Editorial: Tasting Democracy

For Islanders, it’s a rare brush with democracy.

Not to rain on Hillary’s parade, but we’d like someone to notice, in the course of all this, that Roosevelt Island lacks a layer of democratic government – the local one that impacts lives every day.

If you’re an old hand here, you can skip the next paragraph. But there is no better moment in which to make our point yet again:

While we help elect a City Council Member, a Member of the State Assembly, and a Member of the State Senate, none of those elected officials has any power here. All power rests with an unelected President of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC), who is not even controlled effectively by a Board of Directors, each member of which is currently subject to instant dismissal by the governor, who has failed to appoint anyone to the Board in the last four years – none since he appointed a non-resident whose portfolio was rife with conflicts of interest. That person left the Board and his appointment as headmaster of The Child School when the empire that he was building, staffed in notable part with family and close friends, fell apart after a careful State look at the school’s financial records.

All this means that Roosevelt Islanders have no ballot-box say in the operations of this community. It means that the only “control” on the governor’s appointed RIOC president is an unpaid part-time Board whose members are beholden to her and her boss for their Board seats. She recently fired RIOC’s Vice President for Legal Affairs without consulting Board members, even while telling the departing VP that his dismissal was the wish of the Board.

This is normal management turned upside-down.

This is “democracy” turned upside-down and inside-out.

If Governor Andrew Cuomo chooses to show his face at Hillary Rodham Clinton’s event next Saturday, he should wear his perpetual “guilty-of-something” look. In this case, he’s guilty of ignoring and failing to deal with Roosevelt Island’s lack of democracy.


Tags: Editorial Dick Lutz

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