City Council Member Julie Menin helps residents. No sign of RIOC being aware – or even awake


RIOC went missing again, now for the third straight time when City Council Member Julie Menin came over to help residents. Menin handed out face masks and at home COVID test kit, but RIOC showed no signs of being aware – or even awake.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

RIOC went missing – It’s a pattern now

Cit Council Member Julie Menin serves the line of Roosevelt Islanders waiting for COVID-fight supplies at the CBN/RI Senior Center. Carter Burden Network Executive Director Bill Dionne stood by.

Was it ineptitude, political gamesmanship or laziness? Was RIOC’s vaunted Communications Team out to lunch again?

This marked the third time since December that Menin or her team came to town and delivered supplies. It was also the third time that RIOC did not send an advisory or recognize her presence. In the meantime, the crack team of – now – three rallied themselves to announce DOT bridge testing, the food pantry and the farmers market schedules.

“Today I met with members of @CBurdenNetwork and distributed hundreds of masks and at-home test kits to our seniors on Roosevelt Island. With masking and testing, we can overcome this virus together! #NewYorkStrong

Originally tweeted by Julie Menin (@JulieMenin) on February 23, 2022.

As State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright noted, in terms of fighting COVID, “We need all hands on deck.” But with RIOC, all hand appear idle and not even sure there’s a deck.

But the failures extend further…

Funded primarily by residents, RIOC is an expensive operation increasingly disconnected from the community it – in theory – serves. And it’s not just snubbing Menin and leaving the community uninformed, it’s a growing issue across the board.

Two weeks ago, Menin, Seawright and State Senator José Serrano got after RIOC President/CYA Shelton Haynes for letting the Tram risk falling out of the MTA system as it phased into OMNY. In a public letter, Menin demanded he get with it.

Snubbing residents and other Tram users, Haynes responded in a private email about ten days later. Typically, he accepted no responsibility for himself or RIOC, blaming the MTA instead. He also conceded letting the Tram fall out of the system for at least six months without any plan for collecting fares in the interim.

For his efforts, Haynes got a virtual jack slap from his Hochul handlers in Albany, prompting an abject retraction within a few hours. But Haynes kept his name off that one.

But since none of Haynes’s statements were public, and his alleged Communications Team has risen above the horizon in a long time, the community remains in the dark on this one.

But RIOC went missing before…

  • November 11th: RIOC summed up an erratic six-month series of AVAC system failures, describing future actions. “RIOC will provide updates as they become available,” they wrote. More than a half-dozen failures followed, but there has not been a single update.
  • October 16th: After a series of personal injury accidents on Main Street and a dog killed on the West Promenade, Haynes released a list of safety improvements. But none took place, except a Promenade motor vehicle shutdown that soon dissolved. “New signage will be ordered,” Haynes promised, but if it was, it was never put up.
  • May 19th: A 21 year old man died at the Sportspark Pool. Nine months later, RIOC refuses to release even his name let alone the circumstances of his death or any sign of remorse.

These are just the lowlights. There were numerous other failures at following up after storms, Tram closings and so forth. Neither Haynes nor his acclaimed Communications Team have shown any commitment to community outreach.

And there is no end in sight.

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