Continuing its defiance of community values, RIOC yesterday ignored a request for information about vaccination rates among its employees. The Daily made the request following reader interest in the topic.

By David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

About the Rules and RIOC Vaccination Rates

Late in July, then Governor Andrew Cuomo said that all state employees must be vaccinated by Labor Day or undergo weekly testing. “It’s smart, it’s fair and it’s in everyone’s interest,” he added.

But we don’t know if RIOC has complied with any part of the mandate. Because the super secret, bunkered state agency asks groups using its facilities to meet a vaccine requirement, revealing their own rates makes sense.

We asked RIOC President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes, Chief Counsel Gretchen Robinson and Communications Director Erica Spencer-EL about “…vaccination rates and requirements, especially PSD and other groups, like the Youth Center staff, with high levels of public contact.”

The answer: Stony silence.

The stunning absence of accountability within RIOC is widespread. But holding back on information vital to public health goes beyond irresponsible.

One sad possibility is that they’re not keeping track and can’t answer.

RIOC Indifference and Why It Matters

Tracking back over a year, we recall that at least two Public Safety Officers died from COVID-19 in 2020. Susan Rosenthal, then leading the state agency, promised a public tribute as soon as conditions allowed.

With Shelton J. Haynes now in charge and the pandemic subsiding, a May 2021 date was promised.

But when that month passed without another word, board member Michael Shinozaki asked about it publicly.

Haynes claimed that RIOC missed the May date because it wasn’t good for the officers’ families. He, then, said an August date was in the works. But that didn’t happen either, and there’s been no further word.

This resonates. Numerous quarantines within RIOC, many involving PSD, went unacknowledged as vital community information is routinely withheld.


Hopes that a new governor might bring a change in tone at RIOC are fading. The state agencies continues acting more like a cloistered monastery than a responsible public body.

And this time it’s serious. Roosevelt Islanders have a right to know the details of how its governing body handles threats to public health. New York State, even under a new governor, apparently does not agree.

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