At RIOC, a gargantuan fee surge hits Roosevelt Islanders later this year. The increases for resources like Sportspark, tennis courts and the Youth Center tower over those for disabled parking reported yesterday. Budget projections developed by Team Hochul/Haynes near final approval for the fiscal year beginning on April 1st.
by David Stone
After RIOC shut down both Sportspark and the Youth Center indefinitely, speculation emerged that President/CEO Seldom Seen Shelton J. Haynes’s unwillingness to cover operating costs was the culprit. After awarding huge salary increases for himself and his protective inner circle, he balked at community-related costs.
Increased spending for legal fees resulting from multiple lawsuits and investigations is also a factor.
By way of the secretive Executive Chamber in Albany, Governor Kathy Hochul runs RIOC, often including day-to-day issues. Haynes and the Board of
Flunkies… Directors carry out her orders. Team Hochul also oversees Haynes’s strategies. Political flavors are always influential.
Together, this unelected team at RIOC plans a whopping 74.73% residential fee surge, starting April 1st. In dollars and cents, that’s $1,816,000 more than last year. The grand total – $4,246,000 – will be collected from residents. That’s more than 10% of RIOC’s total projected budget.
Specific fee increases agreed on by Hochul and Haynes remain secret, but they will be huge. Expect the bulk of the increases in Sportspark.
An Unacceptable Fee Surge
Paying for services isn’t bad news on the surface, but when you consider that Roosevelt Islanders already pay for nearly all RIOC operations already, it’s beyond indecent.
This year, Seldom Seen Haynes arranged a personal pay increase that took him past Hochul and any other governor in the country. Insurance cost ballooned by $159,738 for reduced coverage because of an overwhelming volume of lawsuits, mostly aimed at Haynes.
Legal fees for outside attorneys swelled from $476,119 budgeted to $925,000 actually spent. Those increases are largely due to costs incurred in employee lawsuits, multiple accusing Haynes of racism.
Against that experience, Governor Hochul and Seldom Seen Haynes invoke the fee surge.
Is There Any Recourse?
Never underestimate the value of noise, but at this point, all the guardrails are down. Although committed to helping Roosevelt Islanders, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright and Senator José Serrano got stiffed by Hochul on a bill geared at marginally improving local presence on RIOC’s board.
Although the legislators coordinated with Roosevelt Islanders on the law, which passed with big margins, Hochul vetoed it. No official effort was made to overturn her rejection.
Liz Kreuger replaces Serrano, this term, but as her committee has a history of approving robotic Cuomo appointees like Conway Ekpo without community input, improvement is not likely.
Then, you’ve got the supposedly locally oriented board that acts like a rubber stamp for anything funneled onto their plates by Hochul and Haynes.
If there is any hope for residents getting a say, it must come from removing Seldom Seen Shelton J. Haynes and pushing for elected board members. Without that much, Roosevelt Islanders will remain stuck in the swirl of New York’s well-established circle of mismanagement and corruption.
Maybe some noise will get Hochul’s attention. Bottom line: she’s responsible for all of it. Demanding that she live up to her promises of transparency and accountability would make a good start.
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