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RIOC Communications Fumbles Continue with New AVP


Even with a shiny new Assistant Vice President in place, RIOC Communications remain as disconnected from reality as ever. Necessary messages never appear, and a strange reliance on social media dominates.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

When unqualified Assistant Vice President Akeem Jamal captured a RIOC seat in August, it was fair to assume that communications would improve. They have, but it’s marginal and uninformed.

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A chaotic approach to RIOC communications relies heavily on lightly used social media for relaying information./Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A Pair of Major Miscues

Administrations prior to that of bunkered chief Shelton J. Haynes used a mailing list in releasing RIOC Advisories. These kept residents and other interested parties informed about everything from COVID restrictions to sponsored events. Not anymore.

After the Roosevelt Island Visual Art Association (RIVAA) rescued the 2022 Fall for Arts Festival that Haynes wanted to dump, RIOC ghosted them. No festival announcement ever scarred the RIOC Advisories system, leaving most people – and the artists – completely in the dark. RIVAA issued an email blast of their own, but the state agency never repeated it on their likely much larger list.

Also and more disturbing, RIOC failed to release an advisory when Governor Kathy Hochul lifted the mask-wearing mandate for public transit. Expectations are low for RIOC, but multiple residents complained. The state agency was unmoved.

RIOC posted both on Facebook and Twitter. Although this got glowing acceptance from the master of copy and paste, it failed to get a single “like” on Twitter or a retweet. That is, hardly anyone saw it.

The new RIOC communications director is clueless about social media. Not a single individual, group or location was tagged. Tagging is a key element in getting noticed. Someone let Mr. Jamal know.

Similarly, RIOC’s post on Facebook got just 3 “likes” but was salted with several negative comments.

But then, of course, you had informative press releases… Kidding!

RIOC Communications and the President/CYA

RIOC Advisories did push out a couple of notices, one of them repeated ad nauseum. First, though, is the unintended humor.

While the Department of Transportation scheduled Roosevelt Island Bridge closings, RIOC diligently sent out countless notices, choking email boxes. But the funny part was how it was addressed on Facebook. RIOC directed at something called “Roosevelt Island goers…”

What the hell is that?

The other recent Advisory was just cheesy. After blasting Motorgate parkers with huge fee increases, the state agency that never gets it wrong did what it always does. They pointed a finger at somebody else.

In a letter attributed – he didn’t write it – to President/CYA Shelton J. Haynes, RIOC blamed their contractor for making a mistake. If you believe SP Plus, operators of the parking garage, did that all on their own, I want to talk to you about investing in Trump University.

We take for granted that Jamal actually wrote the CYA letter throwing shade at SP Plus because it’s well written and follows a logical sequence. While people who’ve worked with Haynes describe him as scheming and lazy, all his prior correspondence also incorporated a touch of none-too-bright into the mix.

We can’t tell when or if RIOC Communications will reach the benchmarks of other far less expensive state agencies, but we’ll be watching for signs of progress.

And we will always get back to you.

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