Shelton Haynes

One more down – Amy Smith. RIOC purge claims another


From the outside, Amy Smith’s abrupt departure looks like part of an ongoing RIOC purge, guided by President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes. Smith served as Public Relations Officer at RIOC since January, 2021. The state agency that never makes a mistake has not and will not confirm the story, but The Daily got the news from a consistently reliable source not employed by RIOC.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Next Victim in the RIOC Purge: Amy Smith

Amy Smith/LinkedIn

“Under the guidance of the Director of Communications & Community Affairs, and with the assistance of administrative support staff, I serve as a link between Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC), the media, and other government entities,” Smith’s LinkedIn profile says. “I also support the President & CEO, RIOC’s management team, and staff in formulating internal and external communications.”

But not anymore, according to reliable sources. Because RIOC surrounds itself with secrecy, we don’t know the mechanics of her leaving. She may have quit or it could be mutual, but it fits a pattern.

This follows the unexplained departures of Communications and Community Relations Director Erica-Spencer-EL, Staff Attorney Arthur Eliav and Executive Assistant Karline Jean, all senior employees. Spencer-EL was a 17 year employee, Eliav 15 years and Jean 19 years.

Smith is an exception in that she was a Haynes hire, lasting only 14 months.

Bragging Rights

According to a letter released by anonymous whistleblowers, Haynes’s long time friend and associate Altheria Jackson warned others of his prowess in firing people. “He’s tough,” they say she boasted.

As a patronage hire closely associated with Haynes for over a decade, she was in a position to know as a close up witness.

However cloaked in secrecy in spite of ultimate boss Governor Kathy Hochul’s promises, the RIOC purge that apparently ended Amy Smith’s career with RIOC lacks official details. And it’s been a policy for years that departing employees sign non-disclosure agreements that shield the state while smothering First Amendment rights.

Amy Smith as Public Information Officer

Public information Officer is not the real position for which Smith was hired. It was a title only. Terrance McCauley, who had that title at RIOC until July, 2020, actually did that job. There was a lot of transparency, daily communications and, behind the scenes, spirited wrestling with local media. Amy Smith was not that.

Prior to RIOC, her last job – Communications and Brand Marketing at Gallant Brand Communications – lasted four years. Among other tasks, according to her LinkedIn profile, she provided “…focused branding counsel.”

That fit right in with RIOC’s switch from a “public benefit corporation” to an “employee benefit corporation” with fantastic benefits and high pay for little effective work. This started under Governor Andrew Cuomo but encountered no resistance from the allegedly high-minded Hochul and her team that promised otherwise.

When will it end? Not soon as Haynes appears more dug in than ever, in spite of numerous accusations of misconduct, and with Hochul bolstering his hold on power.

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