great place to live.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

You're Invited To Roosevelt Island Outdoor Viewing Of Ken Burns's Documentary The Roosevelts: An Intimate History Tonight 5 PM At FDR Four Freedoms Park - Bring A Blanket

According to the FDR Four Freedoms Park Conservancy:

The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, An Outdoor Viewing

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Park hours have been extended to 7:30pm for this special event. Event will be held weather permitting.
Follow us on Twitter for updates.

Bring your blanket and join us for a special outdoor viewing of highlights from Ken Burns’s documentary series -

The Roosevelts: An Intimate History!

The viewing will be held on our great lawn from 6:30 – 7:30pm.

This event is free and open to the public.

The Katchkie Farm food station will be open from 5:00-7:00pm.

Members will receive free popcorn and a beverage.

(Click here to learn how to become a member!)

Check our website or twitter for updates.

We hope to see you there!
Here's Ken Burns talking to David Letterman about The Roosevelts.

You're Invited To The Roosevelt Island Fall For Arts Festival Saturday October 11 - Here's The Schedule Of Mural Painting, Musical Performances, Crafts, Food, Plantings & Much More For the Whole Family

One of the great Roosevelt Island events is coming up this Saturday. According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):
The 2014 Fall for Arts Festival will take place this Saturday, October 11th from 11 AM to 4 PM at Southpoint Park, the RIVAA Gallery, the Motorgate Garage Bus Turnaround, and on the lawn south of Rivercross. Join us for a free, family-friendly day of art & music.

Come on out for music, mural paintings, food and more! Plant spring flower bulbs, participate in the many make-and-take art workshops for all ages and explore your creativity at with the Roosevelt Island Visual Art Association, iDig2Learn, Roosevelt Island Explorers, Island Kids, Island Cats, the Roosevelt Island Day Nursery and many more. We hope you join us for this fantastic celebration of art! A schedule of activities is attached to this email.

This event is presented by the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation and will take place rain or shine. All activities are free; food and drink will be made available for purchase.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
Image From RIOC

Here's the Roosevelt Island Fall For Arts Festival Schedule:
Event Schedule:

Motorgate Garage Bus Turnaround (688 Main Street)

Join iDig2Learn for The Daffodil Project – plant spring bulbs as a living memorial to September 11th!
All ages are welcome.
10:45 AM: Free registration
11 AM – 12 PM: Bulb planting begins

Lawn South of Rivercross (501 Main Street)

ALL DAY: Live Mural Painting
RIVAA Gallery (527 Main Street)
11 AM – 2 PM: FREE Acrylic Painting, Pastel Drawing, and Korean Ink Painting Workshops
2 PM – 2:45 PM: Medieval music on harp and violin by Nina Bogomas
3 PM – 3:45 PM: Chinese Qin performance & storytelling by Mingmei Yip
4 PM – 4:45 PM: Medieval music on harp and violin by Nina Bogomas
5 PM – 5:45 PM: Portuguese & English language guitar and vocal performances by Matt Katz and Sherie Helstien
Southpoint Park

11 AM – 4 PM:

Live mural painting and FREE art workshops for all ages provided by RIOC
Build a Medieval Village with the Roosevelt Island Explorers
Decorate your bike with Bike New York
Create a crafty disguise with Island Kids
Color with Island Cats
Make buttons with Struttin’ Buttons
Create multicultural masks and puppets with Materials for the Arts
Children’s musical workshop for kids with Main Street Theatre & Dance Association
Free face painting, roving entertainers, caricature drawings and more provided by RIOC

Southpoint Park (Main Stage)

1 PM – 2 PM: Urbano Folklore’s “Cumbia for All” music and dance workshop for all ages
2:15 – 3:15 PM: Penny and the Puppettes in a musical medieval puppet show FDR Four Freedoms Park
11 AM – 4 PM: Free apple cider and cookies provided by the FDR Four Freedoms Park
11 AM – 4 PM: “Let’s Fly Kites” Kite-making workshop


Southpoint Park:

