David Stone

"We need to talk," he said. "Briana got me again." He was talking about WIRE Editor Briana Warsing, and Charlie DeFino finally had enough. It also sparked a protest to the WIRE's owner, Dr. Jack Resnick, who's allowed the community newspaper to become a biased cesspool since the departure of Dick Lutz.

A recent article that slandered another Island resident.
A recent article that slandered another Island resident.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

You can't be blamed if you thought items published in the Main Street WIRE were researched carefully and a variety of opinion sought to provide balance and broader insight. But that's not always the case.

As we've seen recently when she approached select groups with leading questions about Westview privatization and protests over Mandana Beckman's performance as Principal at PS/IS 217, Editor Briana Warsing publishes some articles under her own byline, as the majority at the WIRE are, that are little more than collections of gossip and innuendo.

Because they fear additional harassment and shaming, in and out of print, Warsing's targets normally decline going public with their real names.

This time, it's different.

Main Street WIRE Attack

"Hi,

"Just researching a story on the Roosevelt Island Youth Program after school. I was referred to you by people who told me you have kids in the program. I received confirmation from the Office of Children and Family services that RIYP is not licensed to provide an after school program with any kind of programming. They were served with a cease and desist order on October 3. Apparently RIYP sent a letter to parents letting them know. Just checking in to see if that’s true and you’ve been made aware.

"Please let me know.

"Briana"

Warsing sent the above email message to a select group of parents. It's not just designed to gather information.

It also conveys information about which the parents might not be aware and are likely to take seriously because they assume the WIRE's editor holds to conventional newspaper standards. That is, that she tells the truth and relies on facts.

The trouble is, Warsing didn't, and the potential damage to reputations at the Roosevelt Island Youth Program, which has served the community for more than twenty-five years, is incalculable. 

Even if the story never runs, it leaves a scar.

"I received confirmation from the Office of Children and Family services that RIYP is not licensed to provide an after school program with any kind of programming," Warsing wrote to an unidentified number of Roosevelt Island parents.

She calls up official authority to promote a falsehood.

"This kind of reporting by the WIRE is corrosive to the community," Frank Farance responded in an open letter to Dr. Jack Resnick, who the WIRE identifies as its owner.

The actual facts are not complicated.

Briana Warsing last month at Cornell Tech
Briana Warsing last month at Cornell Tech
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

The Roosevelt Island Youth Program, managed by Charlie DeFino, had a school age child care (SACC) license that covered 645 Main Street and 506 Main Street. The group has filed an address change. The issue for NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the agency responsible for SACC registrations, is that the address had not yet been transferred to the 506 Main location, a minor concern.

(The City defines a SACC program as "a non-residential child care service for a group of seven or more school age children from kindergarten to under 13 years of age.")

According to DoHMH and the Office of Child Family Services, RIYP is permitted to operate a Single Purpose program, which they are presently operating with DoHMH approval, until their Multi-Purpose program address change has been processed.

Also, contrary to what Warsing told parents, RIYP is permitted to operate without SACC licensing for children 14 and older.

Simply, the truth is not what the Main Street WIRE's Editor told numerous people it is.

And the ongoing bias supporting this casually and recklessly creates unnecessary threats to other Island groups with its "take no prisoners" approach.

The Child Center of New York, PS/IS 217's new provider for its after school Beacon program, also does not appear to have a SACC license and neither do other vulnerable local programs.

Warsing's style seems unconcerned with who and how many are thrown under the bus in digging for dirt against the Roosevelt Island Youth Program.

Conclusion

There are serious racial and political undertones rumbling beneath the surface in this dispute, but we will leave that for a future article.

Here, we're concerned with the "corrosive" conduct of the Main Street WIRE specifically as it affects the RI Youth Program. 

In a message to Dr. Resnick, Farance writes, "there is an ongoing journalistic bias in the WIRE that distorts the truth and, in the latest case, clearly reached the level of defamation and damage to RIYP by the WIRE's reporting and editorial control: it appears the WIRE exposes itself to legal action.

"I'm asking that you take my concern seriously and seek to affect change. Years ago, Dick Lutz appointed an Ombudsman in reaction to legitimate concerns over the WIRE's reporting. However, today with Briana and (Managing Editor) Kelly (Turner), the bias is so blatant and obvious and all with similar kinds of bias, as you can see from Briana's writings, that I believe stronger action is required by you as publisher/funder of the WIRE."

Many will echo Farance's request to Dr. Resnick, "I strongly suggest that you reign in your staff."

Corrective action also needs to be taken to help the Youth Program as well as others allowed to be openly attacked in WIRE recover. That calls for "fessing up" in the newspaper and coming clean.

It remains to be seen whether or not Resnick will do what's necessary to rescue what was once a reliable and trustworthy institution here or will let it slide further into bias, innuendo and malicious gossip.