Senator José Serrano’s disingenuous claims don’t cut it as RIOC board conflict deepens

Senator José Serrano’s disingenuous claims don’t cut it as RIOC board conflict deepens

As Jeffrey Escobar did the right thing as a nonresident, resigning from RIOC’s board of directors, State Senator José Serrano openly mislead the community about his role. The Roosevelt Islander blog reported his comments from a September 30th meeting.

By David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

State Senator José Serrano on His Role in RIOC Board Membership

Senator José Serrano on Roosevelt Island Day 2019

In a meeting of the Four Freedoms Democratic Club, Serrano is quoted saying, “I’ve been trying to find ways to get to get more representation from Island residents on that board.”

What did he leave out?

Although the governor appoints RIOC board members, they must be confirmed by the state senate. That’s Serrano’s realm, but he did not clarify his role. Did he or did he not vote for both Escobar and reluctant to leave nonresident Dave Kapell, based on their living on Roosevelt Island?

If he did, will he now request Kapell’s good faith departure?

But his follow up was worse…

According to the Roosevelt Islander, he added this: “I even carry the bill that the the head of RIOC should be an Island resident….”

That’s a lie.

He should have used the past tense because he dropped the ball when a chance of success arrived in 2018 and dropped it again when prospects got even better in 2020.

In consecutive legislative sessions, prior to 2018, Serrano joined assembly member Rebecca Seawright, introducing bills making residency mandatory for RIOC’s president. The bills had no chance of success because Republicans controlled the Senate. They passed the Democrat controlled assembly easily.

But when Democrats gained control of the Senate too, something strange happened. Neither Seawright nor Senator Serrano reintroduced the bills. Efforts by The Daily for getting an explanation met, instead, with a runaround.

By 2020, the state senate had a supermajority, meaning they could override a governor’s veto, if necessary. The assembly was strongly Democratic too, but again, the bills regarding residency were not introduced.

When asked about it during her reelection campaign, Seawright’s staff said they’d discuss it with Serrano. But they never got back to us about it, as promised.

As for Senator Serrano… When wrapping up an email exchange in August, his communications director asked us, “Please let me know if you need anything else.”

We did, we responded. We wanted an off the record meeting with Serrano “…about Roosevelt Island’s terrible circumstances and what he might do to help us out.”

We did not receive any response, and the circumstances have not improved.

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