Assorted Ideas

Seawright Folds On Southpoint Redesign

State assembly member Rebecca Seawright folds on Southpoint redesign in an abrupt reversal. Less than a day earlier, she tweeted, “I am proud” to support protests.

By David Stone

For even those most cynical of political shenanigans, the haste of Seawright’s surrender shocked.

Seawright Folds On Southpoint Redesign

On Monday, Seawright came out in support of resistance. She signed the Save Our Shorelines (SOS) petition, but a day later, she caved.

Chief of staff Corey Hassan quotes her:

“I wanted to inform you that after a call earlier today with RIOC and the Governor’s office, there was an agreement made to temporarily delay the groundbreaking of the Shoreline Restoration Project which was set to begin on July 13. This delay of the seawall replacement is meant to help address recent community concerns.”

Our report on her support yesterday brought an immediate response from the second floor in Albany. The governor hates bad publicity as much as he dispises disloyalty, and his staff was all over it.

Seawright backed down. Now, residents get a two week reprieve, giving RIOC time to make its case, although no opening exists for the slightest change.

Local and Beyond, 24/7: Roosevelt Island News

You needn’t read between the lines when the goose is already cooked.

History predicts…

From submetering abuses to looking the other way when years of non-potable water filled playground fountains, Seawright’s history of coming on strong, then backing down, is familiar.

History repeats itself, and it also predicts.

Disappointment awaits anyone expecting more from the assembly member.

In perspective, Seawright signed the petition, now with over 4,000 signatures, only after Lou Puliafito stepped up. Puliafito is her opponent in November’s election.

Shortly after Puliafito announced strong support for Save Our Shorelines, the competition followed.

And the governor just helped her by abruptly opening up independent candidate petitions, requiring close personal contact during the coronavirus pandemic.

Before and After

Southpoint Park Trail before the redesign.
This trail and all trees and vegetation on the right will be wiped out in the Southpoint Redesign.
Seawright folded on a Southpoint plan that completely alters the park's ambience.
Seawright folded on a Southpoint Redesign that goes far beyond fixing damaged riprap. At an October meeting of RIOC’s board, the plan was repeatedly compared to Brooklyn Bridge Park. Scenic view of the state’s highest polluting power plant anyone?

Conclusion: Seawright Folds On Southpoint Redesign and RIOC Applauds

As if the assembly member’s caving wasn’t clear enough, a late night, unsolicited email from RIOC’s acting president/CEO sealed it.

After offering a lengthy rationale for the project, Shelton Haynes was clear, “Due to community concerns of the project’s potential effects on local flora and fauna, we are pushing the start date back.”

In essence, RIOC’s giving itself two weeks for teaming with Seawright to deflate the protests.

“We look forward to working with Assembly Member Seawright and our other stakeholders on bringing this critically needed project to completion,” he added.

Nowhere in his or her statements was the slightest hint of any change or willingness to reconsider a single aspect.

Seawright quit on residents, and Cuomo-led RIOC will proceed as planned, just two short weeks later.

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3 replies »

  1. The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to say, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but they are not entitled to their own facts”. He might be wagging his finger just a bit at Mr. David Stone’s fallacious opinion that Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright somehow “ caved in” by helping to secure a delay on the Southpoint redesign. Instead of recognizing the fact that the Assemblymember lobbied the Governor and RIOC to delay the project and allow for greater community involvement and engagement, he presents this development as a defeat! This is tantamount to throwing the towel into the boxing ring, and walking back to the dressing room, leaving the audience ( in this case, several thousand petitioners) gasping.
    In the dressing room, in the backroom wings, is the Republican candidate for the Assembly, the vice president of the Trump -loving State Republican Party Mr. Stone invoked. That corner will prove to be an empty one come November.
    On whether the availability of an independent nominating process was meant to favor one candidate, that has no factual basis. It would have been blatantly unconstitutional to prevent candidates in New York from seeking independent lines. The Governor did the right thing by upholding the democratic process. And, David, this is why the Republican is petitioning himself, out of concern that the Trump brand he is running on is so toxic and unpopular.
    Instead of lacing opinions with partisan attacks, permit me to suggest that fair and objective coverage would be a greater service. Mr. Stone has done so on other occasions and we hope he will do so again.

    • I’m sure you’ll agree that a big part of political reporting is not buying into spin, especially when a surrogate adheres to established talking points.

      The facts are, like it or not, that Seawright enthusiastically jumped in, supporting the petition to stop the destructive redesign of Southpoint and, less than a day later, engaged with the Cuomo team to propose a simple two week delay, during which their plan can be pitched. But importantly, Seawright no longer wants the plan stopped. She switched positions virtually overnight.

      Whatever you think of the Republican candidate, he has stuck with his position and a general policy of demanding that RIOC, Cuomo’s baby, be responsive to the community and transparent. Seizing an already scheduled town hall to pitch a project that will go forward, as Seawright has, does neither. It’s camouflage, not transparency. Seawright has chosen to represent Cuomo/RIOC, not residents, but it wasn’t unexpected. There is history to consider, after all.

      Nonetheless, this is not political. It’s about good government, which is not on the political spectrum, doing things the right way, neither Democratic nor Republican, conservative or liberal.

      As for Mr. Moynahan, he was a sturdy Nixon ally who archly suggested “benign neglect” of inner city residents as a way for Nixon to play both sides and not lose support of the “silent majority.”

      So, wag away, Daniel, but don’t try to claim some high moral ground for opportunism.

      If you’d like some additional facts, just ask. As we get nearer the election, I’ll be analyzing the records. You might get an education from seeing things, not from a a gilded UES angle, but from the man on the street here on Roosevelt Island.

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