A Curious Case

Main Street WIRE Didn't Want Me. So, Why Do They Keep Following Me Around?

David Stone

Is the Main Street WIRE stalking me or just scrambling to keep up?

Main Street WIRE dumped in a commercial doorway.
Main Street WIRE dumped in a commercial doorway.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

When I read the unattributed editorial, Not Just a Newspaper, in this week's Main Street WIRE, memories flooded back of the day, only a little over a year and half ago when Webmaster Jeff Prekopa and I explained to then exiting Editor Briana Warsing how we planned to reinvigorate the WIRE's website.

And it took only that much time for Warsing to bring our idea to reality. Bravo!

Warsing's tardiness didn't come as a big surprise. That day, she kept Prekopa and me idling for an hour, nursing sodas at Riverwalk Bar & Grill, for a good reason: she decided to squeeze in a jog while we waited.

In the summer of 2016, after Owner Jack Resnick, Editor/Publisher Dick Lutz and Warsing broke our agreement to take over the WIRE, largely because Warsing changed her mind about following her husband to California, they seized on my idea to change from door to door distribution to direct mailing.

My reasoning was that the rickety system Lutz patched together depended on cheating Rivercross out of payments for use of the space and exploited volunteers into working for next to nothing while WIRE insiders were handsomely rewarded. Both sucked, in my opinion.

In the newspaper, Warsing came up with another reason for going to direct mail, but what the heck? I'm into giving her credit for stealing a good idea, even if she won't admit where it came from.

Now, after the WIRE stiffed Prekopa on expected payments for services, without notice, in conjuring a new website, the gang has copied two of my biggest ideas for transforming the WIRE, making it Twenty-First Century worthy.

My third idea, which I was not as vocal about, got a different kind of attention.

They copied it too, but inside out.

Content

My sales manager used to have a slogan, "It's all about the customer." Since we were trying to make money, it really wasn't, but it was a good model for how to do things the right way, even when we didn't.

In the newspapering business, it's all about the content.

It really is.

When we launched The Roosevelt Island Daily, I was concerned about having enough to write about. I loved the idea of reporting without dodging the WIRE's traditional biases, but was there enough going on?

There was, and more, I gradually realized from wandering around, sitting in on meetings and listening to people shut out of the conversation.

I should not have been surprised when the WIRE starting repeating much of what I wrote and using my ideas.

Renwick designed Smallpox Hospital
Renwick designed Smallpox Hospital
File photo

Except there was a twist.

After I published Tear Down the Renwick Hospital Ruins, just shortly after getting started, the WIRE raced down to FDR Four Freedoms Park and got someone to talk about how much the Conservancy loved the ruins and wanted them to stay. Skipped the main issue, Who's going to pay for it? But that's the WIRE too. 

Over the last year, it continued and even got worse.

A couple of recent examples are instructive.

Campaign to Get Rid of Mandana Beckman

We published Mandana Beckman You Have To Go. Warsing countered with a defense that involved, of all things, attacking the First Amendment right to freedom of expression, you know, the one that makes newspapering possible.

She wrote in a thread on the Roosevelt Island Parents' Network:

"Hi Parents,

"I don't know if you've seen these signs. We were first told about them on Saturday. Then we heard that that they were all taken down. On Sunday evening, a bunch more went up, were taken down, and and the below photos are from today.

"Would just like to hear your reactions to these photos (Five were posted on the RIPN thread.) for a story about them I am writing in the WIRE. Do they offend you? Are you okay with them? Do you approve of this form of expression? What do you think is the goal? Etc.

"Please respond to me directly."

That's right, Warsing promoted her business (supposedly forbidden on the Network) while asking parents if they approved of the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of expression.

As you might guess, she followed our article about the posters by lining up Council Member Ben Kallos, RIOC President Susan Rosenthal and Common Council President Jeffrey Escobar to join her in intimidating protestors by characterizing them as criminals.

Mission accomplished. The protesters were frightened into silence.

Westview Privatization Story

Main Street WIRE Didn't Want Me. So, Why Do They Keep Following Me Around?

After we published an article about a growing hazard created by RIOC's stalling at negotiations for Westview's Mitchell-Lama exit, this email quickly followed to a select group of Westview tenants:

"Hi Westview friends,

"The WIRE is interested in following up on our more process oriented Westview stories (first about the red herring, and then the vote) with one about you, the tenants, and how this waiting game is impacting you.

"Many of you have been in Westview for upwards of 35 years, and have waited a long time to own your apartment.

"Are any of you happy it's taking so long, maybe you're not ready to make a decision, or haven't saved enough money? Are you miserable in limbo? Are you eager for the deal to pass because you are ready to own your apartment? Are you hoping for a better or different deal?

"I do know that many Westview residents do not want to speak on the record. We published an anonymous letter from a Westview resident a couple of issues ago. Can you explain what the concern is?

"We will also reach out to the Task Force, the state, and RIOC for this, to see if they have any explanation for why this is taking so long.

"Thank you - looking forward to talking with you.

"Kindly,
"Briana Warsing"

A friend forwarded the letter: "Thought you’d be fascinated."

"Why doesn't she just follow me around? This has happened many times."

I couldn't resist adding, "Can you see how stupidly she leads with her questions, reaching for an answer she wants? Amateur and cheesy."

"Yes, those cheesy questions, despite the fact that the tenants overwhelmingly voted for the deal."

A Trend Continues

After the WIRE wasted ink last spring by reacting similarly to everything I wrote about the ultra bogus RIOC Nominating Elections and responded, lately, like a warped mirror with a defense, buttressed with fictions, of the Roosevelt Island Seniors Association, we aren't surprised about their following us around anymore.

I do wish though that, after Resnick, Lutz and Warsing punctured my hopes by breaking our agreement, they'd at least have the courtesy of not copying my ideas without giving me credit.

Wanna bet they don't?

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