person holding a red rose and a book
Photo by Dario Fernandez Ruz on

The Queen of Mean Struck Then, Setting a Tone for Now…


Although it took more than a year before the truth came out, the Queen of Mean ramped up power as RIOC devolved, last year. But most surprisingly, her actions thwarted Roosevelt Islanders’ honoring George Floyd, shortly after his death.

By David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Not long after the murder of George Floyd on May 25th, Roosevelt Islanders, led by the Common Council, planned a gathering on the Meditation Steps. Nobody guessed the Queen of Mean would try stifling it.

But, we find out, this summer, more than a year later, that she did.

Queen of Mean in the Shadows

Surprising everyone involved, the Common Council got pushback from RIOC when requesting equipment for the event.

“Today RIRA is honoring the death of George Floyd with a vigil ceremony at the Meditation Steps tonight at 6 PM.,” organizer Frank Farance wrote.

“My understanding is that RIOC has some portable PA system that has been used for events like this, but Jessica says there is a new State law that prohibits such ‘borrowing’…”

Jessica is Cerone, who works under Erica Spencer-EL, RIOC’s Manager of Communications & Community Affairs.

And Farance’s quotes come from a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request he sent to the state agency.

“Could you provide a copy of those new laws, regulations, and/or policies that Jessica is citing that prohibits such access?”

And then, the games began…

Actually, anything unfolding so slowly barely qualifies as a game, but with RIOC, it was more like slow-motion Whack-A-Mole.

It took many months, but Farance finally got an answer. Or, rather, RIOC refused to answer because, according to legal counsel, Lada Stasko, he didn’t ask right.

It was merely an inquiry, not a proper request for records, and RIOC was under no obligation to answer.

Weeding through that silliness, wondering why they just didn’t answer an obvious question, leads down a rabbit hole. And within that warren is whatever paranoia, defensiveness or whatever leading to RIOC’s obsession with secrecy.

So, after taking Stasko to school on the law, he simply rephrased, a year later.

“Could you provide any records that indicate new laws, regulations, and/or policies that Jessica is citing that prohibits such access?”

Queen of Mean emerges

After a word salad doing no more than dodging the issue, Stasko finally conceded.

“…upon further clarification with RIOC’s Manager of Communications & Community Affairs (Spencer-EL), she (Cerone) was referring to RIOC’s oral policy to protect equipment from potential damage, not any New York law, guidelines, or policy.

“As such, RIOC does not possess any records responsive to your request “for any records that indicate new laws, regulations, and/or policies that Jessica is citing that prohibits such access.”

And thus, RIOC justifies stiff-arming the community’s attempt at partnering with them in memorializing George Floyd.

The Common Council might damage their podium, and the new law was a fantasy or, if you prefer, a lie of convenience, on the spot.

We’ll leave the last word to Farance, sizing things up for the Common Council: “Thus, Jessica/Erica was bullshitting you … they were just making stuff up.”

The future of the Communications Team in stonewalling Roosevelt Islanders was rolling out already.

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