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Already in full bunker mode, RIOC now digs in deeper


RIOC dug in deeper, embracing magical budgeting and pushing back against community outreach. At an unannounced Audit Committee meeting in December 2020, RIOC’s bunker mode was in full force.

By David Stone

Roosevelt Island Daily News

So, how far out of reach are they…?

Let’s get this out of the way first.

§104. Public notice.

1. Public notice of the time and place of a meeting scheduled at least one week prior thereto shall be given or electronically transmitted to the news media and shall be conspicuously posted in one or more designated public locations at least seventy-two hours before such meeting.

New York Open Meetings Law

Since Governor Andrew Cuomo cynically removed then president/CEO Susan Rosenthal, affirming a staff ambush, RIOC routinely flouts this law. For the Audit Committee meeting, last week, they skipped it and repeated the public snub this week for a full board meeting.

An inquiry about this violation to acting president/CEO Shelton Haynes and RIOC legal counsel went unanswered.

Long criticized as detached from the community it allegedly serves, the state agency is steps away from total secrecy.

RIOC digs in deeper: the fantasy budget

The 2021/22 budget, the main business before Audit, continues RIOC’s retreat into fantasy.

CEO John O’Reilly told the board committee that Albany overseers approved the magical-thinking budget sent upstream in August. For the record, it anoints the fantasy that RIOC can rely on a return to full Tram revenue next year. And no cutbacks in bloated staffing are considered.

Discussing the make-believe, O’Reilly rambled through an insistence that the state can’t stay closed without folding altogether. Therefore, magically, all normal activities will be in place by June.

Even Boss Cuomo doesn’t embrace that, and studies insist he already exaggerates the state’s conditions.

Nothing in the reality of the moment suggests anything like a return to normal until late next year. But RIOC bases its budget on something much sooner, and faster than anyone rationally believes possible.

An assumed factor in RIOC’s digging deeper is hopes for some kind of federal bailout for local governments. And that’s risky because, unless Democrats win the Senate during Georgia’s January elections, that won’t happen.

Followers of RIOC board activities will not be surprised that committee members nodded along as if no longer caught up in the world the rest of us occupy.

An assist offered and rejected…

O’Reilly, answering a question about projects, revealed that a half-dozen charging stations now operate in Motorgate, bringing the state agency new needed revenue.

RIOC’s alleged communications team barely functions, and so, I reached out to O’Reilly for details:

“After watching the Audit Committee recording, I wondered if you have some information on the charging stations. Because communications are close to nonexistent since Terrence (McCauley) left, it was news to me and probably for almost everyone else. I’d like to include a little bit and maybe even a photo in a summary article about the meeting. If you can get me a brief overview, that would be great, and if you can tell me where to look for a charging station, I’ll go down and get a photo myself.”

Instead of hoped for details, I got this from an executive assistant:

“Thank you for your inquiry. As you may know, we receive a large volume of correspondence and we want to make sure your concerns are addressed in an effective and timely manner.  Please look to our social media, RIOC advisories, our website or RIOC NEWS newsletter for updates on our projects and initiatives.”

It’s almost as if the deep thinkers at RIOC believe these resources are timely, complete and reliable.

But save yourself the trouble. They are not.

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