Common Council Stunt Never Made Sense

RIOC Board Elections Fail: What Can We Learn?

David Stone
Resist the Nonsense
Resist the Nonsense
CCO Public Domain

Yes, buffoonery lives on Roosevelt Island, and the elections will be held next week even though, as with every Common Council Election in memory, there are not enough candidates to fill up the seats available, let alone compete for them. 

It can be argued that, in Joyce Short's Maple Tree Group-inspired initiative, every candidate is a winner as long as they get a single vote. More accurately, each one loses, wasting time and energy in support of Short's personal agenda.

The RIRA/Maple Tree Group Review, more commonly known as The Main Street WIRE, gave the five candidates for seven seats a full page to express their views. Each volunteer sports an impressive resume, including that of Michael Shinozaki who's already on the RIOC Board and apparently running symbolically. 

But each campaign rests on a false pretense - that the election will be meaningful in any way.

As we established a year ago, the Common Council of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association, fails in its most elemental responsibility of representing the community inclusively. They have zero outreach, and Council President Jeff Escobar, an attorney who ought to know better, can't bring himself to recognize a large section of the community's population he can see out his front door.

Try this test. Take time to ask the next five residents you meet, Who represents you on the Common Council? Chances are you can't answer that question yourself, and the results will tell you everything you need to know about the group's connections in the community.

The Common Council, awash in persona agendas, has little need for or interest in the community's point of view, and the community returns the favor. Common Council elections are ignored by over 85% of us, even when they park their voting booths so that you can't vote in any general election without navigating past them.

The RIRA/Maple Tree Group Review

The most recent issue of the former Main Street WIRE, gives Short liberty to push fictions. Short sports a, let's call it, relaxed relationship with the truth.

Without a shred of documentation, Short writes that some RIOC Board Members "would like to" resign, but if that were true, why haven't they? No contract holds them to the Board. Each is free and clear to walk away as Dr. Katherine Grimm recently did in pursuit of her personal values

Short's fantastic claim that RIOC President and CEO Susan Rosenthal told Board Members that their job is to "rubber stamp Albany's directives" is only believable if you have never met them. Anyone willing to believe that professionals like our neighbors serving without compensation on the Board would waste precious time to act as "rubber stamps" is, by default, a fool. I doubt even Short is foolish enough to agree.

Short reserves her most potent venom for David Kraut, the Board's longest serving member. After making her unsupported claim that "All directors have expressed their interest to remain or resign, except David Kraut," she chastises him for being "as silent on his intent as he has been in the past."

Short's established distaste for Kraut aside, the statement is patently false. In the first election to nominate RIOC Board Members, Kraut chose not to run, but he agreed to stay on as long as the Governor felt that his contributions were of value. Kraut, acting as a sort of elder statesman, serves as RIOC's institutional memory. He stores minutes of every Board meeting in the twenty-five years he has served and retains in memory the unrecorded nuances that gave decisions meaning.

Simply, no other person on Roosevelt Island is better qualified for the Board than Kraut. His contributions have been unselfish and generous. Along with his fellow Board Members, he deserves better than to be insulted as "rubber stamps" by the likes of Joyce Short.

Besides, I owe him two bucks he loaned me to buy Girl Scout cookies.

In conclusion, quoting Billy Connelly, "Don't vote. It only encourages them," that advice has never been wiser.

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