Janet Falk roasted RIOC’s board in a tour de force presentation that savaged the “ugly” RI Monument. It was as much an indictment of the board for negligence concerning resident opinions.
Janet Falk is a public relations specialist, and her writing and presentation skills are impressive. She is also “a representative of Southtown to the RIRA Common Council,” she said.
Falk took on RIOC’s board at their September meeting in the Public Comments session. It precedes the official agenda and does not become part of the record.
But what Falk had to say won’t be soon forgotten.
Falk started simply with a message that proved ironic.
“Believe it or not, I am here at the invitation of Susan Rosenthal,” Falk said.
Rosenthal is RIOC’s Board President and CEO, and Falk recalled a an email thread from May. “The subject was the re-installation of the RI Monument on Tram Plaza,” she continued.
“I had believed it was a temporary installation, a three-month trial, starting on October 8, which would have ended on January 8 of this year.”
It’s on the record…
Falk’s right. RIOC’s Real Estate Advisory and Development Committee, which has Yea! or Nay! authority over the monument, granted Hudson a three month trial.
Hudson President David Kramer, sponsor of the monument, listened to public comments, then got a go ahead based on the three month deal. He promised to take down the monument if “residents hate it.”
“But in fact, it was SEVEN months in May and is about ELEVEN months today,” Falk said, her emotions rising.
Falk argues that’s exactly the case as she roasted the RIOC Board in full.
“RIRA voted unanimously against the monument,” she reminded them. RIRA is recognized as the only body elected to represent Roosevelt Island residents exclusively.
Residents submitted comments against the monument, she said, and they were misplaced by RIOC executives. The board never looked at them.
RIOC flopped in promoting the unloved monument…
A jazz band played and a team tried to rally residents. It failed.
Falk roasted RIOC’s Board, laid a foundation, then demanded answers…
After constructing this background, Falk laid five questions at the board’s feet:
- On what date did the RIOC Board decide the “temporary” RI Monument would become permanent?
- What criteria were used to arrive at that decision of permanent installation?
- RIRA, as you may recall, voted overwhelmingly AGAINST the monument. What input did the residents have in that decision of permanent installation?
- When and how was this decision communicated to residents?
- What criteria and what process would reverse that decision?
Falk spoke and the board, virtually accused of negligence, sat silent.
When she wrapped up, David E. Kapell, a new member who shows signs of assuming a leadership role, broke ranks.
Kapell wasn’t ready to sign on to the “ugly” description, but he said he would take a look.
That willingness puts Kapell one step up on the rest of the board, one made up mostly of residents but followers in practice.
Since Margie Smith’s resignation, it’s rare to see a board member lock into resident concerns openly.
It was refreshing.