Daisy May’s BBQ – Barbeque and other Southern fare
Desi’s Food Truck – Indian and vegetarian cuisine
R.I. Youth Program – Cotton candy and popcorn

Lawn South of Rivercross:

Fauzia’s Heavenly Delights – Vegetarian and Carribean cuisine
Come join your neighbors at the 2014 Roosevelt Island Fall For Arts Festival. You'll have a great time.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Woman Bicyclist Hit By Roosevelt Island Red Bus Near Gristedes Turnaround Tonight - Taken To Hospital

Received this report about 9:30 PM from a Roosevelt Island resident:

Red bus hit a person (can't tell if pedestrian or bicyclist) just before Gristedes turn around. Road closed going north.
Kevin Deutch tweets:
Click thru the tweets for more pictures but be advised they are close ups of the scene. (pictures were removed).

According to Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC,) Public Safety Director Jack McManus a female bicycle rider was hit by the Red Bus. The woman was taken to the hospital. No further information available at this time.

UPDATE 10/9 - According to RIOC:
Last night, a collision occurred near the turnaround by Gristedes between a bicyclist and one of our Red Buses. The accident is currently being investigated by NYPD and we are taking the necessary precautions to ensure that all proper procedures are followed.

Please be advised that we have been actively working to ensure that our streets are safe for cyclists and motorists. Recently, members of RIOC's Transportation and Community Relations departments met with cycling nonprofit Bike New York to discuss road-sharing and safety education classes, both for Red Bus drivers and for cyclists in our community. Our goal is to promote a safe and progressive approach to traffic on Roosevelt Island and to maintain the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. It is important that cyclists exercise safety at all times by wearing a helmet. Drivers and cyclists are encouraged to always be aware of their surroundings at all times and to use extra caution in high-traffic areas.

We will continue to investigate this incident and will respond to the situation appropriately.
UPDATE 10/14: Received this statement from RIOC today:
Last Wednesday, October 8th, a cyclist was involved in an traffic collision with a Red Bus (a local shuttle service) near the Motorgate Garage bus turnaround on Roosevelt Island. We have been advised by the NYPD that the cyclist sustained a severe head injury and is currently hospitalized in serious condition.

Charlene M. Indelicato, President of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, states: "Our thoughts and sympathies are with the cyclist and all those affected by this traumatic incident. I extend my heartfelt condolences to her family and loved ones as they undergo this difficult experience."

The New York City Police Department is currently handling this investigation.
UPDATE 10/15 - Latest here.

Roosevelt Island iDig2Learn Daffodil Project Saturday October 11 - Come Plant Some Bulbs And Help Beautify Roosevelt Island During Fall For Arts Festival

Christina Delfico of iDig2Learn reports on The Daffodil Project taking place on  Roosevelt Island during the October 11 Roosevelt Island Fall For Arts Festival.
iDig2Learn hosts The Daffodil Project 

Saturday, October 11th Fall for Arts Festival

Make your mark. Come kick off RIOC’s Fall For Arts Festival with The Daffodil Project. Help us "paint with nature" as we beautify the Motorgate area in this the family friendly activity then tour the island and South Point Park for other activities. Join us as we plant daffodil bulbs outdoors so this Spring we will be greeted by cheerful daffodil flowers as they bloom and we remember.

Image Of Emily Walker (NY4Parks), Ms. Delfico & Ron & Jennifer Schuppert (RI Garden Club)

When: Saturday, October 11, 2014

Where: Motorgate Red Bus turnaround near Gristedes, Roosevelt Island, NY 10044

Free Pre-registration for children/families*: 15 minutes prior to event at 10:45 AM on site

Event Time: 11 AM to NOON

Volunteer arrival: 10:15 AM (set up tables/chairs and materials, help with free registration / photo waiver sign up, help children plant bulbs, clean up) Volunteer end time - 12:30 PM

Event Day Volunteers please RSVP to host iDig2Learn via:
Christina Delfico cell: (917) 371 1986 or

*Beginning at 10:45 AM, all families must pre register day of at Motorgate Plaza 15 minutes before the 11 AM bulb planting and sign a photo release to participate. Event wraps at noon.

