RIOC’s October Board Meeting Finally Lands Now – in November

RIOC’s October Board Meeting Finally Lands Now – in November

Without explanation, RIOC abruptly canceled its October Board meeting, then finally rescheduled it for today. Mystery unsolved, but onward… Hope prevails that they will avoid September’s antagonistic chaos and actually do some business.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

November’s October Board Meeting

One of this meeting’s most concerning changes may have escaped notice were it not for the discerning eye of historian Judith Berdy. It involves the public comment section where board members used to sit stony-faced – unless someone irritated the former David Kraut, sparking a profane, insulting outburst – ignoring whoever stood in front of them.

But in September, new board member Ben Fhala broke protocol, insisting on responding to residents’ concerns. Other, longer-term members had already firmly established the residents’ concerns weren’t worthy of comment or even acknowledgment.

Fhala had them squirming in their chairs but maybe not this time.

If you can get by the confounding first sentence, take a gander at what’s been added:

“Public comment should be for the purpose of receiving comment, not to engage in debate or *colloquy with board members. The Chair will control the time and limit for each speaker.

So, there!

But no speakers went past any time limits previously set at 3 minutes. Will this muzzle Fhala as intended?

*Colloquy means conversation, but nobody knows why RIOC doesn’t just say that.

The Agenda

Here’s what the board has on tap:

  • NB-1 Dhruvika Amin – VP CFO Appointment
  • NB-2 Mary Cunneen VP COO Appointment
  • NB-3 Proposed Budget FY 2024-25 Presentation
  • NB-4 HVAC _Cooling Guard on call services_Contract
  • NB-5 MJH_Plumbing on call services_Contract
  • NB-6 NYPA Agreement Addendum
  • NB-7 Cameron Task Order Sportspark rev
  • Financial Statement for Sep 2023
  • PSD Reports Aug-Sept 2023
  • Presentation by POMA to Discuss the Tram Operations

Then, after the self-congratulatory President’s Report, the board will shoo everyone out before going into executive session and talking about litigation.


Things to watch for in RIOC’s October Board meeting…

In sequence, the first matter of concern for Roosevelt Island’s future is the permanent appointment of Mary Cunneen as Chief Operating Officer. Cunneen served as Acting COO for about the past year.

During that period, the state agency that never gets it wrong has bumbled through the worst twelve months on record. No- and low-show jobs bloat the budget, and the executive exodus continued. The place is a mess on her watch.

Cunneen has also been tied to the de-greening of Roosevelt Island, a mangled effort at evicting the Wildlife Freedom Foundation’s Southpoint Sanctuary, water fountain contamination with animal wastes and the much-maligned Swift Emergency Medical COVID Testing Site.

None of this matters. The wimpy board will approve the promotion, probably unanimously.

The Budget

Also expected to pass with flying colors is a cobbled-together budget package for 2024. Its legally required balance rests heavily on a 50% increase in Tram ridership, and they’re not kidding. RIOC’s deep thinkers are already deep in meditation over how to cram that many more in.

It also sustains the fantasy of 52 Public Safety managers and officers. They do this every year, even though their roster shows a staff of just 42, and nobody on the board has the gall to ask where the allocated funds for the 10 missing officers go.

Oh, and by the way, the spending makes a giant leap to just under $40 million without any hint of improvements justifying it.

There’s more but not worth pursuing because the board will approve this fiscal slop, probably unanimously.


If you’re still awake at the bottom of the business list, Leitner-POMA gets a green light for explaining why the Tram is the safest transportation in the world and none of the reports of passengers being thrown to the floor while others suffer nausea, vertigo and migraines are of any concern.

Roosevelt Islanders are just too sensitive.

Bets are open over whether anyone will justify the overcrowding and the PSD’s refusal to let a mom with two kids in a stroller use the elevator as promised.

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