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Stealing my ideas? Bad, but when it’s Republicans, yeck!


Stealing my ideas in a whirl of open exchange is an offense I got used to. It started early and was all Democrats. But then, a Trump supported Republican – Yeck!- stole one… That means protest. And action.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Farmers Market entrance with invisible Public Safety Department
The Roosevelt Island Farmers Market in Good Shepherd Plaza.

Stealing My Ideas, Part One

In the early months after starting The Daily, I thought about ideas for revitalizing Main Street. Pre-pandemic, pre-Shelton Haynes, the failing commercial strip was the biggest thing frustrating the community. We need more foot traffic, and there was that big empty space smack in the middle of town.

Pull the Farmers Market out from under the crumbling bridge helix and park it in Good Shepherd Plaza. All nearby businesses would benefit. I pitched it in an article, and not much later, there it was.

But RIOC never gave me a shout out or a nod. That’s okay. The only thing on which I ever agreed with President Reagan was his belief that there was no limit to what could be accomplished as long as nobody cares who gets credit. I still agree on that one.

But then, they went too far. Almost.

“Trouble in Mind”

One day, I brought my idea for staging a play by legendary playwright and Roosevelt Islander Alice Childress into RIOC President Susan Rosenthal’s office. We could do it in the Howe Theatre. Michael Rogers, who Childress mentored, came along as a potential director. “No budget,” Rosenthal lamented, but she didn’t slam the door.

A couple of months later, RIOC sent out a casting call for Trouble In Mind. Rosenthal had found some money and, without involving me, got the production going. When it was staged – a great success, as it turned out – she acknowledged my original idea.

But never to me, and I was left out.

Then, It Got Serious – And Political

Politicians do all sorts of things to get attention, especially when an election draws near. Such it was when Sate Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright filched my effort at saving the Wildlife Freedom Foundation’s animal sanctuaries.

Seems newly empowered RIOC acting President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes or someone on his staff got a burn on when WFF president Rossana Ceruzzi led a Save Our Shores protest, hoping to stop the demolition of Southpoint Park.

Although she was right – look at the Haynes-Langan Rock Farm – Ceruzzi’s effort failed. But it didn’t end there because RIOC Chief Counsel Gretchen Robinson abruptly unleashed a demand that WFF begin paying $400 monthly rent. It was unprecedented. RIOC had never charged any nonprofit rent for using its space, but Robinson played hardball.

No negotiations, she demanded in a text. Pay up or she’d shut every WFF sanctuary down in one month. WFF would be out of business, the animals being cared for endangered.

After we reported on it, including texts we discovered, Seawright got involved. RIOC’s actions were wrong, but not because of the bullying and outrageous demands. She objected to raising rent while the pandemic was on. Never mind that rent wasn’t being raised. It was being invented in apparent retaliation, something well-established in RIOC tradition.

RIOC backed off entirely, and a month later, Seawright was reelected. And I just kept typing.

But Stealing My Ideas by Trump-Backed Republicans Is Not Okay

Yesterday, reader and news junkie Sylvan Klein alerted me to an article about the Republican State Convention. Party leader Nick Unworthy attacked Governor Kathy Hochul with this:

“Meet the new boss, she’s exactly the same as the old boss,” he said. “Except she wears a skirt and heels.”

That was too much because, fed up with her failure to do anything to fix RIOC, her Roosevelt Island operation, I dubbed Hochul “Governor Andrew Cuomo-In-A-Dress.” I did it months ago. I even used the Who classic, Won’t Get Fooled Again, that Unworthy quoted.

Folks can disagree with journalist reports. Rosenthal and I tangled all the time. Same with Seawright. But with Trumpists, it’s another story. I don’t even want to contest ownership for this idea. Once its got the stain of Trump, it’s a goner. They can have it.

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