Governor Kathy Hochul Has A Message for Roosevelt Islanders: Get Lost!

Governor Kathy Hochul Has A Message for Roosevelt Islanders: Get Lost!

“Get lost!” The message from Albany shot loud and clear down the Hudson, landing on our little Island. Hochul vetoed a bill constructed by Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright and Senator José Serrano, coordinating with Roosevelt Islanders. The bill aimed to create more local authority and transparency in running RIOC. This displeased the governor because it impeded patronage dump operations.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

The proposed changes were not dramatic. As activist Joyce Short pointed out, they fell far short of the level of democracy Roosevelt Islanders wanted.

The bill did not require voting for RIOC board members, nor did it demand transparency or accountability, two features of good government sadly missing at the state agency.

What it did, if passed was establish a residency pattern on the board. First, if a board member moves off Roosevelt Island, he or she would resign. But this is something conscientious board members like Jeffrey Escobar did anyway and Cuomo suckups like David Kappel refused.

No dice said Hochul, also to the requirement that she must appoint new board members to vacant seats within sixty days. Apparently, that was too fast for the Cuomo-Hochul political favoritism machine. Finding automatic “Yes” votes takes time.

But most puzzling was the minor add-on mandating job postings on RIOC’s website. Openly advertising them locally, bringing residents into the employee mix, wasn’t even needed.

Yet, Hochul slammed that too.

Are you getting the message that there’s more here than a simple update to RIOC’s operations?

Get Lost! What It Means for Roosevelt Islanders

The ringing message from Hochul and her handlers is that Roosevelt Islanders remain at the bottom of the heap when it comes to local governance. She doesn’t care more than Cuomo did, and her prattle about accountability and transparency was balderdash.

Just like her permanently grimacing predecessor, it’s all about patronage and securing votes by doling out favors. At residents’ expense. Looking nicer and dressing better does not make Hochul less of a hack or tyrant than Cuomo was.

Ask yourself: if not for political purposes, would Shelton Haynes still be RIOC’s ever-bumbling, overpaid executive director? Come on. The man wasn’t put there because he showed great promise in leadership.

He got the job over better-qualified staff because he has a sponsor in the Democratic hierarchy. And he’s staying for the same reason. And a major part of his assignment is promoting and overpaying other loyalists. Reference the bizarre hiring of Akeem Jamal at twice the salary of his predecessors for less than half the skills.

The young man pulls down $150K as Communications AVP, but he struggles at writing a simple sentence.

The sturdiest of the underlying messages in Hochul’s “Get lost” edict is that things are not going to change here, not so long as the Democratic machine is in power. And that will hold until a serious challenger puts up something less disgusting than the MAGA cheeseball the Republicans vomited this year.


Here’s why Hochul’s “Get Lost” matters. For the benefit of newcomers and others who may not know…

  • The state does not contribute a dime to RIOC’s operations.
  • The vast majority comes from a hidden RIOC tax. Real managers siphon RIOC’s $30 million from residents out of rent and other fees.
  • Residents have no say in how the money is spent or who runs the state agency.
  • The governor runs RIOC through appointed, nameless handlers in Albany who tell Haynes what to do and who to do it with.

Is this in any sense of the phrase “the American way?’

You can just hear Hochul’s next “Get lost” streaming south along the Hudson River.

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