Roosevelt Islander Online: Roosevelt Island Lost A Bit More Democratic Representation Yesterday – Former Resident David Kappel Chooses To Remain On RIOC Board With Approval Or Indifference Of New Governor Kathy Hochul

During the September 30
Four Freedoms Democratic Club
Roosevelt Island meeting at
The Sanctuary Event
Space and Cafe, Roosevelt Island
NY State Senator Jose Serrano
was asked:

… There is alot of concern about the way the RIOC Board is appointed by
the Governor…

… do you think there is an opportunity  for better Roosevelt Island
representation on RIOC now that it is no longer Governor Cuomo but Governor

Senator Serrano replied:

 …  I’ve been trying to find ways to get to get more
representation from Island residents on that board.

I even carry the bill that the the head of RIOC should be an Island

… As elected officials, we live in our districts and we can get to see
what is going on and know what’s important so I do believe that we have a
great opportunity to fix a lot of these issues. We have no shortage of
amazing opinions from Island residents as to how we can move forward and
bring better democracy to the island. 

…  it’s my intention to have some really important and meaningful
conversations with the Governor to make sure that she understands that we
need to really focus on Roosevelt Island. 

It shouldn’t be an afterthought…

Roosevelt Island democratic representation suffered another setback yesterday
when 1 of two Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board Directors who are no longer Roosevelt Island residents,
David Kapell,
chose to remain on the Board with the apparent approval, or indifference, of
Governor Hochul and

RIOC announced yesterday:

Jeffrey Escobar is tendering his resignation from the Board of Directors of
the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation due to his change in residency.
Confirmed by the Senate on June 20, 2019, Mr. Escobar held one of five
public member board seats designated for Roosevelt Island residents. RIOC
truly appreciates Mr. Escobar’s service and contributions to the RIOC Board
of Directors and the Roosevelt Island community. His presence and input will
be greatly missed. 

David Kapell remains a duly appointed member of the Board of Directors of
the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation. Confirmed by the Senate on June
20, 2019, Mr. Kapell holds one of the two public member board seats that do
not carry a residency requirement. RIOC’s board and the community as a whole
benefit from Mr. Kapell’s dedication to Roosevelt Island and we thank him
for his continued service.

Both Mr Kapell and Mr Escobar moved from Roosevelt Island about a year ago yet
remained on the RIOC Board until Mr Escobar’s resignation yesterday.

As reported September 30:

… I submitted a written question to the
September 29 RIOC Board of Directors
meeting Public Session held before the start of the meeting asking:

How many members of the RIOC Board of Directors, excluding NY State
Officials, are required by statute to be residents of Roosevelt Island?

Are any of the RIOC Board Directors, excluding the NY State Officials, not
residents of Roosevelt Island and if so, why are they members of the RIOC

Do all members of the RIOC Board of Directors, excluding the NY State
Officials, list Roosevelt Island as their primary residence on personal
tax forms? If no, who does not?…

RIOC General Counsel replied to my question during the Public Session:

I can briefly answer that question. 

We have two Board Members that currently do not reside on Roosevelt

I will say that Mr Kappel proactively on his own, when he determined that he
was no longer going to reside on the Island, reached out to the Appointments
Office to inquire as to whether his service would terminate or be in
jeopardy because of that decision. 

After consultation with the Appointments Department, he was told that based
on the law as it reads, he is not in violation of any rule or regulation or
law and his appointment may continue until such time of his replacement.

Mr. Escobar who also recently moved off the Island has also begun that same
process so based on those findings the RIOC Board Members are permitted to
serve until such time that they are replaced. 

As the law reads, continued residency is silent to that. So, they were both
appointed as residents when they became members of the Board and as far as
Appointments is concerned, their continued services is all right

Yesterday, I asked Ms Robinson and RIOC Public Information Officer Amy

RIOC claims that Mr Kappel holds 1 of two public Board seats that does not
require Roosevelt Island residency. 

Please show where in Mr Kappel’s appointment, he was designated in a Rioc
Board seat that does not require Roosevelt Island residency. 

Also, please show where Mr Escobar was designated as an appointment which
required Roosevelt Island residency. 

No answer received yet.

I asked Mr Kappel yesterday:

Do you have any comment on why you wish to remain on the RIOC Board of
Directors when you no longer live on Roosevelt Island?

No answer yet.

Earlier this month, I asked Roosevelt Island
NY State Senator Jose Serrano
and NY State
Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright
for comment on RIOC Directors remaining on the Board after moving away from
Roosevelt Island.

Senator Serrano replied:

Roosevelt Island is a diverse and tight-knit community, and local
representation on the RIOC board is critical to meeting the needs of its
residents. We are reviewing RIOC’s enacting statute and examining potential
options to strengthen this representation.

Assembly Member Seawright replied:

Residents of Roosevelt Island are entitled to have their voices heard. It’s
time to take a look at legislation that strengthens the residency requirement
so that diversity of opinion includes the viewpoints of the inhabitants of the

Roosevelt Island resident Matt Katz shares this message he sent to RIOC
President Shelton Haynes explaining the importance of RIOC Directors living on
Roosevelt Island and being members of the community:

 … Some of us still think that RIOC decision-making should be performed
by people with skin in the game, i.e. Roosevelt Island residents and we intend
to meet with Gov. Hochul and win her support.. Your efforts to include former
or part-time residents is an affront … to a community that demands to be
part of the decision-making process. It’s called democracy and we’d like some.

Here’s the current statute (effective 2019)
regarding RIOC Board of Directors:

2. The board of directors of the corporation shall be composed of nine
members. One member shall be the commissioner, who shall serve as the chair;
one member shall be the director of the budget; and seven public members shall
be appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate. Of the
seven public members, two members, one of whom shall be a resident of
Roosevelt Island, shall be appointed upon the recommendation of the mayor of
the city; and four additional members shall be residents of Roosevelt Island.
Each member shall serve for a term of four years and until his or her
successor shall have been appointed and shall have qualified, except that the
commissioner and the director of the budget shall serve so long as they
continue to hold their respective offices. Any action taken by the directors
of the corporation shall be taken by majority vote of the directors then in
office. The elected public officials who represent Roosevelt Island shall be
representatives to the board of directors of the corporation entitled to
receive notice of and attend all meetings of such board but shall not be
entitled to vote. Failure to give such notice shall not affect the validity of
any action taken at a meeting of such board….


Source link