Charlene Indelicato is leaving her post as Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) President, starting a new job on April 4, nearly three years to the day after starting her term here.
What Happens Next?
When the RIOC Board of Directors meets at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, they’ll be asked to vote for appointment of current Vice President and General Counsel Susan Rosenthal as Acting President and CEO.
According to the RIOC bylaws, (Article IV, Section 2), “The officers of the corporation shall be elected by resolution at a regular meeting of the Board. Each officer shall hold office, unless removed, until his or her successor shall have been elected. Except as otherwise provided in the Act, a vacancy in any office shall be filled by the Board.” The RIOC enabling legislation, codified in 1985, gives the Corporation the authority to appoint the corporation’s officers. According to the RIOC website, the first RIOC Board and President were appointed by the Governor in 1986.
The next scheduled RIOC Board meeting is next Thursday (March 10). Will a successor be elected at that meeting? Board member Margie Smith said, “I can’t say with certainty what role the RIOC Board of Directors will have in hiring a replacement for Charlene [Indelicato] until we all meet and discuss it more thoroughly, which will happen shortly.”
Smith said, “What I hope will happen is that the State will do a search to find qualified candidates [from within State government], do some initial vetting, then give the board members at least three candidates to interview. If one is appropriate, the search is over. If not, we’d look outside [State government] for candidates and again interview at least three people before selecting anyone.”
If history is an indicator, it doesn’t always work the way the laws say it should. Before Indelicato, there was a six-month vacancy after Leslie Torres left the office. RIOC Counsel Donald Lewis served as president in an acting capacity throughout that time.
The RIOC Board of Directors did not conduct an executive search or interview multiple candidates before settling on Indelicato. She was nominated for the post of President by Governor Andrew Cuomo and confirmed by the Board. Three resident board members abstained on the vote: Kathie Grimm, Michael Shinozaki, and Margie Smith withheld their approval.
As the reason for his abstention, Shinozaki said, “…the Board voted, on the record, as a matter of public policy, that we would conduct a formal search, and that was completely disregarded.” He agreed Indelicato was an “excellent candidate,” but said, “I have some very strong objections to the way this candidate was brought to the Board, completely untransparent to the community and a violation of the Board’s directive.”
Grimm’s objection was similar. She said, “I’m disappointed there wasn’t an executive search with proper references being checked.”
Smith said, “I think this Board would not buy a lawnmower without three bids. I think it’s unconscionable to hire someone without having interviewed at least three candidates.”
While no Board members objected to Indelicato specifically, they faulted the process. Even those board members who voted yes to her appointment made it clear that they were doing so because the seat had been vacant far too long. Board member Howard Polivy said, “I think it’s unfortunate that we have reached this pass. It is unconscionable that the State apparatus, knowing our need, moved so slowly.” Board member David Kraut said, “We haven’t had a president for some time and a very viable candidate has been offered to us.”