The Maple Tree Group Stays Angry

Targeting RIOC, Joyce Short Sends the Common Council On a Silly Slide

David Stone
Governor Andrew Cuomo, as Depicted by Joyce Short
Governor Andrew Cuomo, as Depicted by Joyce Short
Credit: Pixabay / CCO Public Domain

It isn’t easy, not by any means, developing content for a daily newspaper. It’s even harder to lessen the load with humor; so, I it tickles me no end when folks like Joyce Short toss up political credos like this one: “The days of Dutch India are over.”

Look, it may be complete bullshit, but at least, it’s funny.

The Days of East India Are Over

Funny but oh, so true! The days of East India ended, by historian’s estimate in 1825 when the authority of the Dutch East India Company was lost in Mumbai and Malabar.

What’s it got to do with Roosevelt Island? Hold your horses there, Nelly. We’re getting to that.

Okay, so in an impassioned speech, imploring residents to waste time, energy and goodwill on a loopy Common Council vote for a non-election, transcribed in full by the Roosevelt Islander (God bless Rick’s heart.) Short explained, “That mentality died with the Dutch India Company who initially settled New York.”

If you passed eighth grade English grammar, you probably noticed the mistake right away. Short thinks the Dutch India Company was a person, as indicated by “who.”

Besides, the Lenape and the English might quibble with the claim, but more important, to what mentality is Ms. Short referring?

(Hint: What are the chances a Dutch company would have named their development in honor of a future King of England?)

“Nowhere in the US Constitution does it make a provision for government by ‘Public Benefit Corporation,’” Short declares, referring to “what we have,” that is, RIOC, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation.

She’s right there. We do have RIOC, but she’s wrong about the Constitution. She was also wrong the first time she positioned herself as a constitutional scholar and, then as now, got a free pass with it from the indiscriminate Main Street WIRE.

As we learned during junior high American History classes when I was in school, our Constitution leaves all powers not expressly set aside for the federal government to the States. It has nothing to say about community development nor local governance. Therefore, class, that leaves that authority with the states.

With roots deep in English common law and Dutch law, public benefit corporations have been a factor in New York since before it was a state or the U. S. a nation. There are over a thousand of them at the present count.

As well, the Dutch India Company was 1) never in New York and 2) not a public benefit corporation. It was an investor owned and publicly licensed real estate company. Think of them as a precursor of the developers of Levittown.

So, What’s Got Joyce Short So Pissed?

Well, plenty, but she sums it up by implying, not so subtly, that the rest of us are ignoramuses who miss the big, dystopian picture, which she is happy to show us (but doesn’t).

“On the surface,” she commences with a cynical sneer, “Roosevelt Island seems like an idyllic, peaceful community. But a closer look reveals an undemocratic and probably unconstitutional, under belly that harms our quality of life.”

Democracy and its variations is a camp favorite with Short and the Maple Tree Group, which she represents, never mind that the democracy for which she advocates is really populism, the same mob rule that got Trump a seat in the Oval Office.

As vertebrates, we learn best by watching, absorbing examples. You know, “monkey see, monkey do?” 

Short did not miss the example set by Mr. Trump:

“You think things are so great? It’s only because you’re not smart enough to see the ruination of your world that I see,” is a paraphrase for both Trump’s and Short’s pitch.

Then, the Shitstorm Sprang Forth 

“As we look around,” Short rails — unclear about who else is included in “we” — “we see vacant storefronts and recreational fields where our resident kids can’t play because the fields are rented out to the highest corporate bidder. And while our Public Safety Staff guards the Cornell/Tech Development, on our dime, a mother is attacked by a pot smoker behind our public school.”

With hardly time to catch her breath, she rails on, “As if that’s not bad enough, our RIOC President, Susan Rosenthal, says we don’t need more Public Safety Officers, even when confronted by the fact that our Public Safety Chief, Jack McManus, says they lack the manpower to check exterior building doors during his staff’s vertical patrols. Rosenthal also wants to charge off each Island non-profit’s ‘in-kind use of RIOC space’ against our Public Purpose Funds. And she expressed her desire to put out RFPs on all Island services like the Garden Club and the PTA’s market.”

 I can’t speak for anyone else, but I got lost in that frantic jungle. 

“What’s wrong with this picture!” she concludes.

Well, apart from  it’s needing a question mark, it’s incoherently rambling, misleading and riddled with half-truths. Like Trump, right?

Although she didn’t come up with a thing that bothers most of us, her high pitched anger makes it sound like aliens are not just at our borders, they’re here.

And she’s going to tell us who they are, too. No pussyfooting around here.

Trashing Susan Rosenthal and the RIOC Board

Just for fun, let’s start with a little quiz. 

If you have a RIOC President who preaches openness and invites anyone to pop in with a grievance or a comment, how do you get him or her to lock their doors and start wearing a Groucho Marx mask in public?

Easy.

You abuse their openness by quoting — or more likely misquoting — them out of context and inviting public ridicule.

According to Short, RIOC President Susan Rosenthal “will tell you,” that: “This election is ridiculous! I’m not in favor of it. The Governor can select anyone he chooses. He doesn’t need the community’s input. And I work for the Governor!”

Having chatted with Rosenthal several times, in both agreement and disagreement, I can tell you that the only part of that statement that rings true is the part about Joyce Short’s RIOC elections being ridiculous, as of course they are.

Short’s election gambit is something like asking those of us unhappy with the current administration to come out and vote again so she can tote the results up to the powers that be and demand a change based on the results.

Ain’t gonna happen, as they say.

“Governor Cuomo ignored our last vote,” Short notes.

Really? How could he?

We’ll skip for now that shabby manipulation of voting practiced by the RIRA/Maple Tree Group that may have led to discrediting them. Let’s just say that Andrew Cuomo sent the Common Council a message. It was concise and clear, but Joyce Short must have missed that class.

How will Short’s characterizing his appointees as “hand-picked demagogues” help in winning him over?

“We will not be silenced,” she declares, a body blow to the optimist in me.

Short’s inferred slams of the RIOC Board aren’t worth covering. I’ll just point out that Kraut, Smith, Christian, Polivy and Shinozaki work their butts off as volunteers. They receive no benefits nor are they awarded for any allegiance to the governor. Technically speaking, crapping on them stinks.

I once hoped that the Maple Tree Group and its pathetic efforts to take over Roosevelt Island and run it out of Rivercross had aged out. Now, I am dismayed. Short carries on the tradition.

Conclusion

Led recklessly by Joyce Short, the Common Council is seeking a strategy enabling it to cripple community relations with RIOC. Although it will fail, it will get all kinds of ink (with apologies to Prince) in the limp rag previously known as the Main Street WIRE.

Ignore it.

If you vote, it won’t count for anything. Governor Cuomo is as likely to be irritated as influenced. More likely, he won’t be phased or even notice. Neither should you.

RIOC is not without faults. We’ve taken them to task here and will continue to. But that’s not the point nor will Short’s elections change anything for the better.

What this election will do is waste time, energy and trust.

I have an online rule aimed at separating me from the flood of fake news and hateful nonsense: Don’t Feed the Trolls.

Voting in Joyce Short’s Maple Tree Group elections would clearly amount to feeding the trolls.

One word: Don’t.

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