Chirivas Premise Accusing New RIRA President and The WIRE is Faulted

A member of the Common Council of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) has conducted a recent campaign against the new RIRA president and, incidentally, against The Main Street WIRE, which has now responded.

A key premise of the attack by Helen Chirivas, who represents Island House, has been that Jeffrey Escobar, who ascended to the RIRA Presidency when Ellen Polivy resigned, presented a “faits accompli” (sic) to members of the Common Council – that Council meetings would, in the future, be conducted with “auditorium-style” seating rather than the traditional round table that has served the Council for over 30 years.  Chirivas also claimed that The WIRE attempted to rewrite history in its March 8 issue by reporting that the concept was raised by another Common Councilor and former RIRA President, Sharon Pope.  (Pope used the name Nneka Pope during her RIRA presidency.)

Today (Monday, March 24), The WIRE released a video clip of the meeting segment in which Pope first raised the auditorium-seating idea, which she said would remind Councillors to address their comments to him as meeting chair, rather than to each other.  “The clip shows that the notes she took, on which Chirivas relied in accusing The WIRE of a cover-up, are wrong,” said WIRE publisher Dick Lutz.  “Escobar did not propose a change in seating, and Chirivas’ notes are wrong on that point, as well.”  Lutz noted that, in a communication to Common Council members claiming "slanted reporting" in The WIRE and repeating her own inaccurate account of the February meeting, Chirivas wrote, "I wanted to clarify the above point – as today’s WIRE article makes it look like I put words into peoples’ mouths in my 2/27/14 Informal Sit-Down Notes.  If that is the case, then I should not be Secretary.  If anyone doubts what I wrote regarding the discussion of this issue at the 2/27 meeting, and they can prove that I put words into peoples’ mouths in my below report, then they should ask me to resign immediately as RIRA Secretary."

Lutz said he would not respond point-by-point to Chirivas’ many email pronouncements on the subject.  “One of them was 3,830 words long, and it’s mostly a selection of Chirivas-created ‘facts’ and assumptions assembled to fantasize about a broad conspiracy.  Her claim of racism, even while she points out that she herself is white, puts her in the position of speaking for large numbers of people who, themselves, do not share her fantasy.  None of it is worth the thin air on which it is written.”

Lutz concluded, “The WIRE stands on its 34-year record of service to the Roosevelt Island community.  I’ll stand on my 18-year record as its Editor and Publisher, and the newspaper stands by its reporting.”

A related editorial appears in the March 22 issue of The WIRE

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