This can’t be the real Akeem Jamal, promising he’d “elevate Roosevelt Island’s public profile to the national stage,” can it? Echoing his boss, Seldom Seen Shelton J. Haynes, who promised to elevate the Island too, just last month? Fortunately, neither has any vision whatsoever as to how or even why he would do whatever that is. And Haynes, RIOC’s President/CEO has the leadership aptitude of a dripping faucet. The result: they will reward themselves with lots of money without doing much other harm.
by David Stone
RIOC Talks to the Media, But Only in Press Releases
This news arrives through a press release popping out quietly on January 5th.
In it, Jamal says he “plans to work with a dynamic team to elevate Roosevelt Island’s public profile to the national stage while working to achieve measurable results in increasing tourism and protecting the quality of life enjoyed by the island’s residents.”
While this statement posits contradictory goals without hope of reconciliation, the “dynamic team” thing sent red flags flying. What the hell team is that? Team Hochul/Haynes? The only dynamic thing there is the rush to the bank on payday.
Jamal’s ambitions are supported by a sturdy list of his achievements for the City of Yonkers. While holding an office no higher than Assistant Communications Director, he practically ran the place, according to the press release.
Among other things, “His efforts yielded growth, as Yonkers rose from the fourth-largest to the third-largest city in the state…”
It begs the question, though. Why would this wunderkind depart Yonkers (Population 216,246) to seek his fortune on Roosevelt Island (Population 11,771)? Some hefty chunk of that puzzle is missing, but it finds a home inside the RIOC bunker where it lingers in the None of Your Business Department.
Also, “his efforts focused on building the city while ensuring that it remained a prime destination for residents and tourists alike — a dynamic he’s now bringing to Roosevelt Island.”
Keep in mind that that “prime destination for…tourists” is Yonkers, surely good news for Roosevelt Islanders craving to be more like that Hidden Gem on the Hudson.
So, Who’s Blowing the Real Akeem Jamal’s Horn?
Interested in the source for this rave review disguised as a press release, we checked and… Oh, no! The author, referring to himself repeatedly in the third person, is none other than the real Akeem Jamal.
And the press release appeared a pay-to-publish mill chugging out press release after press release, not burdened by fact-checking. As of this writing, they chugged out 436 of them in the last 24 hours on a holiday weekend and averaged around a thousand per day over the full year.
In his hilarious Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot, Al Franken wrote that the easiest job in the world was “Rush Limbaugh’s fact checker.” But we may have a challenger here.
The “Hidden Gem” Thing
“Akeem Jamal shares in the vision of reinvigoration for New York’s hidden gem as he takes on a new responsibilities with Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation,” Jamal wrote. (The missing “the” was part of an overall sloppiness throughout.) It was a reminder of media clowns in the 1990s who used to talk about themselves as detached third persons.
It’s also a reminder of how sloppy the real Akeem Jamal, earning $150K per year, is as a writer. “…takes on a new responsibilities…? in the first paragraph?
This is amateur night stuff, careless mistakes right where you need to shine. And make no mistake, there is no hint of any vision anywhere in all the sentences that follow.
And what’s with the “hidden gem” thing?
Fact: Roosevelt Island is not a gem nor is it hidden. That’s Twentieth Century craving for attention stuff, and it got tired decades ago.
Roosevelt Island is a community revising its identity after major changes and a pandemic brought over a decade of continuous disruption. And if the community “wants more tourists” as Seldom Seen Shelton told the New York Times – he also got the population wrong – it’s news to those of us who live here.
But the likes of Jamal and Haynes keep pushing that button. Failed at integrating RIOC and the community forced to pay its expenses, what else have they got?
It’s a fool’s errand though because they’ve promoted virtually not a single tourist attraction except the Tram. And overpromotion there led to miserable conditions inside the cabins Roosevelt Islanders once relied on for transportation.
These days, the ride is often overcrowded with tourists who join the locals in lines, waiting to get their four-minute joy ride.
What the Real Akeem Jamal and the Hochul/Haynes Team at RIOC Misses
There really are hidden gems on Roosevelt Island, but they’re mostly inadvertent. Although the two-plus miles of earth packed over a ridge of Manhattan schist are the grounds for multiple exciting historic sites, they go unmentioned.
It’s not so odd that the communications team that, in a December Haynes promo, located the Tram Plaza at 62nd Street, would be blind to the real jewels.
The historically marked Chapel of the Good Shepherd, across the street from Jamal’s office, if and when he works here, gets nary a nod. The Small Pox Hospital? No. The Eighteenth Century Blackwell House? You’d hardly know it was there if not for Seldom Seen Shelton seizing the second floor for his bunker.
Perhaps most troubling is the abandonment of Amanda Matthews’s The Girl Puzzle, just a year after its ribbon-cutting. It falls in line with the failure to recognize Lighthouse Park at all while turning a promised expansion into a virtual dump.
That along with turning a blind eye to Roosevelt Island’s most thrilling site, FDR For Freedoms State Park. Renowned for its graceful serenity, a Manhattan oasis from the noise and haste, it rarely gets a nod.
Jamal can hardly be blamed while employed by a Haynes/Hochul administration as clueless as Donald Trump singing the praises of Bed-Stuy. But it’s fair to expect a young man making top dollar as a communications exec to know better than tooting his own horn in a press release mill and expecting anyone to notice.
As far as we can find, the real Akeem Jamal’s flag-waving did not inspire a single news article anywhere – except this one.