Before Shelton J. Haynes ambled in, often the most interesting part of any Board meeting was The President’s Report. Previous President Susan Rosenthal, aware she was talking to the community as well as the Board, laid out successes and challenges. There was a sense of direction and purpose, even when you disagreed. Haynes replaced that with something else: self-promotion and the dishonesty that rides along with it.
by David Stone
At the tail end of a meeting that, for the first time in ages, saw flickers of life, Haynes turned to his standard, sleep-inducing tactic: Death by PowerPoint.
Adding to his already record pace for repeating the ambiguous term “well received” more than anyone else in the history of the universe, he went on for only a few minutes for a change. When bragging on himself, Haynes is frequently beset with the Filibuster Reflex.
But not this time, and with any luck, it’s because the clattering avalanche of complaints, lawsuits and disgust scraped off some of the Teflon.
The expected volume of deception and dishonesty as a percentage remained stable, though.
“Highlights” From the June 2022 President’s Report
- Roosevelt Island Day was “well received,” Haynes said. An event that pre-Haynes included a bounce house for kids, miniature railroad rides, T-shirt giveaways and multiple concerts, now reduced to a handful of non-profits tugged out for weekend promos… was well received. By whom, exactly?
- Mumbling evasively through his refusal to meet the needs of the community for transportation during the Tram shutdowns… That was fun. And more to come in July.
- Thanking – Yes, actually thanking – his staff for arranging a half-assed Roosevelt Island July 4th in which the community will be denied access to its own Southpoint Park for picnics, fireworks and everything else except using the toilets and trudging through to a far more community-sensitive FDR Four Freedoms State Park. And they look even loonier shooing residents into Cornell Tech’s meadows where they can battle for space with visitors from who knows where.
- And he praised the RIOC Youth Program for serving, from rough observation, about half as many kids as the nonprofit the state maneuvered out.
And the Lowlights
- Escaping the cheerful President’s notice – the lingering absence of any news on the bank he claimed to be working on recruiting for the Island. Haynes promised updates, but we didn’t get one.
- A couple of months back, the board approved a contract for assessing emergency repairs for a long stretch of underground pipes threatening the east seawall with a “catastrophic” collapse. Nothing in the PowerPoint there.
- Also skipping the boss’s attention was the Southtown Dog Run where RIOC’s deep thinkers decided spreading a thick layer of fertilizer was a great idea. The alternative he cooked up – with Common Council President Rossana Ceruzzi – under the Queensboro Bridge, where dogs and their owners could be showered with debris while playing on contaminated wastes, didn’t get a notice.
- And last but not least, the Traffic Safety Plan he promised, way back in October, was apparently not quite ready yet. The RIOC Brain Trust must still be hard at discovering what crosswalks and stop signs really mean.
A Happy Face Chief Executive
Here in Happy Valley, only the good news matters, even when it isn’t really very good. And communicating openly and honestly with the board and the community is oh, so passé.
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