RIOC News Arrives: This Promo Is On You


August 2020: This week, RIOC News arrives, thuddingly dull and full of itself. In short, the state agency looks in a mirror, and it really likes what it sees.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

If you’ve ever been stuck next to someone at a party who can’t stop talking about themselves, you experienced something like this. Isn’t it fun when they pull out a wallet filled with pictures?

In other words, RIOC News commits the unpardonable sin of being boring.

But here’s the kicker. The dinner’s on you.

RIOC News reacts to our story, Chopped City, about its campaign defoliating the Island, by praising the crew that did the damage.

An Ad You’re Paying for, RIOC News, Arrives

“RIOC can break a pattern and reach out with good, informative news and updates. In other words, it really can seize the day, and we hope it does,” we wrote.

That was last week after we learned that RIOC News was in the works.

The new newsletter “really can seize the day, and we hope it does,” we added.

But RIOC seized a mirror instead.

The result is a narcissistic spill of self-praise, reinforcing the unsightly fact we all know: RIOC is all about RIOC, and any appearance of community awareness is purely coincidental.

Let’s start at the beginning…

“We… look forward to telling our story,” writes acting president/CEO Shelton Haynes in an intro.

He closes with, “I hope you enjoy reading our newsletter!”

Later on, boasting about Capital Projects, RIOC News says, “The shoreline will also be enhanced while combating climate change and protecting the future of the natural habitat.”

As a courtesy, we offer a “natural habitat,” something unknown to RIOC’s brain trust.

Here, they’re talking about the destruction of Southpoint Park, and it misses every genuine concern. And being RIOC, its news misleads lies freely.

In reality, the state plowed under the last remaining natural habitat on Roosevelt Island, and it’s not coming back. Ever.

Here’s RIOC’s vision of “natural habitat…”

Seating in the new Southpoint Park is fully unsuitable for physically challenged visitors.

Maybe it’s a “natural habitat” to someone accustomed to suburbs and shopping malls, but it’s not that. And the worst part of this is, in spite of puffy promises, wildlife cannot return to this Brooklyn Bridge Park clone.

Geese will find nowhere near the water to safely nest and hatch goslings. Small mammals will never fit in with the tourist crowd, and sadly, our disabled population isn’t welcome either. The site is not ADA compliant, failing to meet even minimum standards for seating requested by residents.

What Else Is Missing?

You can RIOC News, newly arrived, freshly minted, subtitled “Community, Identity, Conversations & Innovations,” and realize it’s not any of these things.

There is no news. Everything’s either a rehash or a RIOC self-promo paid for with money collected from residents.

It utterly fails where it could and should succeed. Being 100% RIOC narcissism, it has no calendar and no events in which it’s not involved.

The newsletter brags about how well it served the community since the pandemic struck but says nothing about struggling businesses. And while those businesses hung in there, RIOC’s collecting full rent, even if it’s briefly deferred.

And RIOC News appropriately mourns the loss of two PSD officers to COVID-19, but it says not one word about residents who’ve suffered and died.

Dullsville Times, the disconnected RIOC News…

There are other issues about RIOC’s activities, but it skirts all of them in favor of fulsome self-admiration.

Nothing about the burning issue of bikes racing on the promenades or its flaky attempt at control through inadequate signs.

Toxic wastes in unprotected areas of Southpoint don’t crack the surface, and no trouble’s taken explaining why water fountains remain dry for the third straight summer.

We know some of these answers already, but they are inconvenient truths.

RIOC’s got no time for them as they pitch self-love as news, proving, once again, that you can’t serve a community in which you are not engaged.

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