I’ve been attending RIRA meetings for five years. That’s nothing compared to some of the fine people who have shared stories of their RIRA experience for this issue.
When I started going to meetings, RIRA honestly seemed in crisis. It appeared possible to me, a newbie, that RIRA might just end after the meeting at which Ellen Polivy resigned as president, on February 5, 2014. The infighting and viciousness that led up to that meeting had made it impossible for the group to accomplish much. It was sad; it was difficult to witness; and the meetings were long – so very long.
After that meeting, my predecessor, Dick Lutz, wrote this as part of his editorial:
“RIRA is like electricity. You’ll only notice it when you don’t have it. Otherwise, it does not typically inject itself into your daily thoughts. Without it though, Islanders would lose their last (and only) shred of local representative government. You won’t get it from New York State, where Governor Andrew Cuomo has ignored the precedents set before him and has paid no attention to local advisory elections for RIOC board members. New York City can provide little, because RIOC, a State agency, calls the shots here. So RIRA – your association of Island residents – is important as a representative of your needs, and those of your fellow residents.”
He’s right. And in the time since then, RIRA’s path has righted itself. There’s a lot of new blood, and the Octagon’s Jeff Escobar has proven himself to be an effective RIRA President.
The view hasn’t always been pretty, but 40 years after its creation, RIRA is still here shining a light on Islanders’ concerns and, ultimately, it’s up to each of us, as residents, to put it to good use.