Shelton J. Haynes, RIOC Photo.
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Roosevelt Island Virtual Reality Gifts Shelton Haynes with Super Powers

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In a juvenile, narcissistic twist on virtual reality, RIOC somehow spilled a sugary fantasy into the internet world. Virtual because it was far from real, Who Is Shelton J. Haynes? Everything You Need To Know About the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation CEO and President, renders a bumpy ride through his many alleged achievements.

Reading about this remarkable, yet fictional character instantly sparked WTF-style reactions from residents. Who was this miracle worker anyway, and how did this makebelieve get into an otherwise respectable journal?

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Notable in this glowing profile, not a single comment from any Roosevelt Islander nor RIOC co-worker makes an appearance. It’s like Haynes lives in his own little world graced with showers of achievement and praise.

Except no one else lives or speaks there. Well, yeah, there’s a single quote from Governor Kathy Hochul, but it’s about shoreline resiliency, not Dear Leader.

Virtual Reality and the Community

“Shelton seems to have channeled his inner Donald Trump — paraphrasing — He alone can fix it. Really something,” a longtime resident wrote. This writer requested anonymity because of RIOC’s propensity for retribution, which appears worse under Haynes.

Another went further.

“It might be wise to remove the story,” she wrote to the magazine’s editors, “until the situation is cleared as the accomplishments listed were not his according to posts from island bloggers.” Note: We believe this commenter uses a fictitious name and will not repeat it.

As for the accomplishments credited to Haynes in this article, not one originated during his time as RIOC president, and some were actually completed before he took the office.

In one example, “In the summer of 2021, Haynes and his team dedicated the FDR Hope Memorial near the island’s southern tip,” the article bragged. That happened “with help from the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association.”

In reality – you know, the one the rest of us live in – the Hope Memorial was the brain child of RIDA founder, the late Jim Bates. Haynes had nothing to do with it, except taking credit. The project struggled with fundraising problems until RIOC stepped in with cash. But that was Susan Rosenthal, not Haynes.

After Rosenthal was ambushed and Haynes took over, the Memorial was abandoned until an article in The Daily shamed him into action.

The FDR Hope Memorial overgrown with weeds and abandoned in the summer of 2020.

Why?

More than halfway through the article, it takes a sudden turn.

“Shelton Haynes earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from the esteemed Hampton University, a private, historically Black research university in Virginia. Respected publications, including U.S. News & World ReportThe Princeton Review, and Money magazine, have all named Hampton University one of the top schools in the country.”

So, who cares at that point?

And it unsettles the dust around his resume, at least the one the public sees because RIOC’s board did not hire him nor did it look into his claims of professional genius. Haynes was appointed out of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s secretive Albany chamber.

Some of what is still claimed, especially over his work at the DeKalb County Housing Authority, has been questioned and appears false.

SPONSORED

Sometimes, the things said are as revealing as those not said. Was the unnecessary emphasis on Hampton a tell? Was the author pushing so hard it exposed a falsehood?

We have not been able to confirm his graduation from the school.

“Wonder who helped him write this…” a friend mused. It looks “as though a variety of press releases were forwarded to the writer..” one Anna Papadopoulos and patched together.

This friend suspects someone called NGFY – that is, New Guy From Yonkers, Akeem Jamal – who after four months still seems only vaguely familiar with Roosevelt Island. Who else, really, would say that the Tram is located at 62nd Street, as this article does?

Calling this competent article writing is like calling a dumpster fire a creative kind of urban heating.

Shelton Haynes’s Work

“The state-run RIOC functions like a local government, and Haynes and his team deliver essential services. At the height of the pandemic and when it lacked one, Haynes introduced a rapid COVID-19 testing site to the island, saying, ‘Our mission has been and continues to be providing innovative services that enhance the island’s community.’” 

Ceoworld Magazine

The Swift Emergency Medical COVID-19 Testing site was, of course, a boondoggle, and irregularities involving Haynes are under investigation with the Inspector General.

But the brushstroke of virtual reality that caught our attention was ‘RIOC functions like a local government…” It’s actually more like a patroonship.

Local governments, for example, earn their authority through democracy. Those governed vote, and established protocols directly involve the community in decision-making.

None of that happens here, and credit to the author, Papadopolus makes no claim of Haynes having the slightest link to Roosevelt Islanders or their values.

Read it yourself. The correct title should be Who Is Shelton J. Haynes? Everything He Wants You to Believe About the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation CEO and President.

How Did This Happen?

Some principle other than responsible journalism must be in play here.

“…the catch phrase, in several iterations  … RIOC President and CEO … appears about 7 times — as though a variety of press releases were forwarded to the writer,” a reader commented.

True – this thing reads like a major copy and paste operation, never following a logical course. It’s more like a sponsored post, although it never says so.

But maybe the virtual reality isn’t about the supposed topic at all. Why would Ceoworld readers be interested in a blurb about a troubled executive in a drop-in-the-bucket public authority?

Maybe they’re not. Maybe this is Haynes’s resume repackaged as serious journalism. Badly packaged, that is. Not to raise hopes too high, but is he job-hunting? Is he as eager to leave Roosevelt Island as residents are to wave him goodbye?

If not, explaining this extended piece of work in desperate need of an editor is difficult because he’s been an ineffective cog in a corrupt state operation.

But they didn’t run that story. They ran this one, and some reason other than reporting on reality must be behind it.

The Roosevelt Island Daily News is committed to covering its community without bias or shrinking from thorny issues. We need your support in our mission. Reading is always free but our expenses are not. Please chip in.

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