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An Insipid March Board Meeting, RIOC Delivers Smug & Silly


RIOC’s insipid March board meeting rolled out as predicted, relieved only by a couple of unintentional laughs and multiple absences. As reported yesterday, it was only a matter of show-up-and-vote-yes. That made it all legal, but there were concerns and a board member afflicted with the filibuster reflex.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

A RIOC March Board Meeting As Silly As It Was Smug

two assorted color padded chairs near side table
Empty Chairs were a feature at RIOC’s March Board Meeting/Photo by eric montanah on

Some might argue that every RIOC board meeting is essentially a gathering of empty seats, but that’s symbolic. The March board meeting, streamed on Zoom, had actual empty seats, and at least one was of concern.

The board’s longest-standing member, David Kraut was missing. As the Zoom opened, a conversation concerning his absence was in progress. Kraut has dealt with serious health issues in the past, and board members and staff were concerned over his not contacting them. The Daily will follow up if additional information arises.

The other absences, CFO John O’Reilly and President/CYA Shelton Haynes, Chief Counsel Gretchen Robinson attributed – without clarity – to health issues. These mattered because every item on the agenda fell under O’Reilly’s areas of responsibility and Haynes’s alleged history of unexplained absences.

The Agenda

As we reported yesterday, the agenda was modest. All three items passed unanimously, covering insurance plus AVAC maintenance and project management. As if filling a kids pool with hot air, board member Michael Shinozaki added meaningless content that was either idle chat or caused by the “Filibuster Reflex.”

The Filibuster Reflex is a recently noted impairment in which an afflicted individual can’t shut up and inevitably says something stupid. More on that later.

Also alarming was the failure of the board to stage a single committee meeting during the three months since the last full board meeting. So, the March board meeting sported three significant votes costing residents millions of dollars that were passed without any official prior board review.

How do you spell useless? Spineless doesn’t really cover it. With all but one board member doing nothing more than chucking in votes and and answering roll call, it’s a smug insult to the community. One wonders why Conway Ekpo even stays on the board because there is no evidence of his contributing anything other than rubber stamp “Yes” votes.

But Yes, the March Board Meeting Had a Dash of Unintended Humor

Some may not see the humor, but stepping up to the plate, board member and, for now, Chief Apologist Michael Shinozaki added unintentional levity to the comments part of the dreary show.

A half-dozen or so residents – including this writer – contributed critical comments read by Robinson. While the board usually sits on its thumbs, this time, Shinozaki took a few swings at the criticism.

  • Hilariously, he kicked off, responding to a complaint about filth, by blaming litter around the Island on… wait for it… “wind.”
  • Later, he led the charge in defense of RIOC’s failure at securing a bank by, among other things, noting that Roosevelt Island is in a river. Enlightening. Robinson pitched in that it wasn’t as if RIOC didn’t try, apparently seeking kudos for failure.
  • Finally, in yet another fiction-laden defense of the much criticized Public Safety Department, he questioned the accuracy of “bloggers'” – that’s us – reports of endless traffic safety violations. I would be happy to share my videos with Mr. Shinozaki as well as my experiences. Just this week, while I used the Good Shepherd Plaza crosswalk, a truck stopped, but an impatient biker raced past him down the middle of Main Street. A PSD officer, standing there with his hands in his pocket, did nothing. When I asked him about it, he shuffled away as if I was speaking Swahili. Thanks for the dark humor, Mike.

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