We’ve seen demands for change before on Roosevelt Island, lots of times. A few years back, an angry RIOC Sucks petition flamed out, but a current call for remaking RIOC feels more hopeful. Centered and practical, it’s fast gaining support among residents.
by David Stone
One thing setting this effort apart from others before it is its authorship. Community Board 8 member and Roosevelt Island Committee Co-Chair, Paul Krikler leads the effort.
“The residents of Roosevelt Island want a direct say in the oversight of how this place is run,” Krikler told The Daily. “There are a lot of people here who have great ideas for how this community can be better served.”
Here’s how the new petition reads on Change.org…
We Need a Functioning & Competent RIOC
We are asking for all RIOC Board members to be directly elected by residents of Roosevelt Island. We have had too many years of lackadaisical and ineffective management at RIOC. We need better oversight of RIOC.
The current administration is not functioning. The most senior members of RIOC Management are in litigation over their employment and are clearly no longer engaged in the management of RIOC for the benefit of the Roosevelt Island community. This situation is untenable and needs fixing.
There are a lot of staff at RIOC who do a great job for the community, including some very capable members of middle management. However, a number of senior administration officials appeared to have been hired without being appropriately qualified for their roles and without RIOC conducting a public executive search for the position.
With little promotion, the petition quickly gathered over one hundred signatures. (You can add yours here.)
Change in Context
Over the past two decades, a core group of Roosevelt Islanders have sought the improved democracy Krikler and others ask for here. During the Republican Pataki administration – the governor has always controlled RIOC, no matter what the legislation says – the Maple Tree Group successfully argued for mandatory resident membership on RIOC’s board.
Elections were held Island-wide, and the winners, save two who didn’t survive vetting, took seats on the board.
Although Democratic Governors Cuomo and, now, Hochul proved staunchly undemocratic, refusing to honor future votes, some leaders from MTG kept pressing.
Now, with the perseverance of Margie Smith, Matthew Katz and others, the democracy movement is regaining momentum.
But, reality intrudes…
Analogous to Country Joe McDonald exhorting the Woodstock crowd in 1969, “If you wanna end war and things, ya gotta sing loud,” Roosevelt Island needs to find its voice.
When, during the last legislative session, Governor Hochul vetoed two bills sponsored by Senator José Serrano and Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright that would have strengthened resident board membership and required residency for RIOC’s president, there was barely a whimper.
In that silence, neither legislator moved to override, even though both bills had passed both houses with veto-proof majorities.
Maybe this time, we can get more voices in the chorus.