It’s tiresome, but an Over-the-Hill Gang that thinks they speak for all of Roosevelt Island is setting up private meetings with elected officials in Rivercross in which other legitimate, vital voices are kept out. Last week, they brought in Congressman Jerry Nadler. The side-by-side comparison – or merger – with RIOC is revealing.
by David Stone
The Over-the-Hill Gang Roots
It was like another era, only fifteen years or so ago. On one of my first assignments with the local newspaper on Roosevelt Island, I met with Steve Shane in his 591 Main Street office. Steve was RIOC’s President/CEO then, and in those days, the state agency was engaged with the community.
His big concern? Where would the community find its next generation of leaders? The old-timers who stood tall for the community – Patrick Stewart, Ron Vass, David Kraut – were aging out. And no one was lining up to replace them.
Whatever happened, the boat sailed a decade ago, and it sailed empty. Now, though, another generation struggles to forge a unified voice. A major obstacle in that movement is the refusal of a geriatric generation, a sort of rump parliament in miniature, that won’t invite them in, even after losing all impact as a voice for residents.
The Big, Bad Picture
Take a good, long look at the picture. Is this “Roosevelt Island” in anyone else’s eyes?
But it’s not just the average age.
- According to 2020 Census, Caucasians make up about 50% of the Island’s population. With this group, it’s more like 90.
- Asians are Roosevelt Island’s largest minority population. Try locating just one in this photo.
- Gender? We count 13 women with only six men. Among the men are Nadler and a blogger invited for softball coverage.
But the Over-the-Hill Gang has a bigger problem. Among its crew are two RIOC board members. That’s like sleeping with the enemy and liking it so much you invited friends.
Why Jerry Nadler?
A curious blunder by both RIOC last week and the Over-the-Hill Gang now: Jerry Nadler is a federal elected official. He has no political role in RIOC. Zero.
True, his predecessor, Carolyn Maloney, loved Roosevelt Island and brought the community money for seawall work and the beautiful linden rows in FDR Four Freedoms State Park.
But infrastructure money – much needed – found no place here. Instead, the broken record known as Matthew Katz regaled him with tales of how Roosevelt Island lacks democracy.
He pulled off the same stunt in 2021 when Chuck Schumer met with constituents in a Rebecca Seawright event. With roughly the same impact. That is, Schumer listened politely before letting Katz skitter back to the 1990s.
And a few days later, Nadler himself appeared just as comfortable with that other exclusive local club…
The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC).
Here, he helps President/CEO cut the Sportspark ribbon. Nadler met exclusively with Haynes and his team earlier in May.
As with the Over-the-Hill Gang, the Roosevelt Island rainbow ran short on colors.
There’s a joke about elitism. A comedian notes that Major League Baseball has a “World Series” during which it invites only one other country.
The difference here is that we have competing sets of elites, and neither stands up for the the real community of Roosevelt Islanders.