New Yorker 4 Parks - The Daffodil Project

For over 100 years, New Yorkers for Parks has built, protected and promoted parks and open spaces in New York City. Today, NY4P is the citywide independent organization championing quality parks and open spaces for all New Yorkers in all neighborhoods. The Daffodil Project was founded in 2001 as a living memorial to September 11. With nearly FIVE MILLION free bulbs planted citywide by more than 100,000 school kids, parks and gardening groups, civic organizations, corporate volunteers and other New Yorkers, it is one of the largest volunteer efforts in the city’s history.

Dig2Learn initiative

The iDig2Learn initiative creates programs for children to explore science, math and healthy habits through plant life. For more information on educational garden opportunities for children, to volunteer or to donate to the program please contact:
Ms. Delfico explained the Daffodil project to the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) during the October 1 Public Session.

Here's what Ms. Delfico had to say.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Roosevelt Island Participatory Budgeting Information Session Tonight 6 PM - Help NYC Council Member Ben Kallos Spend $1 Million For Roosevelt Island And Upper East Side

From Roosevelt Island's New York City Council Member Ben Kallos:
Participatory Budgeting Neighborhood Assembly at Roosevelt Island Senior Center
Tuesday, October 7, 2014 - 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Roosevelt Island Senior Center
546 Main Street
New York, NY 10044
Mr. Kallos adds:
Participatory budgeting empowers you to decide how one million of your tax dollars get spent.

Whether you’re passionate about green space, improving housing conditions or senior services, participatory budgeting allows you to come up with creative ideas and champion them for the good of the community.

Join us at an upcoming Neighborhood Assembly to learn more and get involved:...
More on NYC Participatory Budgeting from previous post.

Also, during Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) October 1 Public Session, Council Member Kallos staffer for Roosevelt Island Joe Strong explained the NYC Participatory Budgeting process to RIRA Common Council Members.

Here's what Mr. Strong had to say.

More information on Participatory Budgeting at PBNYC and video below.

Participatory budgeting in not new to Roosevelt Island. We have been using it for years to allocate $100 Thousand Public Purpose Funds annually.

UPDATE 9:45 PM - NYC Council Member Ben Kallos attended tonight's Roosevelt Island Participatory Budget Assembly. Here's what he had to say.

Prior to Mr. Kallos speaking, Kallos Roosevelt Island staffer Joe Strong introduced Roosevelt Island residents to the Participatory Budgeting process.

Will have the break out sessions with suggestions for projects to be funded later.

UPDATE 10/8 - Projects eligible to be funded through the Participatory Budgeting process must be for Capital Projects only, meaning brick and mortar, not services, and be greater than $35,000.

Among the suggestions for Roosevelt Island projects to be funded through the Participatory Budgeting process were:
  • Replace toddler playgound,
  • Indoor space for toddler to play in winter by using old Tram Cabins,
  • Air quality monitoring infrastructure,
  • Equipment for new Roosevelt Island Library - handicap accessibility,
  • Renovation of Roosevelt Island Youth Program Premises at 506 Main Street,
  • Ramp for Coler Hospital Patients To Access waterfront promenade,
  • Improve Landscaping around Coler Hospital,
  • Tennis Court Striping for kids tennis,
  • Safe Bike Lane for Roosevelt Island Bridge,
  • Bus Stop at top of Motorgate Garage,
  • Kayak launch,
  • Baseball field refurbishment,
  • Gallery RIVAA renovation and
  • FDR Hope Memorial site elements.
Also suggested, in a half joking manner, were a new Roosevelt Island subway line and an elevator/stairway from Roosevelt Island to the Queensboro Bridge.

Mr. Kallos advised that volunteers who are passionate about any of these projects are needed to champion them through the Participatory Budgeting process.

Here's excerpts

from the Roosevelt Island Participatory Budgeting Assembly Break-Out Sessions

UPDATE 2 PM - You can volunteer or add suggestions for projects to be funded here.

