Even on a day when Roosevelt Islanders gathered to honor George Floyd, RIOC found a way for annoying residents. The state agency’s own efforts were feeble, but why stiff-arm others?
By David Stone
“Today RIRA is honoring the death of George Floyd with a vigil ceremony at the Meditation Steps…” read an email to RIOC president/CEO Shelton J. Haynes and chief counsel Gretchen Robinson. The author was activist Frank Farance, member of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Common Council.
In the past, he added, “RIOC (assuming availability) provided tents and equipment and such at community events, including Roosevelt Island Day.”
Now, RIOC, although planning no event of their own, rejected a request to loan public address equipment. Haynes earlier agreed but was overruled by a subordinate.
This was 1:20 p.m., and just seven minutes later — at mid-afternoon — Haynes finally got around to issuing a statement of his own: GEORGE FLOYD STATEMENT.
It circulate only through the RIOC advisory system, normally used for infrastructure announcements, shuttle bus and storm advisories.
RIOC sent no statement to local media for sharing, and of course, with this one, they pivoted quickly, making the statement mostly about RIOC and Haynes.
Refusing help: How RIOC found a way…
The subordinate overruling Haynes was Community Affairs Manager, Jessica Cerone, recently noted as a key player in refusing RIRA president Rossana Ceruzzi admission to the Youth Center reopening ceremony.
Her job, according to her LinkedIn profile: “…coordinate, organize and head the efforts to represent RIOC favorably in the community. The core daily tasks… promote good will while fostering positive relationships with community leaders, organizations…”
But no, she said, providing equipment for such events violated state regulations.
That was the point of Farance’s email, officially a FOIL request for the specific regulations.
While in the meantime…
RIOC found a way of pushing back against supporting the George Floyd vigil, even while routinely ignoring other law violations every day.
Here’s an example.
You can’t miss this sign, nor can president/CEO Haynes as he parks his giant gas guzzler right there. Yet bicyclists buzz past the sign all the time, and RIOC routinely ignores the violation. This, even though racing bicycles the wrong way down a one-way street poses hazards far greater than loaning a podium and speakers.
Also, just in the past year, RIOC waved by extreme violations of the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (GOER) rules. These violations set the stage for ex-president/CEO Susan Rosenthal’s legally questionable dismissal.
And multiple times, RIOC failed at providing proper requirements for board meetings and shut its collective eyes on apparent purchasing violations.
So, what’s going on here?
Repeatedly, RIOC found a way to ignore violations when it served a purpose or out of indifference. But when the Residents Association asked for a public address podium for a George Floyd Memorial, no dice…?
Shelton J. Haynes couldn’t find a way…? Really?
Who’s running this place, after all?
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