Friday, October 29, 2021

Should RIOC Board Director Who Moved Away From Roosevelt Island Remain On Board And Make Decisions Effecting Residents Among Issues Asked About At October 28 RIOC Board Meeting Public Session

As reported October 20:

...Roosevelt Island democratic representation suffered another setback yesterday when 1 of two Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board Directors who are no longer Roosevelt Island residents, David Kapell, chose to remain on the Board with the apparent approval, or indifference, of Governor Hochul and RIOC....


UPDATE 10/21 Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Vice President Erin Feely-Nahem adds:

Jeffrey Escobar did the right thing by resigning. 

Exacerbated by the pandemic,many issues have arisen on the Island which need to be addressed, increasing the importance of Resident input. As we are unable to vote for who manages and controls the ongoing development within our community, it is imperative to have active community members on the RIOC Board to provide insight on, and vote for what residents' feel is important for their community. 

An individual who is living within a community offers a more educated opinion than either an individual who spends 40 hours a week here, or worse, pops in for an hour Zoom meeting quarterly. .At the least, residents should be voting on who we want to represent us on the five "public member" board seats. 

David Kapell is unknown to the community and does not necessarily represent the resident's desires. Presently, although one can submit questions or concerns to the RIOC Board via email, there is no system in place for real dialogue between the RIOC Board members and the community, nor any means of accountability for decisions made.

During yesterday's (October 28) Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors meeting Public Session (RIOC will post video here), I asked:

RIOC claims that current Board Member David Kapell holds 1 of two public Board seats that does not require Roosevelt Island residency. 

Please show where in Mr Kappel’s appointment by former Governor Cuomo, Mr Kapell was designated in a Rioc Board seat that does not require Roosevelt Island residency. 

Also, please show where former RIOC Board member Jeff Escobar, who resigned because he no longer lived on Roosevelt Island was designated as an appointment which required Roosevelt Island residency. 

Why does Mr Kappel wish to remain on RIOC Board since he no longer lives here and is not effected by decisions made by the RIOC Board. 

RIOC General Counsel Gretchen Robinson replied that Governor Hochul's Appointments Office:

... has confirmed and double confirmed and triple confirmed that Mr Kapell is serving in a legitimate seat and is not violating any regulation or rules or laws. We appreciate his service to the Board.

Mr Kapell was appointed to the RIOC Board with Jeff Escobar and Conway Ekpo in June 2019 by Governor Cuomo at which time all 3 were Roosevelt Island residents. Mr Escobar moved away from Roosevelt Island and resigned from the RIOC Board after the issue of his remaining was raised.

Mr Kapell refuses to resign and declined to say why he wished to remain on the RIOC Board after moving away from Roosevelt Island.

Roosevelt Island resident Matt Katz also asked during the Public Session about Mr Kapell remaining on the RIOC Board after moving away from Roosevelt Island. According to Mr Katz:

I wrote you on October 4 regarding the illegal appointments of Jeffrey Escobar and David Kappel, non-residents of Roosevelt Island, to fill seats on the RIOC Board of Directors designated by statute for Island residents. There has been comment regarding the meaning of the term resident and I said at the time that a resident is not a past resident, not a future resident or a wanna-be resident. The reason we, Island activists persuaded Gov. Pataki to require by amendment of Ch. 899 to appoint a majority of Island RESIDENTS to the Board was to ensure that people with skin in the game would determine this Island community's future. You write back, saying that you would respond to me shortly. Three weeks later, there has been no response. 

Since then, Jeffrey Escobar, a long-time advocate for and participant in the life of this community, resigned from the Board, understanding the clear (clear even to State lawyers) mandate to do so. David Kappel, never an Island activist or participant in the life of this community,and unknown to me after my many years of service to my fellow residents, has not resigned, perhaps counting on former Governor Cuomo's endorsement as sufficient bona fides for the post. We intend to bring the matter up with Gov. Hochul and to seek redress for this violation of the statute. Regards,

I also asked:

  • What is the status of AVAC system. Why is it broken. I am told that there are holes in the tubes which need to be repaired. Is that true? When will it be fixed. 
  • Why is RIOC's new Main Street office hidden behind frosted windows from the public. What message does that send to the community? 
  • Why was the Roosevelt Island media not invited to attend and report on this week’s Bank Town Hall meeting? I understand that three elected officials attended as well as 2 residents. Why was the media excluded.

None of these question were asked by Ms Robinson during the Public Session.

Additional questions or comments submitted by residents for the RIOC Board Public Session were about:

  • Recycling activities,
  • Climate Change mitigation efforts,
  • Waste Reduction Efforts,
  • When will Roosevelt Island Tramway be added to Google Maps,
  • Will Public Safety Officers patrol more and have more of an active presence and
  • Southtown Trash pick up

All except the climate change mitigation efforts received no response.

Here's the RIOC Board Public Session.

You can submit here a question or comment to the next RIOC Board of Directors meeting Public Session.