Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright is now open to a residency requirement for RIOC’s executive, she told the Roosevelt Island Daily, last year. She promised a “talk” with Senator José Serrano about “reintroducing” abandoned legislation, but was it anything more than talk?
By David Stone
Read more: Roosevelt Island News
Seawright Answers Roosevelt Island Daily Query
We reported on a bill Seawright sponsored that updated a law enabling RIOC. It was mainly technical, but she added…
“I envision a Roosevelt Island that is self-governed so that services and programs are fully responsive to the needs of residents. The community must have a say in the decision-making process of how the island is governed.”
“There should be no taxation without representation,” she said.
“Can you expand a little on the self-government commitment?” we asked.
Three years ago, a bill, cosponsored by Seawright and Serrano, required RIOC’s president live on Roosevelt Island. Democrats control both houses now, but the bill vanished.
“I am currently discussing the residency requirement with constituents and community leaders,” Seawright told The Daily through special assistant Michael Arena.
But there was a caveat that concerned us, beyond the failure to identify the “constituents and community leaders.”
Seawright now worries that requiring residency for the position of president at RIOC restricts recruiting highly qualified candidates through the widest possible search.
And that’s a clinker.
“It’s troubling,” we told Arena, “that anyone wishing to lead this community considers living here a detriment.”
No RIOC executive has ever lived in the community, and that drives a wedge between 591 Main Street and everywhere else on the Island.
And since this initial report, Shelton J. Haynes, another nonresident, replaced Rosenthal.
Seawright Open To RIOC Residency Now
“Living on Roosevelt Island is not a detriment,” Arena answered, “but it could reduce the applicant pool.”
That said, he concluded, “The Assembly Member is open to reintroducing the legislation and will consult with Senator Serrano on next steps.”
Such a change, long sought by local activists, radically alters Roosevelt Island’s power balance.
But reality intrudes.
With the law now standing a good chance for success, Seawright and Serrano failed to reintroduce the residency legislation.
Who really represents Roosevelt Island? Anyone?