President Of Roosevelt Island Tree Board Urges Rivercross Shareholders To Attend Tonight's Coop Board Meeting And Tell Directors To Stop The Arborcide Of Healthy Courtyard Trees For The God Of Real Estate

An update of the September 22 post regarding Rivercross Coop Board Of Directors decision to cut down 4 healthy courtyard trees.

Image Of Rivercross Courtyard Trees Planned To Be Cut Down

As previously reported:
The Roosevelt Island Rivercross Coop Board Of Directors informed shareholder residents of the building that 4 very tall courtyard trees (almost 9 stories high) planted before the building was constructed over 38 years ago will soon be removed. According to a September 19 memo from the Board of Directors the trees are a safety danger and block the views of some apartments negatively impacting their value. The memo also states that the trees will be replaced by 5 cherry trees and accompanying shrubbery....
... I am told that some residents are extremely upset by the Rivercross Board Of Directors decision to remove these trees describing it as "arborcide".
Roosevelt Island Tree Board President and Rivercross resident Ali Schwaryi sent this September 23 letter to Rivercross shareholders urging them to attend Rivercross Board of Directors meeting tonight and tell the Rivercross Directors to stop the arborcide of the 4 courtyard trees.  Here is the transcript of the letter pictured below:
Dear Neighbors,

My name is Ali Schwaryi and I am writing in opposition to the Rivercross Board's decision to cut down four great trees in the inner courtyard (memo dated Sept. 19. Replacement of Trees")"

I have been a Rivercross resident since 1977 and as president of the Parks Committee, and currently the Tree Board. I and other members have worked tirelessly to plant about 150 trees and to save some great, mature trees from destruction by developers.

The Board's reasons for cutting down those four trees (two London Plane and two Norway Maple) are not convincing, even BOGUS in my opinion.

Reason 1: " The trees are big and a potential danger. In case of another hurricane such as Sandy to the Blue Wing and the Child School".
Fact: The Trees are healthy and have already survived hurricane Sandy with no damage to the trees, the Blue Wing or the Child School. They are surrounded on three sides by the building and are protected from the effects of high wind.

Reason 2: "The trees obscure the views of some apartments and negatively impact the value of those apartments."
Fact: The trees PARTIALLY affect the views of some apartments for only about 5 months per year but for the remaining 7 months when the trees are leafless, the views are unobstructed. Some residents I have discussed this with love having both views (trees and river/cityscape) at different times.

There are about 18 big trees on the south, west and north sides of Rivercross, which are closer to the building and have the same effect on views. ARE WE TO EXPECT THE BOARD TO ORDER THE DESTRUCTION OF THOSE TREES IN THE FUTURE? Are we setting a bad precedent?

Reason3: "The trees are impacting the value of the apartments affected".
Fact: Everyone knows that trees enhance property values by providing natural beauty and shade, and by minimizing the effects of hot weather.

Reason 4: "We are not just removing trees, we are replacing them with Kwanzan Cherry trees and flowering shrubs".
Fact: The Board wants you to accept cutting down four big trees, some as old as 75 years, and replacing them with five Cherry trees and some shrubs that will not do well in that location because of limited sunlight. The Norway Maples predated the construction of our building by many years i.e. they were here first and deserve to live even if they partially obstruct the views of some for part of the year.

The trees in question can be intelligently pruned (not topped) to improve the views of those affected. The real reason for cutting them down, in my opinion, is disregard by some for our natural surroundings, ignorance about the value of trees and placing the "God of Real Estate" above all.

As president of the Tree Board, I and other members will do everything in our power to inform the residents of Rivercross about this important issue.


Come to the next Rivercross Board meeting on October 7, 531 Community Room 8 PM and speak against their decision and let your voices be heard.

Sincerely Dr. Ali.N. Schwaryi, President of Tree Board with support form Dr. Kathie Grimm and Ms. Fay Christian Tree Board members.

Rivercross resident Dr. Kathie Grimm added:
Dear Fellow Share Holders, This is a condensed letter I sent to the board members and management on Sunday. The issue of cuttting the trees down has previously been presented to the board and voted down. A former board member suggested a petition to see how the building feels in general about the trees. Another former board member suggested that all those who face the court yard be questioned for their opinions. This is a very controversial issue and unhappy share holders need to let their opions known to the board.

