Do you want to sit on the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation Board?
RIRA is hosting an election, scheduled for April, to create a list of Island nominees to be considered by Governor Cuomo, and by Mayor de Blasio who is tasked with suggesting two appointments to the governor.
All seven of the non-ex-officio RIOC board seats are currently expired, and two are actually empty. (Longtime Island pediatrician Dr. Katherine Grimm recently resigned from the board, and a non-resident board member who was appointed in June 2011 resigned in 2013.)
Board members must be officially appointed by the Governor of the State of New York with the advice and consent of the Senate. RIRA has been given the green light to hold Island elections to vet potential Island candidates for consideration by the governor.
Four RIOC elections have been held in the past, each on an ad hoc basis – most recently in 2012. However, when Governor Cuomo declined to appoint any of the community-proposed nominees from that election to the board, no further elections were held.
The Right Timing?
According to Joyce Short, chair of RIRA’s Government Relations Committee, “It was brought to our attention that filling the expired seats on the RIOC Board is on the Governor’s radar screen.”
She says, “The last election was several years ago. Our list is stale. Some people have moved away and others may not be interested. Also, new residents who have moved into the community since the last election deserve the right to be considered. We need a new list for the Governor’s and the Mayor’s consideration.”
Since 1997, a group of Islanders has sought an amendment of the 1984 legislation creating RIOC, with the aim of bringing democracy to the Island and letting Islander’s elect residents to fill RIOC’s seven public seats.
Progress was first made in 2002. Then-Governor George Pataki amended the 1984 law to require that a minimum of five of the seven public members be residents.
In 2007, early in Governor Eliot Spitzer’s administration, Islanders were offered the opportunity to hold elections in order to provide names of residents for the Governor to consider for appointment to the Board. (There was no guarantee given that any of the community nominees would be appointed.)
The first nominating election was held February 5, 2008. Between June 2008 and May 2009, four of the resulting community-elected nominees were appointed by then-Governor David Paterson, and all seven public Board members were residents.
Roosevelt Island is owned by the City, but was leased to the State’s Urban Development Corporation for 99 years in 1968. As a result, the Island is operated by the State, not the City, with RIOC in charge.
In 1984, the State legislature created the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC), a New York State Public Benefit Corporation, to take over operations of Roosevelt Island. RIOC is tasked with the planning, design, development, operation, maintenance, and management of Roosevelt Island.
Board members are involved in the corporation’s decision-making and must attend committee and board meetings. No director may receive any salary or other compensation for his or her services.
“The community deserves the right to be heard on this issue, and to express their opinions about the service of people who occupy those seats, and who the Governor may be interested in reappointing,” says Short.