One Down. Doing the Right Thing, Escobar Resigns from RIOC Board

One Down. Doing the Right Thing, Escobar Resigns from RIOC Board

As we asked in September, Jeffrey Escobar resigns from the RIOC board, respecting the ethical conflict of serving while not being a resident. But in a disingenuous message, RIOC president/CEO Shelton J. Haynes, another non-resident, says Andrew Cuomo supporter David Kappel is sticking.

By David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Jeffrey Escobar Resigns But, So Far, David Kappel Refuses To Go

In a statement attributed to Haynes, RIOC said, “Jeffrey Escobar is tendering his resignation from the Board of Directors of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation due to his change in residency.” That change happened over a year ago.

Regarding Kapell, the statement includes a falsehood: “Mr. Kapell holds one of the two public member board seats that do not carry a residency requirement.”

David E. Kapell Arrives for First RIOC Board Meeting
David Kapell, first RIOC board meeting in June, 2019.

First of all, Cuomo appointed Kapell as resident board member. But perhaps more importantly, there is no such thing as a board seat that doesn’t have a residency requirement. There are, in fact, only residency requirements with a couple of options. Here’s what the law actually says:

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 intent was for giving residents a clear majority on the board, but Cuomo subverted it by letting the board shrink by attrition unil only three resident members were left, decreasing their power. Then, he appointed guaranteed “Yes” votes, without consulting the community, one of them being Kapell.

RIOC’s resident board status today

  • Howard Polivy, resident, recommended by Mayor Bloomberg
  • Vacant, recommended by any mayor
  • David Kraut, resident
  • Michael Shinozaki, resident
  • David Kapell, non-resident
  • Conway Ekpo, resident
  • Vacant, resident

The board is now short at least one resident, and that tips the balance away the community. It does not meet the legal requirements for reaching quorum and has not for two years.

In over two years on the board, Kapell has never voted “No” on anything. Never a full time resident, he gave up an apartment in The Octagon because he didn’t like the rent renewal they offered.

In short, Kapell’s ongoing tenure, coupled with RIOC’s successful resistance to change, signal that Cuomo’s successor is, in spite of promises, more of the same.

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