September 20, 2014,

Dear Rivercross Board Members,

Over the years I have always appreciated and supported the good work that the Rivercross Board does. However, yesterday while I was still busy at work, I received two distressed calls about the recent decision to cut down four trees....

..As you know many people on Roosevelt Island are passionate about trees and for good reason. The trees are a big reason for making this such a special place. Indeed one of the reasons I moved to apartment ... was because of the trees when I lived in ..., I loved the trees outside my window.

I have been on the Tree Board with Dr. Schwaryi, Faye Christian and Nurity Marcus for years. Dr. Schwaryi is extremely knowledgeable about trees and has served as a consultant to RIOC and Cornell-Technion as well as Hudson Related. It is his opinion that these mature trees do not represent a danger to our building and indeed as I walked around the building today, there are many other trees just as close if not closer the building than these four.

It would sadden me greatly to have those trees removed and planting new trees does not insure success. I think that the trees actually contribute to the value of my apartment rather than detract from it.
Real estate web site Brick Underground reported on the Roosevelt Island Rivercross tree controversy:
... In 2000, the New York Times addressed this very issue, noting that “unless the proprietary lease or bylaws of a co-op contain unusual provisions, the board of directors generally has the right to make all decisions regarding the operation and maintenance of the co-op's property. … It is unlikely that a court would grant an injunction barring the removal of the trees.”...
I asked Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Charlene Indelicato:
... Since RIOC is the lessor of the Rivercross ground lease is Rioc's consent required to cut the trees down?...
Ms. Indelicato replied:
No consent is required by RIOC
Will update with more after the meeting.

Monday, October 6, 2014

NY State Comptroller DiNapoli Audits Past Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Discretionary Spending And Reports $83 Thousand In Questionable Spending - RIOC Says Spending Took Place More Than 2 Years Ago And New Administration Established Procedures To Prevent Waste, Fraud And Abuse

The NY State Comptroller's Office undertook an audit (Page 1):
To determine whether Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation’s discretionary spending complied with its guidelines and expenses were reasonable, adequately supported, and properly approved. Our audit covers from April 1, 2010 through December 31, 2012....
According to the Comptroller's Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) discretionary spending audit released on October 3 (Page 1):
... During our audit period, we identified approximately $1.7 million of RIOC spending that was discretionary in nature. Each public authority should have formal policies and procedures specifying the types of discretionary costs that are appropriate and the dollar thresholds, supporting documentation, and formal approvals that are necessary to be accountable for such costs....
and (Pages 4-6):
...we examined 156 payments totaling $ 144,856 for the period April 1, 2010 through December 31, 2012.

We did not question 43 payments totaling $56,834. However, we questioned 98 payments totaling $83,419 because they were not properly approved, were not reasonable, and/or were not adequately documented or because no policy existed to determine the appropriateness of the expense. The remaining 15 payments totaling $4,603 raised other questions related to appropriateness, which are discussed in the section entitled Other Matters.

