Main Street WIRE Letters: Ben Kallos Calls on Governor Cuomo to Defend Freedom on Roosevelt Island by Ben Kallos

Main Street WIRE
Main Street WIRE
Letters: Ben Kallos Calls on Governor Cuomo to Defend Freedom on Roosevelt Island
Ben Kallos
04/05/2013

As a City Council candidate for the 5th District, which includes Roosevelt Island, I have been supporting Democracy for Roosevelt Island through my community’s hard fought battle for the freedoms and democracy appreciated by all other residents of New York City. This is because, unlike the rest of the City, Roosevelt Island is managed by Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC), a New York State Agency whose Board members are appointed by the Governor.

Roosevelt Island activist and former Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Matthew Katz brought to our campaign’s attention that there is now a vacancy on the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) Board as a result of the resignation of Sal Ferrara [Ferrera], a nonresident who was appointed in June of 2011 without being elected by Roosevelt Island residents.

We request that the Governor restore democracy to Roosevelt Island by filling this vacancy with a Roosevelt Island resident elected by fellow residents.

This past November, RIRA conducted an election where all Roosevelt Island residents who were voting for the President of the United States were given the opportunity to select candidates for appointment to the RIOC Board by your office. Larry Parnes and Lydia Tang won this election with 992 and 984 votes respectively.

Please join your predecessors, Governor Eliot Spitzer and Governor David Paterson, as a hero for democracy by appointing [one of] these candidates, Larry Parnes or Lydia Tang, to fill Mr. [Ferrera]’s vacant seat on the RIOC Board, by priority of their total votes.

Both these candidates represent Roosevelt Island’s vision for its future. Their passion and activism for the Island is equally matched by their experience. Mr. Parnes is a current member of Community Board 8 Manhattan and former Deputy Executive Director of the Department of City Planning. Ms. Tang is a businesswoman, civil servant, and college professor. You can learn more about them by reading their biographies featured in The Main Street WIRE for November 3, 2012, available at http://tinyurl. com/wire3305.

The community has worked for more than a quarter of a century to restore democracy to Roosevelt Island, and as a candidate for City Council, it is an honor to help lead the charge.

As you may know, your father, Governor Mario Cuomo, created the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation in 1984. Fifteen years later, in 1997, the effort to hold direct elections of Roosevelt Island residents to fill the seven (7) public board seats began. In 1998, State Assembly Member Pete Grannis first introduced legislation to replace appointees with elected board members to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation. In 2002, Governor George Pataki endorsed legislation from Grannis mandating that residents occupy at least five of RIOC’s seven public seats.

In 2007, Governor Eliot Spitzer endorsed the idea of holding Islandwide elections to nominate residents for his appointment to Board seats. In 2008, Governor David Paterson appointed four of the top vote-getters from the first Islandwide election. In 2010, Governor Paterson appointed the top two vote-getters from the second Island-wide election, which took place in May 2009.

In 2011, current Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed Sal [Ferrera], an unelected non-resident, to a vacant seat. In February 2012, a third election was held, and the results of the top vote getters were sent to Governor Cuomo. A fourth election was held in November 2012, before the resignation of Sal [Ferrera].

We are now calling on you as Governor to:

(a) appoint a resident-elected candidate to fill the current vacancy on RIOC Board; and

(b) propose “Democracy for Roosevelt Island” as a program bill; and

(c) pledge to fill all upcoming vacancies with residents elected in the most recent elections in order of those with the most votes; Please be the hero we know you to be by restoring democracy to Roosevelt Island.

Benjamin Kallos

Issue: 
Roosevelt Island