RIOC added Akeem Jamal to its staff as Assistant Vice President for Communications in August. The salary range is projected at around $140,000, and there are great benefits. But Jamal does not meet the published minimum RIOC requirements. He doesn’t come close. So, why was he hired?
by David Stone
We may have gotten it wrong, back in February, when we guessed why RIOC posted three new jobs on Indeed. The minimum RIOC requirements were daunting. We speculated on a gambit that would reward current employees through backdoor raises.
Instead, RIOC fired all of them for reasons that are not entirely clear. But it’s rumored around the state agency that President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes brags about his skill at firing people and getting away with it.
To our knowledge, Akeem Jamal is the first replacement. But it’s mysterious because he does not meet the RIOC requirements posted publicly. Many others do.
Jamal starts out with a clear advantage, though, because anyone who can string together three sentences without grammar or punctuation errors is a major step up at RIOC.
What Are the RIOC Requirements
When RIOC posted the openings in February, the minimums were clear:
SKILLS & QUALIFICATIONS:
• Minimum of seven (7) years of experience, with not less than five (5) years in management role related to communications, public relations, or external relationships (including government or non-profit realm).
EDUCATION & EXPERIENCE:
The successful candidate must have a broad range of skills, but above all, they must be curious, flexible thinkers who love learning new things and tackling challenges daily. In addition, the preferred candidate should possess the following:
- A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in English, Journalism, Communications, Public Relations, Marketing, or related field preferred; five (5+) plus years of experience (academic and/or professional) with design software, including Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, etc. Photography experience and proficiency with photo editing software. Knowledge of WordPress and content management systems a plus.
- A four-year high school diploma or its educational equivalent approved by a State’s Department of Education or a recognized accrediting organization and ten (10) years of experience of full-time satisfactory experience as described in “1” above; or
- A satisfactory combination of education and/or experience which is equivalent to “1” or “2” above. Graduate study in the field of communications, public relations or journalism or other related fields may be substituted for up to one (1) year of the required experience based on thirty (30) credits equaling one (1) year of experience. Graduation from an accredited school may be substituted for one (1) year of the required experience. However, all candidates must have at least seven (7+) plus years of experience as described above.
As a twenty-five-year-old who went straight to work with the City of Yonkers out of high school, Jamal cannot meet the minimum RIOC requirements listed. Although two of the three previous hires who filled an equivalent role did.
Alonza Robertson and Terrence McCauley were both professional public relations specialists with years of successful experience. We can’t say much about Jamal because, soon after we began investigating, he pulled down his LinkedIn profile, erasing his disclosed history.
But we do know enough from published reports that he has a troubled history with multiple reckless driving lawsuits and an arrest for drunken driving. He was also cited for defying mask-wearing mandates at City Hall during a COVID breakout. News reports at the time called him “a superspreader.”
It’s impossible squaring this with the RIOC requirements for experience or for those implied in anticipated good conduct.
So, why was he hired?