Before landing at RIOC, Shelton Haynes worked in at least five different places, only a few years at a time. But why do we know so little about how he got a high level job here? Are there skeletons in the closet? The short answer is “Maybe…”
By David Stone
Shedding Doubt On Shelton Haynes
“You might want to look into the info attached about Hayne’s stint ‘managing’ a housing voucher program budget in Georgia that eventually led to an Inspector General investigation. He abruptly left before the report went public,” an informant wrote.
Informants, sometimes acquaintances or friends, sometimes strangers, help us see or find information leading to reports. They’re invaluable as extra eyes in the field. Surprisingly, they’re helpful more often than not. Motives don’t matter at all, as long as the information is good and verifiable.
So, when this arrived, we were intrigued enough that we jumped into some research.
The “attached” was a report from the Inspector General of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Corporation. (See below) It highlighted irregularities in the Housing Authority of DeKalb County in Decatur, Georgia, while Haynes was Chief Operating Officer, by his own account.
This stirred interest we already had over why Haynes, who certainly was not the most qualified candidate when New York State pulled him up from Georgia, got the spot.
Before RIOC, Career Evolution
Note: While some of this information was derived from Shelton J. Haynes LinkedIn profile, the page on the web has suddenly become “not available.”
Haynes graduated from Hampton University in 2000. It’s a fact I could not verify but will take him at his word. The surprising thing, though, is his degree: A BA in Sociology.
His first reported job as a caseworker in the residential program at St. Mary’s Children & Family Services fit that pattern. But he left within a year to join New York City’s Department of Mental Health & Hygiene as a medical liaison.
After just three years, he moved on to Housing Preservation and Development. By now, he was in middle management and with a rapidly advancing career. Just eight years out of college, he moved to Atlanta for a management job in their Housing Authority.
Then, after only two years, he moved on to the Housing Authority of DeKalb County in Decatur, an Atlanta suburb. In another two years, his online resume said, he was their Chief Operating Officer. But that’s where things get tricky.
Multiple searches did not confirm this position, and so far, it appears only on his resume and his RIOC bio.
Mr. Haynes previously served as Chief Operating Officer at the Housing Authority of DeKalb County in Georgia, where he oversaw all agency operations, strategic and operational initiatives as well as the executive management team.RIOC Executive Biography
Where’s Shelton Haynes?
The info posted on RIOC’s website accurately describes a COO’s job. It ranks just below CEO and reports to the chief executive.
Fudging resumes is common practice, but usually, you can verify details, especially with high profile jobs through searches. But we couldn’t find a single news story, except for his promotion at RIOC anywhere. In fact, it does not appear that the Housing Authority in DeKalb County even has a COO position.
We couldn’t find any mention of him at the DeKalb Housing Authority in any year, but something else we didn’t find was interesting.
ProPublica maintains a database of full federal tax returns by nonprofit agencies. Returns for the authority during Haynes’s tenure there are complete. In Part VII, nonprofits are required to “List all of the organization’s current key employees…” But Haynes does not appear on the returns for any year in which his resume says he was a top tier executive while others with lesser titles, like Director of Asset Management, do.
But If He Was COO in DeKalb, As His Resume and RIOC Says….
“It appears that he has a track record of misappropriating agency funds and ‘cooking the books’ before he arrived at RIOC,” our informant wrote. That’s not clear, but during the period when Haynes says he “oversaw all agency operations,” HUD found serious financial issues.
Under his leadership he was able to transform under performing departments into high performing based on measurable key performance indicators and compliance audits.RIOC Executive Website
But that claim is not consistent with what HUD found on his watch and in an area where Haynes had the most responsiblities.
The Housing Authority of DeKalb County, HUD said, “…failed to accurately report on the obligation and authorization of its capital funds. Specifically, it inaccurately reported its fiscal year 2015 capital funds as obligated when binding agreements were not executed and caused some of its fiscal year 2016 capital funds to be authorized for a previously completed activity. This condition occurred because the Authority lacked (1) an understanding of HUD’s requirements and (2) adequate internal controls over its financial reporting. As a result, more than $940,000 in capital funds was improperly obligated and authorized.”
By midyear 2016, Haynes settled into his first job with RIOC.
How and Why Did Shelton Haynes Land at RIOC?
In RIOC President/CEO Charlene Indelicato’s last board meetings, she asked the board to approve hiring Haynes. The standard refrain of complaints came to the surface, but as always, the board approved anyway.
Some board members chafed at not being allowed to effectively do their jobs. Enabling legislation calls for their doing all the hiring and firing at RIOC, but Governor Cuomo’s team blew right past them. The Second Floor in Albany refused a request for giving them at least a choice of approved candidates or, at least, some meaningful role in the search.
However, knowing Cuomo could kick them off the board on a whim, the board members sheepishly continued rolling over, grumbling to show some small bits of consciences.
“Here’s Haynes. Hire him or get gone” was the virtual message. There was no second or third choice.
But with Haynes’s hiring shrouded in a curtain of secrecy rolling down from Albany, we don’t know if any due diligence was done or to what extent. Who, if anyone, knew about the problems in Georgia?
Let’s be clear, though. Even if Haynes’s resume is 100% accurate, he served only three years in the job without any notable and verifiable achievements, other than doing his job well. How many more qualified and experienced candidates were bypassed in the 861 miles from Decatur to New York City?
Best guess is that Haynes was a political patronage appointment secured to please a Cuomo supporter or contributor. Will we ever know the truth? Will Governor Hochul give this small island the respect it deserves by taking a closer look?
We’ll get back to ya, as they say.
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