UPDATE: RIOC Splits Community. This Time, Aided by Kallos and Maloney

UPDATE: RIOC Splits Community. This Time, Aided by Kallos and Maloney

RIOC splits community with such consistency, it’s hard to see it as other than deliberate. Echoing its own internal turmoil, the state agency divides to conquer. Sadly, some elected officials play along.

Opinion by David Stone

Roosevelt Island Daily News

UPDATE, April 23rd, 2021: At last evening’s RIOC Board Meeting, president/CEO Shelton Haynes firmly and repeatedly apologized to Roosevelt Island Residents Association president Rossana Ceruzzi for her mistreatment at the Youth Center opening, last weekend. He never mentioned nor apologized for a similar experience by the Roosevelt Islander.

End of Update


The latest divide was stark as RIOC, led by an alleged “Communications Team,” splits the community like a patroon playing favorites. We’ve already witnesses efforts at punishing critics, but now, they’re digging into the heart of the community.

RIOC Splits Community: Elites Only Opening of the Youth Center We All Paid For

When the Roosevelt Islander reported, last weekend, that the alleged Communications Team tried barring him from a grand opening for the renovated Youth Center, it caught our attention.

Renovations upgrading the Youth Center counted on funds collected from residents via the hidden RIOC Tax. It’s not owned by RIOC, merely managed.

Although the Roosevelt Islander is local media and well established, the Communications Team refused him entry. But an appeal to city council member Ben Kallos, who in turn appealed to RIOC CEO Shelton Haynes, got him in.

But, according to the report, Rosanna Ceruzzi, president of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Common Council, wasn’t so lucky.

Erica Spencer-EL, Jessica Cerone, RIOC Community Relations
The core of RIOC’s alleged Communications Team, Erica Spencer-EL (left) and Jessica Cerone at FIGMENT NYC in 2019.

Also barred when she approached the entry point, Ceruzzi asked why.

Reportedly, alleged Communications Team leader Erica Spencer-EL told her the event was for “elected officials” and RIOC only.

The Roosevelt Island community elected Ceruzzi, but that cut no ice with Spencer-EL. And plenty of those inside failed that test anyway.

Non elected officials participate in the ribbon cutting. Later, a maskless Ben Kallos plays with the toys. Children were absent from the event.

Banned at the door…

RIOC splits the community, but only the alleged Communications Team calls those shots.

“Erica was monitoring from inside when I was objecting that RIRA should have been the first to attend the reopening of a community facility,” Ceruzzi told the Roosevelt Island Daily.


“So she came to get her satisfaction in kicking me out.” It was “embarrassing.”

Both Kallos and congresswoman Carolyn Maloney attended the elitist event, including the ribbon-cutting. Neither assisted Ceruzzi or even seemed aware.

“It was so horrible,” she said, “in front of everyone at the desk and passing by.”

We asked if RIOC president/CEO Shelton Haynes offered any assistance. Haynes generally stays out of the alleged Communication Team’s way.

He remained inside, Ceruzzi said, and “later apologized.”

“He told me that he was not aware of it,” which sadly adds up.

Ellen Polivy, wife of RIOC board member Howard Polivy and not an elected official, tried assisting.

“I gave up and was leaving, really offended, when Ellen Polivy insisted I should get in, and she got to Erica and told her that she could not refuse to let in the Pres of RIRA.”

Spencer-EL shot down her request too, according to Ceruzzi.

RIOC splits community…

Since ousting president/CEO Susan Rosenthal, last year, RIOC’s grown more insular, less willing to answer questions and far less accountable. The alleged Communications Team defines who’s in and who’s out, unfettered by timid executives and board members.

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