Is RIOC keeping two sets of books for PSD staffing? Our investigation shows a wide gap between public information and private reality.
By David Stone
PSD Staffing Has Two Versions
The numbers just pop out at you, the gap between greater than a simple mistake can explain. And no obvious solution exists for filling the crevice. But here’s what we do know.
Virtually identical to previous years, RIOC’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year lists 51.5 full time equivalent jobs in the Public Safety Department. That accounts for over $2.8 million in payroll, and the board approved it in October. Approval by overseers in Albany is pending for a fiscal year beginning April 1st. 2022.
Here at The Daily, we’ve criticized the employee count as excessive, especially given endless complaints about the department’s ineffectiveness. But RIOC remained steadfast. In fact, after a series of incidents involving a dog killed by a car on the West Promenade and several pedestrians struck in crosswalks, this fall, President/CEO insisted that they were fully staffed.
“As another point of clarification, the Public Safety Department is not short-staffed as we have only one vacant position at this time,” he wrote in a statement.
That contradicted reported comments by PSD Deputy Chief Anthony Amorosa while talking to the Common Council and the heartbroken family whose dog died. Amorosa said the PSD could not do all that residents wanted because they were understaffed.
But it may be far worse than that.
Two Sets of Numbers, Budget and Realty
In fact, Amorosa may be right, and he may have understated the issue.
Over time, we’ve learned to never take President Haynes at face value. His claims have turned out false, always requiring double-checking. For that reason, we foiled the state agency for a list of every employee and their salary. What we got back was shocking.
Not the 51.5 full timers assigned PSD in the budget, a number we as well as the board and state officials rely on, the roster shows only 41 officers and supervisors. That includes three official earning six figure salaries, but in the budget, their pay is understated by $10 -20 thousand each.
This means that budgets are being approved for much higher figures than RIOC actually spends, according to their own documents. And it suggests that Haynes was far from truthful in saying PSD “is not short-staffed.”
The larger question is, Where did the money go? If RIOC forces Roosevelt Islanders into coughing up for 51.5 PSD staff, where are they? Is there deception? Is the money missing or diverted? And what’s with the apparent glaring lack of oversight and accountability?
Conclusion on PSD Staffing
RIOC as well as the nameless Albany executive chamber managers who are ultimately in charge of operations owes Roosevelt Islanders an explanation and a cleanup, if necessary.
There’s an Inspector General, an Attorney General and local elected officials who should hear alarms. With a lame board of directors routinely unwilling to do more than nap through meetings, the community paying the bills has little to no access into RIOC’s internal doings. And even when they find issues, residents have no option for demanding change.
While no absolute proof exists of any wrongdoing, there’s plenty of smoke for sending responsible parties racing in, looking for the fire.
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