shallow focus photography of black and green turtle
Photo by daniyal ghanavati on

A new voice emerges from still super secret RIOC


RIOC’s new voice made its appearance last week. It was refreshingly freer of grammatical errors and twisted logic, but the change is superficial. The super secret state agency remains remote and detached.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

a cup of coffee and a camera on a wooden table in the workplace
Photo by Engin Akyurt on

RIOC’s New Voice: Same as the Old Voice

The vaunted Communications Team that President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes pushed into office immediately after his predecessor was displaced fell apart in 2022. They were never impressive but always visible. RIOC Advisories, though, grew erratic and unreliable in recent months, so much so that something was clearly wrong, but what?

Job postings nationwide on Indeed appeared just as the old Team faded. Secretive as ever, the Haynes administration never leaked a word. And Haynes himself has been invisible in 2022, except for an embarrassing attempt at blaming OMNY’s Tram absence on the MTA. That failed fast, and the boss again did the turtle thing.

shallow focus photography of black and green turtle
This turtle is about to retreat into its shell, a familiar pose at RIOC, this year. Photo by daniyal ghanavati on

Rumors circulated that Communications Team leader Erica Spencer-EL separated from RIOC, but the turtle never came out with any information. A similar fate may have swept others away, as well. But as of this moment, both Spencer-EL and her partner Jessica Cerone remain listed as media contacts on their website.

So, while the inexplicably secretive agency failed to make any announcements, a new voice, distinctly unlike the old Communications Team’s made an appearance.

A New Voice, Same Attitude

“In reports released as early as this month, overall crime in New York City is up nearly 60% compared to this time last year. While Roosevelt Island remains one of the safest neighborhoods in New York City, we are not insulated from this unfortunate crime surge.”

Attributed to PSD Chief Kevin Brown/April 1st, 2020.

Okay. So, it was April Fools Day and the “reports released as early as this month” was a brain twister, but the advisory was mostly coherent. No bungled grammar, no awkward phrasing. It was refreshing.

The advisory, belatedly addressing crimes committed two and half days earlier, was attributed to Chief Brown. But if he wrote it, he’d gained a literary flourish not previously noted.

Some things don’t change, of course. Instead of real information, this was a CYA document, keeping to the style of RIOC’s “The buck stops there” posturing:

It’s not us – it’s the whole damn city. And the “NYPD who” is odd, but otherwise, it was a huge improvement.

But even paper tigers don’t change their stripes…

Another advisory, the same day, brought back a familiar pattern, and a Sunday miscue was oh, so routine.

Late Friday, RIOC found reporting sidewalk work outside Foodtown, set for today, significant enough to inspire a new advisory. No harm there, of course, but another thing stuck out. RIOC’s new voice created something called “the Motorgate half-circle.”

It brought back memories of the invention of the “Meditation Lawn.” Known to the community as the Rivercross Lawn for decades, it abruptly wasn’t. Because RIOC said so.

That appears to be the fate of the old Motorgate Bus Stop and Turnaround. It went out of service after a bicyclist died after crashing into a Red Bus that was turning into it. A ghost bike still marks the spot.

But after aggressively advising about sidewalk work and inventing the Motorgate half-circle, the advisory system flopped on Sunday. Without any prior notice, RIOC posted on social media about a partial Tram shutdown taking place that morning. There was no advisory, just a post on Twitter and maybe other social platforms.

If you missed it, tough luck. RIOC is back, if they ever left. But the grammar is better.

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