The RIOC Sucks Petition hit my inbox early yesterday morning. I appreciate that the subject line made me laugh, but inside, the details lacked humor, facts and insight.
By David Stone
By the time anyone or any group is pissed off enough to launch a petition drive, a bundle of common sense has fled. In its absence, anger twists logic and facts are kicked aside.
But that doesn’t mean there are no core truths remaining. Or that the cause isn’t just.
The fatal flaw here, though, is that’s it’s too little and too late. And it’s wrongheaded, too.
Get local: Roosevelt Island News
About the RIOC Sucks Petition
The petition, subtitled Dreaming of a Post-RIOC Roosevelt Island! fails on several levels. But the worst, attacking with provable falsehoods, pales next to the naiveté and disguised motives.
“Roosevelt Island has been home to many, many wonderful people, families and organizations over the years,” is how it begins.
“Unfortunately, it has also been home to chronic government neglect, inefficiency, corruption and worse.”
But that’s not the real concern. The RIOC Sucks petitioner’s real concern appears next:
But here, some dishonesty intrudes. By “public spaces,” he really means “soccer fields.” The rest is simply opinion and debatable.
RIOC’s governing board has a resident majority. Two members served as Residents Association presidents. You can argue about effectiveness, but “no say” is nonsense.
But the worst is yet to come…
And it exposes the petition’s own central corruption: RIOC Sucks narrowly focuses on a single issue…
Using identical language previously put in play while protesting the shutting down of Roosevelt Island’s soccer fields, “closing 80% of our public and green spaces” isn’t just inaccurate.
It’s so spectacularly inaccurate, it’s fiction.
Let me count the ways.
- East and West Promenades, completing an unbroken 4+ mile loop.
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt Four Freedoms State Park, lively with visitors on most days.
- Southpoint Park
- Lighthouse Park
- Rivercross Lawn
- Meditation Steps
- Good Shepherd Plaza
- Blackwell Park
- Riverwalk Commons
What’s closed? Athletic fields, basketball courts and playgrounds. And pushing that argument against RIOC makes even less sense because athletic fields, basketball courts and playgrounds are closed across New York State by executive order. RIOC exercises no control over it.
But does that clear RIOC?
Not by a long shot.
Here and at the Roosevelt Island Daily, we’ve reported government neglect, inefficiency and corruption, many times. Our friend and activist Frank Farance raises issues he believes expose corruption regularly and has for years.
But while they exist, these concerns do not dominate RIOC nor do they fatally dilute the State’s overall positive influence.
And my experience tells me that, in our community, the majority is content with RIOC’s management. We’re safe, clean and green, and the buses run on time. We’re not perfect, but we’re far from the RIOC Sucks petition’s dystopian picture.
RIOC and the historic plan inspired by Ed Logue, which they oversee, are the only things standing between us and New York City’s governing bureaucracy.
Without RIOC, a State appointed agency, we lapse straight into any other neighborhood. The Tram and vast green spaces would be memories by now, and you can imagine how much clout our puny 11,500 resident population gets us.
It is about time that the people of Roosevelt Island took charge of this island for themselves…
So insists the petition before ambling off into the standard misconception: “…we have made do without local political representation and governance…”
But the truth is that we vote for governor, mayor, borough president, state assembly member, state senator and city council member. And we have a Residents Association Common Council.
Significantly, Governor Cuomo, Assembly Member Seawright and Senator Serrano share responsibility for RIOC at the State level.
If we fail at exercising influence with them, we may “do without political representation,” but whose fault is that?
Spoiler alert: It’s ours.