Debra Kustka is gone, a RIOC Vice President for less than four months. There was no announcement and no explanation. Just sort of eradicated from behind the bunker.
by David Stone
Debra Kustka, RIOC Vice President, Operations from December, 2021, to March, 2022
Hired as Chief Operating Officer at RIOC, according to her LinkedIn profile, Kustka came to Roosevelt Island after 16 years as a Vice President at Hudson River Park. At the state agency’s December board meeting, President/CYA Shelton J. Haynes gushed over her, about how closely they’d be working together.
Then followed a RIOC winter, board meetings abruptly cancelled, inexplicable job postings for new executive positions and more. But no word from the bunkered Chief Executive or his Albany handlers under Governor Kathy Hochul.
“The Tyrant Strikes Again” Read the Subject Line in My Email
“Debra Kustka was abruptly fired last week. What’s going on here?” wrote an informant. We can’t confirm that she was fired. She may well have quit. But in either case, it’s stunning. Whether Haynes wanted her out or she tired of RIOC pretty quickly, she is gone and erased.
But history provides a record. In RIOC’s December 29th, 2021, board meeting, she made her solo appearance. You can view that video here, unless they remove it.
Possible reasons for her departure are many, but maybe she was trapped. The last occupant in that position was Haynes himself, and Kustka was far better qualified for the spot. Complicating that was that it placed her between Haynes and his longtime friend and alleged nepotism hire, Assistant Vice-President Altheria Jackson. Jackson, by any available accounts, was even less qualified than Haynes.
Editor’s Note: After it was used as a reference in an investigative article here, Haynes’s LinkedIn profile was abruptly deleted. Jackson’s barely exists. But Kustka’s is up and detailed, striking a contrast between extreme secrecy and genuine public service.
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