David Stone
Emily Diaz appealed to RIOC's Board to save the Youth Program, last spring. Margie Smith (R) resigned soon after this session.
Emily Diaz appealed to RIOC's Board to save the Youth Program, last spring. Margie Smith (R) resigned soon after this session.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

This time, it wasn't just a committee. "...the meeting of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation Board of Directors previously scheduled for Wednesday, February 13th, 2019 has been canceled," RIOC announced without explanation or reschedule date. It's critical now.

As we reported on Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo's failure, since his first years in office, to appoint new Board Members to manage RIOC created an artificial crisis that now blocks the State agency from conducting routine business.

A standard notice included in RIOC's announcements explains: 

The Open Meetings Law of the State of New York requires that all public bodies conduct meetings, convened for the purpose of officially conducting public business, in a manner open to attendance by the general public to observe and listen.

That makes good operations as well as dysfunction fully visible.

Committee meetings such as this one cannot conduct business without a quorum
Committee meetings such as this one cannot conduct business without a quorum
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Now, after six months of executive exits, a crisis predicted by Island activists for most of a year adds to the challenges of an administration aggressively focused on infrastructure upgrades and realigning how RIOC does business.

There are so few Board Members left, after 2018 resignations by Margie Smith and Fay Christian, that a single absence denies a quorum necessary to conduct business.

Without a quorum, RIOC cannot make major purchases, agree to contracts, make executive hires or pass a budget.

As it stands now, the Board consists of two ex officio members, State agency heads who are there by virtue of the office, and three residents: Michael Shinozaki, Howard Polivy and David Kraut.

If any one of them is unable to attend a meeting for any reason - illness, job demands, family issues - the quorum of five needed to legally conduct business is impossible.

While the current crisis is believed to be caused by health issues with David Kraut, in the past six months, Shinozaki missed time with a leg injury that left him in a wheelchair temporarily and is still not healed.

David Kraut at a committee meeting in 2018. With the exception on Mike Shinozaki, second from left, everyone else has since left RIOC.
David Kraut at a committee meeting in 2018. With the exception on Mike Shinozaki, second from left, everyone else has since left RIOC.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

To add new Board Members, Cuomo must nominate them for approval by the Senate. Extensive background checks must be made and, if approved, extensive training in the ways of New York State government and RIOC specifically must take place. The process is hobbled by the need for the State legislature to get a budget in place by April 15th while dealing with shortfalls in collections due to federal bumbling.

Neither RIOC nor the Governor's office has announced actions aimed at solving the crisis.