Come on, Mr. Kapell, Mr. Escobar, Grow a pair. Resign, now.

Come on, Mr. Kapell, Mr. Escobar, Grow a pair. Resign, now.

Resign, now. You are not Roosevelt Islanders, and in spite of the goofy rationale cobbled together by RIOC, your occupying seats on the RIOC board isn’t ethical. Grow a pair, and do the right thing.

By David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Dave Kapell, Jeffrey Escobar: Resign, now

Jeffrey Escobar, First RIOC Board Meeting
Jeffrey Escobar was widely admired for his service as president of the Residents Association Common Council, a non-paying job demanding work and commitment. But he no longer lives on Roosevelt Island and does not have the same involvement.

It’s clear, plain and simple.

Of the seven public members, two members, one of whom shall be a resident of Roosevelt Island, shall be appointed upon the recommendation of the mayor of the city; and four additional members shall be residents of Roosevelt Island.

RIOC Enabling Legislation, As Amended in 2006

The first qualification is met by Howard Polivy, appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. A second seat remains vacant, a likely result of Governor Cuomo feuding with Mayor di Blasio.

But the second condition, the “four additional members,” falls short because, today, there are only three: David Kraut, Michael Shinozaki and Conway Ekpo. Both Kapell and Escobar should resign now, emptying seats for residents. Maybe even a woman or two on the board for a change.

Why it matters…

Residency requirements for the board were a hard fought win, the law amended in 2006. A determined band of residents convinced the politicians that local representation made sense because it supported democracy. The phrase “taxation without representation” floating around was embarrassing.

And any fair-minded supporter of American values understands that local taxpayers must have a say in governing.

But not the next governor, Andrew Cuomo, lead a ten-year effort to abolish local democracy without changing the law. A cynical politician determined to get a board full of “Yes” votes, he let membership dwindle through retirements. Then, once those who sometimes spoke up, all women, were out, he nominated three men, replacing them.

Two of the new guys were Escobar and Kapell. Escobar was a welcome choice. He’d already volunteered many hours, serving on the RIRA Common Council. But Kapell? Nobody knew who he was, except Governor Cuomo. A successful businessman and politician in Greenport, he was also a predictable “Yes” for anything the governor rolled down from Albany.

Dave Kapell, in blue shirt and insulated vest, kept tabs on RIOC as early as January, 2018. Here, he witnesses the state overturn a local decision in favor of renewing a contract with the Roosevelt Island Youth Program. Soon after, RIOC took control, handing over management to Erica Spencer-EL and tripling the budget.

It’s Time: Resign, Now

One striking similarity among all three new members is that none of them put in much effort. They don’t appear at committee meetings where nuts and bolts business happens. And they only show up for full board meetings where they say “Yes” on every issue. And that’s because everything is either initiated or laundered through the governor’s office.

Local rule is nonexistent, these days. But the law says warm bodies must fill a quorum’s worth of chairs, making all the “Yes” votes legal.

For their own good, why should either Escobar or Kapell risk their reputations as professionals by taking part in this ugly charade?

And getting real, neither live on Roosevelt Island. Kapell never did full time, and Escobar packed up, more than a year ago.

Both are professionals with successful careers, but neither has feet on the ground here anymore. What they do have are rising profiles as squatters planted by a disgraced governor who used them for selfish reasons.

Both ought to resign, now, because Cuomo can’t do them anyone special favors anymore.

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