At RIOC Board Meeting, A Legal, Tap Dancing Defense

At RIOC Board Meeting, A Legal, Tap Dancing Defense

Already spineless, the RIOC board leaned on a tap dancing defense by chief counsel Gretchen Robinson at its October session. They sat speechless, bumps on a log, while community requests for information whizzed by.

By David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Is the RIOC Board Even Legal?

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This is not a member of the RIOC Board, but we understand the confusion. Photo by Alireza Zohoor Parvaz on

As we reported earlier, suggesting that two members should grow a pair and resign, the board fails to meet a minimum legal requirement. After the two, Jeffrey Escobar and David Kapell, moved out of Roosevelt Island, that left the board with four resident members. RIOC enabling legislation demands five.

Escobar honored his longstanding ethical commitment to the community and stepped down. Kapell, a Cuomo crony, remains a bump on a log, operating out of Greenport on Long Island. Governor Cuomo in a Dress… Kathy Hochul, ultimately responsible, turned a blind eye to both issues

A tap dance, first reported by the Roosevelt Islander blog, by chief counsel Gretchen Robinson diverted attention elsewhere. As is RIOC’s style, she chucked the decision north to the state agency’s Albany handlers.

Already setting a standard in mediocrity this year, declaring that…

  • Copyrights belong to the subject of the artwork, not the artist. (Mount Kilimanjaro and the Empire State Building rejoiced.)
  • Hudson-Related should get a free, five-year pass on contract requirements because, if they damaged RIOC property, it would be RIOC’s fault.

So, tap dancing around a thorny issue, instead of embracing nonsense, may be a step up.

The Roosevelt Islander, et al, Q&A that ran short of As

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Bump on a log, for example, display purposes only. Any resemblance to a RIOC board member is coincidental. Photo by Pixabay on

The Roosevelt Islander asked, “Please show where in Mr Kappel’s appointment by former Governor Cuomo, Mr Kapell was designated in a Rioc Board seat that does not require Roosevelt Island residency.”

Robinson responded with a non-sequitur. The NYS Appointments Office, she claimed, without evidence, “…… has confirmed and double confirmed and triple confirmed that Mr Kapell is serving in a legitimate seat and is not violating any regulation or rules or laws.”

But the Roosevelt Islander persisted, now going straight to Kapell who appeared to nap with his eyes open. “Why does Mr Kappel wish to remain on RIOC Board since he no longer lives here and is not affected by decisions made by the RIOC Board?”

Kapell could not be roused to respond. See the whole exchange in the video below.

Robinson clips off the Roosevelt Islander, but there’s more

Because RIOC under president/CEO Shelton J. Haynes continues a media and public blackout, an unnerving volume of questions hit the board. Robinson tap danced around three more offered by the Roosevelt Islander as if they didn’t exist. But they did:

  • What is the status of AVAC system. Why is it broken. I am told that there are holes in the tubes which need to be repaired. Is that true? When will it be fixed. 
  • Why is RIOC’s new Main Street office hidden behind frosted windows from the public. What message does that send to the community? 
  • Why was the Roosevelt Island media not invited to attend and report on this week’s Bank Town Hall meeting? I understand that three elected officials attended as well as 2 residents. Why was the media excluded.

Her not reading them was artfully ameliorated by the fact that none would be answered anyway.

But Matthew Katz’s fiery denunciation of Kapell lit the Zoom. A strong contributor in the push that persuaded Republican Governor George Pataki that amending RIOC’s enabling legislation made sense, Katz promised reaching out to Governor Hochul about “this violation of the statute.”

RIOC Board mute as resident complaints roll out…

According to the Roosevelt Islander’s report, Robinson registered additional concerns…

  • Recycling activities,
  • Climate Change mitigation efforts,
  • Waste Reduction Efforts,
  • When will Roosevelt Island Tramway be added to Google Maps,
  • Will Public Safety Officers patrol more and have more of an active presence and
  • Southtown Trash pick up

But only Climate Change earned any response from the board.

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