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Why Did RIRA Release Embarrassing Survey Results?

Updated 37 weeks ago David Stone
Balloons Aren't All That's Full of Hot Air and the Reporting Was No Better
Balloons Aren't All That's Full of Hot Air and the Reporting Was No Better
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Why Did RIRA Release Embarrassing Survey Results?

 The Roosevelt Island Residents’ Association can be a curious organism to watch, full of inexplicable self-confidence and a bit deluded about its importance, but with the much hyped SURVEY, the situation verged on comical.

The Main Street WIRE, which has acted as the group’s marketing wing for years, weighed in: 

“The Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA), comprised of elected volunteers from all buildings on the Island, ran a survey, open to Islanders for five months, to ascertain what Islanders need most.”

First laugh: The Wire’s claim that RIRA “ran a survey.” What the group actually did was plead with anyone to fill in the survey, even people who don’t live on the Island, for nearly six months. In January, they tried goosing participation by warning that there was February 12 deadline. 

But posters continued to dot the Island landscape for another four months before RIRA finally gave in to reality. That is, very few people cared about their survey. 

Roughly 6% of Island residents filled the questionnaire out, although it was pushed in front of them, week after week, and 94% couldn’t be bothered.

The results are even worse than RIRA gets for its elections, which are essentially exercises in demonstrating that only about 10% of adult residents care enough about the association to spend two minutes voting for its officers.

Do Questions Rigged To Get a Preferred Result Make It a Survey?

I’m not going to report on the Survey’s results. It never came close to an objective poll, but if you are interested, the Roosevelt Islander blog posted a summary. 

Roosevelt Island’s demographics are not reasonably represented in the composition of respondents, although the only information shared is broad age groups. RIRA, suspiciously I believe, did not report in which buildings their respondents live, although the question was asked in the Survey and, undoubtedly, answered.

All we know is that one-third of the participants were over 60, and since there were many complaints about the Senior Center, the easy conclusion is that the Survey drew mainly from RIRA’s regular constituency in the WIRE buildings, especially Roosevelt Landings.

If enough people bothered to fill out the questionnaire to make the results meaningful, I’d comment on the highly slanted and deeply unscientific nature of the questions themselves. 

But there is no need to go there. What the survey tells us, loud and clear, is that RIRA occupies no meaningful place in the Roosevelt Island community. 

Conclusion

When you can only coax 6% of your claimed constituents to fill out a brief survey over five plus months, you need to take a long look at what you are doing or, more appropriate, not doing.

Looked at as a vote of confidence, the Survey shows a widespread apathy toward RIRA and little hope that the organization will change.

This must be taken in the context of years with the Main Street WIRE hyping RIRA as some deeply plugged in community group, which it is not and hasn’t been at any time during my stay on the Island. 

With voter turn out so low for their elections (12% last time around) and with the WIRE now lacking the clout that enabled RIRA unchallenged access to the public, it’s time for some soul searching. 

The Survey exposed the Residents’ Association’s lack of community involvement. Now is the time for them either to reinvent themselves in a way that will win local support or back off and let other groups take a shot at representing residents. The Community Coalition, formed to represent Roosevelt Islanders during Cornell’s during construction and filled with smart, activist members, would be a good place to start looking.

 

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