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December Board Meeting Wraps Up RIOC’s Year on Thursday


The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation’s (RIOC) December Board Meeting takes place on Thursday, December 22nd. It closes out 2022 with a pair of significant approvals as well as lesser matters.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Wrapping Up a Tumultuous Year

After a year hobbled by shrinking community events and troubled by accumulating senior staff departures, RIOC’s December board meeting feels more like gasping over the finish line.

With no gas left in the tank and no electricity stirring the pot for 2023.

The agenda includes a pair of significant items up for board approval and a little housekeeping.

Most important is an approval of the final proposed budget for RIOC’s fiscal year that starts on April 1st. Once approved by the board, the document ships upriver to Albany where it engages with the state budgeting process.

It may come back clean or altered, but for the purposes of December’s board meeting, it’s already canned. While there’s always a little chatter before the inevitable unanimous “Yes” vote, most board members show little evidence of having looked at the details.

From a consumers’ – that is, Roosevelt Islanders’ – point of view, details exposed in the budget have shrunken dramatically during the Haynes Administration. The community is less informed about what it’s paying for, but the board is not troubled.

Solidifying the New York Community Trust Screwup

A year ago, after a yearslong series of ridiculous dustups over fouled-up Public Purpose Grants, RIOC punted. They turned the whole mess over to an allegedly objective team at New York Community Trust.

The granting organization did something many felt impossible, making things even worse while fulfilling RIOC’s most alarming ambitions.

This year, RIOC asks the board for a two-year extension without any guarantee of fixes for the major flaws.

Of course, the most glaring flaw is in the foundation. That is, although state law allows RIOC to devote 3% of its operating budget to public purpose grants helping local nonprofits, the cheapskate state agency has never approached offering as much as 1%.

Bloated executive salaries – CEO Haynes now pays himself more than Governor Kathy Hochul – and other hidden expenses may leave too little left over for other spending. Or, as other actions suggest, the board is simply hostile toward the community generally.

Filling Out the December Board Meeting Agenda

A vote on a calendar for 2023 board meetings allows members to plan for their annual series of “Yes” votes. You don’t want to be caught with unlubricated bobbleheads when Albany tells you what your vote will be.

And then, the President’s Report offers Shelton J. Haynes a chance to mumble through whatever he wants to share from his perch in Blackwell House. If he chooses to open up – Hint: He won’t – he may explain why Sportspark will remain closed until March after repeated promises to have reconstruction work over and done by the end of 2022.

The whole truth and nothing but the truth are not on the agenda.

Finally, the Public Safety Report highlights how RIOC’s most expensive department passes the time while not focusing on actual public safety.

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