There were 21 payments where RIOC procedures were not followed:
  • 17 payments totaling $5,612 pertained to employee travel costs for which RIOC could not provide support demonstrating the benefit to the authority. For example, $2,634 related to three employees who attended a conference in the Netherlands where two of them made a presentation. However, RIOC officials could not support why the third employee went to the conference at a cost of $2,279. RIOC also paid $355 for the two employees who made the presentation and extended their stay beyond the conference dates. The two employees did not reimburse RIOC for these additional costs.
  • Four payments totaling $16,219 made to a vendor for public and media relations services were not properly procured through the competitive process. Instead, RIOC obtained these services by twice extending an existing emergency contract and then issuing a backdated contract to cover the services.
There were 77 payments not covered by RIOC’s procedures:
  • Six payments totaling $29,001 were for training costs. However, RIOC lacked a policy to clarify how it determines and documents what training is appropriate for its employees to fulfill its mission. For example, RIOC paid $14,560 for three sessions of “Customer Service” training and $12,000 for 11 sessions of “Horticulture” training. RIOC officials could not demonstrate how these training programs were appropriate or what procedures they used to select the vendors. RIOC also could not document why it paid to send an outside contractor’s employees to the Customer Service training. Finally, we found RIOC paid $3,175 for an employee to obtain a management certification that was required for a potential promotion. However, the employee did not attend the course. RIOC did not request a refund in a timely manner, waiting 667 days, and ultimately received only a partial refund of $734.
  • Three payments totaling $4,143 were for purchases of promotional items such as magnet squares, movie banners, and table throws. RIOC has no procedures related to promotional items, but RIOC officials asserted that these items fell within their General Development Plan (GDP). We found the GDP did provide for certain items, such as tee shirts given to event staff and teams, but there is no mention of the need for these other types of promotional items.
  • Sixty-four payments totaling $27,420 were for food. RIOC had no policy and procedures in place pertaining to discretionary costs for food. For example, seven payments totaling $15,216 were for retirement and holiday parties and staff appreciation luncheons. Generally, high-level employees initiated these food purchases, so that no approval was requested or required. There was no documentation to support that the meals were necessary or that costs were reasonable.
  • Four additional payments totaling $1,024 represented floral arrangements and food purchased for undocumented business meetings. These events were unrelated to RIOC’s primary purpose or mission.
We also identified 15 other payments totaling $4,603 that represent, at a minimum, questionable use of the Authority’s resources.
  • Nine payments were made by a few employees who used the corporate credit card on several occasions to pay for personal purchases from places such as Apple iTunes, Best Buy, and Enterprise, and for personal meals. RIOC’s credit card policy prohibits the use of the card for non-business purchases. A RIOC official stated that these transactions were incidental, were committed by mistake, and eventually repaid by the employees. However, the fact that some staff repeatedly did not follow the policy calls into question whether their acts were unintentional.
  • Three payments totaling $3,638 were for purchases of six high-definition televisions. Officials told us that they purchased these televisions for use in monitoring RIOC’s buses. However, RIOC was unable to locate two of the six televisions, and our auditors found three of the other four were being used for other purposes.
  • Three remaining payments totaling $262 represented gifts, one of which was for a Board member. RIOC officials could not explain why these purchases had been made using the corporate credit card except to say that former RIOC executives had requested them.

1. Exercise increased restraint over discretionary spending and discontinue any spending that is not consistent with RIOC’s primary purpose or mission.
2. Establish written policies and procedures for discretionary costs, including requirements for necessary justifications, cost thresholds, formal approvals, and supporting documentation.
3. Improve accountability for small equipment assets.
RIOC President Charlene Indelicato sent the following letter dated September 10 in reply to the Comptoller's Audit (Pages 10-11) .

Ms. Indelicato adds in a statement today:
The issues mentioned in the Comptroller's report were identified over 2 years ago by the State and as a result, the State and RIOC Board appointed new leadership to reorganize the Corporation and has since taken further internal controls to prevent waste, fraud and abuse. Furthermore, criminal charges and demand for repayment of misused funds were brought on those found to have consistently violated the process.
Click here for the full NY State Comptroller's Audit on RIOC's discretionary spending during 2010 -12 (discretionary spending audits of other NY State Agencies here) and here for NY Post story on subject.
The Comptroller's Report follows the August 2014 NY State Inspector General's report on corruption from 2007 to 2012 at the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp under prior RIOC administrations.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

WOW - Gorgeous Photo Of Nighttime Roosevelt Island, Queensboro Bridge And New York City Skyline Lights - The City That Never Sleeps

Gorgeous photo at night of Roosevelt Island and NYC East River Waterfront skyline all lit up from Free Tours By Foot.

East River Water Jet Skiers Zoom Past Roosevelt Island

Image From Mike Temple Fun On The Water At Roosevelt Island You Tube Video

Mike Temple shares this video of East River water Jet Skiers zooming

past Roosevelt Island last weekend.

Looks like fun.