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An open letter to Richard Toussaint

JEAN DAVIS | 4/12/2011, 5:29 p.m.

It is, indeed, a sad day when a piece in the Amsterdam News calls for "transparency" and is, itself, anything but that. Rather, under covert cover of an "opinion," you have disparaged the Riverton Tenants Association ("RTA") executive board and labeled three of its members as "rogues" engaged in a "Bloomberg"-type action.

As a member of that board, I am shocked at this public attack on the integrity of the board and specific members by use of misstatement, distortion and innuendo, and that it was initiated without a courtesy notice to the board or without first availing yourself of the option to have an open discussion of your issues at the March general meeting (where you were present) or the April general meeting/candidate forum (where you chose not to be present). Moreover, as a fellow resident and past collaborator with you on several projects involving the RTA, the Harlem River Park Task Force and Community Board 11, I am personally highly offended by this cowardly act and your accusations.

Contrary to your allegations, the facts are:

* The RTA exec board, as with governing bodies of similar organizations, is empowered to make recommendations and take actions that are appropriate to the purposes of the organization.

* Under the RTA bylaws, the membership may vote to reject any action taken by the exec board.

* In the instance cited, the executive board did not issue a waiver as is alleged. The board's "action" was to prepare a proposal that sought: (1) to permit term-limited members to run for one additional term and (2) to extend the time within which residents could join or renew membership and thereby vote in the 2010 election.

* Consistent with the bylaws, the proposals, with explanatory preamble, were submitted to and distributed to all paid up members of the association for a vote.

* The returned ballots were counted by an independent group of residents who had no prior association with the executive board or with the proposals.

* An overwhelming majority of the membership, in each instance, voted to accept each proposal.

Furthermore, it is puzzling, to say the least, that you did not question the appropriateness of the membership proposal, nor did you cite any specifics for the alleged "scandal," "impropriety" or "backroom" dealings. In fact, although money was stolen more than four years ago, it was not, as you and everyone else knows, on the watch of any of the current exec board members. As for improprieties and backroom dealings--as the kids would say, "Give me a break"! The lawyer was paid for his DHCR work; and the board has not bought or received even a bottle of water or anything else personal during the past four years!

You have used the respect accorded you over these years to compromise this election process. Why? To what end? Is this agitating serving a special Toussaint agenda? Is this merely sour grapes over removal from the nominations committee for your failure to follow the exec board's directions?

To be clear, I do not object to your right to have an opinion or even to voice it. However, at the end of the day, equally important is how things are done. That is, whether actions honor the ethical and moral code claimed. Surely, the actions of a man of honor should reflect the same "transparency" he demands of others.

As I see it, your actions do not! Never before in the 40+ years that I have lived at the Riverton has there ever been such a sour, discordant climate among the residents. Where there was an opportunity for discourse, harmony and cooperation, you chose, instead, to fuel a climate of divisiveness, distrust and disharmony. At a time when unanimity should be paramount, you have chosen, instead, to poison the waters to the detriment of our long-held sense of community.