Strong-Shinozaki Signals Determination To Improve Working Relationship

After Blowback, Common Council President Pledges to Work With RIOC on PPF Process

Updated 39 weeks ago

In the face of criticism by Island House Common Council Alternative Frank Farance, RIRA President Lynne Strong-Shinozaki moved to calm the dispute. “We are looking forward to working with RIOC to improve the Public Purpose Funding process," she announced in a statement released to local media.

Common Council President Lynne Strong-Shinozaki in October.
Common Council President Lynne Strong-Shinozaki in October.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Consistent with promises to more effectively guide resident interests in the Common Council's relationship with the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation and tentative plans to meet monthly with RIOC CEO Susan Rosenthal, Strong-Shinozaki acted in apparent response to a protest by Farance over how RIOC decided to distribute Public Purpose Funds this year.

RIOC is allowed by State law to contribute up to 3% of its operating budget for efforts that support its mission to develop Roosevelt Island. The State agency asks the Common Council to advise on how the money gets shared among nonprofits, providing a general set of guidelines.

Angered at a decision by RIOC's Board to make minor adjustments in recommendations, increasing a grant to the Carter Burden Network by reallocating 5% across the board from other applicants," Farance fired off an email to RIOC, local media and State officials, protesting the decision

"I believe it is important to Stand Up for the process: there have been many things that have been corrupted within RIOC and on the Island," Farance wrote. "I felt that this RIRA PPG process would be respected for its independent evaluation, but that is not so. So for a measly $7000 extra to Carter Burden, you've now broken the process long-term.

"Lastly, I am writing this as an individual with independence (not representing the committee nor RIRA), and I am writing this because the lack of information (as reported by the WIRE, RI Daily, RI Blog) is misleading to the community and unfair to the other applicants who Played By The Rules."

Note: Farance participated as a member of the Common Council's Public Purpose Fund Committee and includes that experience as a key part of his arguments." 

RIOC President/CEO Susan Rosenthal agreed to work with Strong-Shinozaki on PPF fundamentals.
RIOC President/CEO Susan Rosenthal agreed to work with Strong-Shinozaki on PPF fundamentals.
Photo Credit: RIOC

Dismissing Farance's complaint, RIOC Vice President and Legal Counsel Jacqueline Flug disagreed with his contention that, unless the Committee process was defective, RIOC was bound to rubber stamp its recommendations.

"RIOC does not contend that the process, selection, evaluation or criteria were defective. You overlook the simple fact that the discretion, authority and responsibility to award these funds lies with RIOC and not RIRA."

Any State agency would be derelict if it handed over spending decisions to an outside source without exercising prudence.

While RIOC did not criticize the Common Council's procedures in arriving at its recommendations, others, including The Daily have.

Provincial Island politics clearly played a role in discriminating against CBN as an outsider resented for replacing a local organization as managers of the Senior Center. That was made clear by off the record comments by Committee members.

Also of concern were bizarre statements by Farance about profits CBN, a nonprofit 401(3)c corporation, had at its disposal, suggesting decisions were made based on gross unfamiliarity with how charitable organizations operate.

In the end, future Public Purpose Fund deliberations will be influenced, hopefully in a positive way, by the results of Strong-Shinozaki's and Rosenthal's commitment to working together to resolve inconsistencies. 


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