I Called RIOC’s Board a Cephalopod. That was Unfair… to the Octopuses


Calling RIOC’s deficient board a cephalopod was wrong, I realized. It was an insult to octopuses and squids. Among their species exist impressive qualities the board can only dream about. Yes, both parties are spineless.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Let’s start with longevity. But first a word of caution. None of this refers to the actual living beings we know and even love when they are not under the thumb of the governor’s handlers in Albany.

To serve on the board, members must have chameleon-like skills.

Most octopuses live no more than three years. But some, not all Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) board members may be eternal. Cephalopods sense when their useful life nears an end. This quality is not apparent among RIOC’s alleged governing body.

Ollie the Octopus at the Ocean Lab
Ollie the Octopus at the Ocean Lab by ceridwen is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

Cephalopods versus RIOC Board Members

  1. Octopuses have lively personalities. They love interacting with people who visit their pools, clinging to them with suckers that taste and explore fingers, hands and even arms. While in the thrall of Albany, RIOC board members have the personalities of kneecaps. (Reference: Any recording of a meeting on their website.) Their interest in other people is too small for detection with modern instruments
  2. Octopuses are so curious they are always looking to escape the tank and head out for an adventure. RIOC board members look perfectly content taking root in a wooden chair.
  3. Cephalopods are creative. These impressive animals have figured out how to remove the tops from their tanks and run away. One squid learned to maneuver a magnet inside his tank so that an externally mounted piece of equipment fell to the floor. He did it repeatedly, apparently in pursuit of attention. In more than six years of watching, the only board member I can recall using the slightest creativity was Dave Kapell. He wanted to reinvent the Motorgate Atrium. All that came of it was a power wash and new doors.
  4. Octopuses are so smart they operate eight arms with numerous suckers on each, multitasking among unrelated activities without a hitch. A RIOC board member can be immobilized by offering them a stick of chewing gum. But the really odd thing is that this does not affect their production.

Apologies to the Cephalopods

The similarities in spinelessness were too tempting, but I should have looked further.

Octopuses and squids use their spinelessness for ingenious purposes, meeting challenges in the sees and in laboratory tanks. For RIOC board members, it’s not a natural attribute but a result of surrendering to the governor’s demands.

After a while, research may show, they lose all awareness of who they are and what they’re supposed to be doing.

To the amazing cephalopods of the world, I apologize for the unfair comparison.

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