The Haggard Maple Tree Group Rears Its Aging Head

Is RIRA Really Electing RIOC Board Members?

Updated 4 weeks ago Peter McCarthy
The Foolishness Continues
The Foolishness Continues

So, what do you get when you mix Joyce Short's resuscitation of the Maple Tree Group with the former Main Street WIRE's casual relationship with journalism?

You get Opportunity Knocks for Seat on the RIOC Board, Short's fractured headline in the print edition, a deceptive foray into alternative reality.

The drive to waste residents' time and energy in pursuit of a Maple Tree Group fantasy agenda, the kind of thing that usually only appeals to bored kids with not much else to do, that should have been left in its grave is two-pronged in a recent, error plagued WIRE.

First, editor Briana Warsing announced, on the front page yet, "Date Set for RIOC Board Nominations," advancing a story about a pointless exercise pushed through a spineless Common Council by Joyce Short. It, of course, got traction with the Main Street WIRE, a publication so desperate for stories its other front page items include a conflict from a July 31st Community Coalition meeting -- yes, July 31st, three meetings ago -- and the belabored creation of a sign that really needed no more than a phone call.

Warsing quotes Short: “It was brought to our attention that filling the expired seats on the RIOC Board is on the Governor’s radar screen.”

By whom? you might wonder.

The Daily asked Short that very question. She didn't answer, not a surprise since the Common Council adheres to the Trump-like media censorship policy demanded by their vice president Sherie Helstien, last year.

"Don't give him anything," Helstien ordered Council members, pointing a thorny finger at our editor, David Stone.

A la Trump: if you don't like the news being reported, shun the media. Hence, Short and the Council must lean heavily on acquiescent coverage in the Main Street WIRE.

But there was more. Warsing gave Short a free shot at advancing her agenda in the occasional Island Observer feature, which usually is set aside for... well, observations, like Dick Lutz's recent ruminations on Main Street business issues and David Bauer's proposal that Blackwell House become home for RIOC presidents.

In this instance, "Observer" should have been replaced with "Promoter."

"The Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) is seeking nominees interested in running to fill the expired spots on the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) Board of Directors. How many seats need filling? All of them. Yup, all seven spots! Five seats are awarded by Governor Cuomo, and two are awarded by Mayor de Blasio. All are currently occupied by folks whose appointments have long expired!" leads Short's column.

The truth is that exactly 0 "seats need filling." While not quite lying, Short is not being wholly truthful either.

The RIOC Board has two vacancies, the most recent created by Dr. Katherine Grimm's resignation. Even so, the group functions effectively as a unit, and business has proceeded smoothly through the administrations of Charlene Indelicato and Susan Rosenthal, in spite of vacancies.

As for "folks whose appointments have long expired," Short misleads. Board members who work together effectively without compensation are not easy to find. The five resident members, David Kraut, Margie Smith, Fay Christian, Howard Polivy and Michael Shinozaki have served both RIOC and the community well and were, with good reason, held over beyond their original terms, which have never actually expired.

As a reality check when the "Elect RIOC" promotion first popped up in our email, we asked RIOC president Susan Rosenthal if the State agency was onboard and ready to accept the election results. Her response was quick and to the point.

"There is no such agreement."

We also asked Short as well as fellow Common Council members, Frank Farance and Noah Keating, "Can you clarify the point of this effort? Has RIOC or the governor signaled any willingness to recognize the results of this election? Are you hoping to pressure or inspire some action from the State? What I’m asking is, why should we tell our readers to stand for election and/or to get out and vote? What makes it a meaningful exercise?"

There was no response prior to publication. 

In short (excuse the pun), the vote being promoted by the Main Street WIRE and the Common Council is a bogus, meaningless exercise, an effort to win leverage for Short to promote the tired old self-government issue that few residents care about, even fewer now that the Maple Tree Group is finally aging out.

Communications within the Common Council suggest that Short advanced the vote as a referendum as well as a nominating election, which she knows is useless. The referendum seems aimed at trashing sitting Board members, especially David Kraut, who have shown little inclination to go along with the Maple Tree Group's worn out agenda and are not likely to in the future.

Leave this time wasting nonsense to the Main Street WIRE and the Common Council, which seems to have little else constructive to do. Make your vote count by not casting it.

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