In New Shelton J. Haynes Promo, Marvel at All the Things He Didn’t Really Do


In the latest of a series of Shelton J. Haynes promos, titled – believe it or not – Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, Under CEO Shelton Haynes, Finalizes Riverwalk Neighborhood With Developers, RIOC‘s President towers over everyone and everything. This amateurish regurgitation of previous declarations of his glory comes off as a desperate plea for unearned respect.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

When I was first freelancing articles a decade and a half ago, smart advice led us to shorten research by finding three articles online about topics we wanted to cover. Then, we’d patch elements of all three together, add a personal touch and post it.

You’d use elements of the best, add a pinch of your own for spice and get a Google search-friendly place in the internet universe.

If you weren’t careful, you’d also replicate errors, and if you were really lazy, you’d plagiarize, copying text verbatim.

That’s kinda what the NEWS ANYWAY writer did in the new Haynes promo. Except without the integrity or the accuracy most of us had as amateurs.

The whole piece is riddled with errors. We don’t have an aerial Tram, for example; we have a “cable car.”

And how’s this for unmitigated gall? Roosevelt Island’s ” reputation as a best-kept-secret seemed secure until Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation and its chief executive officer, Shelton Haynes, invigorated the location…” No wonder Seldom Seen Shelton makes more money than any governor in the United States.


As it all sinks in, the biggest error is the lionizing of Haynes, crediting him with things with which he had little to no involvement. And not crediting anyone else, not even Governor Andrew Cuomo who gifted him to us nor Governor Kathy Hochul behind whose skirts he hides.

The Shelton J. Haynes Promo

What this article inadvertently does is expose Haynes’s failures. That is, if you really get things done, you don’t have to “borrow” anyone elses’ credits.

Start with the title. Haynes claims credit for Riverwalk Building #9 when, in reality, the deal was cut during the administration of Susan Rosenthal. She and Hudson President David Kramer made a hard sell that got board approval. The brought in experts to hammer home the value, but Haynes was not a player.

Yet, “I cannot wait to get shovels in the ground to unveil our latest investment that will continue the tremendous economic boom we are experiencing,” Haynes says in the article, months after the work started.

This is one of the multiple instances where quotes and whole descriptions used previously back up Haynes’s false claims. There are numerous others, too many to repeat here.

“CEO Shelton Haynes champions the developments and invites residents and tourists to visit the island’s businesses, parks, restaurants, and other attractions,” is another.

When, you wonder, did that happen? But then, there’s a sprint to fantasy.

Under Haynes’ direction, RIOC unveiled the FDR Hope Memorial honoring President Franklin D. Roosevelt in July 2021 and a monument for journalist Nellie Bly in December 2021. Acting as ambassadors for the Roosevelt Island brand, RIOC sold investors on the island’s potential. The public relations campaign led to new retail and hospitality construction.


In the world where the rest of us live, both achievements simply topped off Rosenthal’s work. Haynes actually did nothing until The Daily shamed his team for abandoning the Hope project.

The Hope Memorial before The Daily shamed RIOC in an August 2020 article.

Falsehoods Abound Where Real Wins Aren’t Available

In a decidedly weird section of the Haynes promo, titled RIOC, Shelton Haynes, Finish FDR Memorial That Began in 1973, they take the misrepresentation much farther.

“Another feather in RIOC and Shelton Haynes’ caps is the completion of a long-awaited project RIOC began in 1973.” That would be FDR Four Freedoms State Park.

But that happened in 2012 before Shelton J. Haynes was a twinkle in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s eye. 

“In July 2021, RIOC and its current CEO, Shelton Haynes, unveiled the park’s final stage, the FDR Hope Memorial.” But the Hope Memorial is neither in nor part of Four Freedoms Park.

What’s worse, though, is what isn’t said. No credit is given to the late Jim Bates, founder of the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association, who fought for a decade to get funding. Nor does Wendy Hersh, who kept the drive going, get so much as a tip of the hat.

Because it’s all about Seldom Seen Shelton Hayes, his predecessor, Susan Rosenthal, who got board approval for the final funding to get the project to the finish line, gets no mention.

Haynes’s true role was spending the money that Rosenthal added for a design completed before Haynes landed on Roosevelt Island.

Also Missing from the Haynes Promo

While falsely praising Haynes for Herculean achievements, the article reports not one other member of Team RIOC as a contributor. If anyone from the community helped out or volunteered – and many did – they were crushed by Haynes.

Besides Rosenthal, Erica Spencer-EL and Jessica Cerone contributed heavily to every important project before and after Haynes’s promotion to CEO. And Prince Shah guided The Girl Puzzle and The FDR Hope Memorial to completion.

Local architect Tad Sudol had a hand in awarding Amanda Matthews with the right to create her Girl Puzzle in Lighthouse Park, and historian Judith Berdy played a crucial role in rehabilitating Blackwell House while numerous Islanders pitched in with ideas, money and time, finishing Jim Bates dream of the Hope Memorial.

Haynes appears unable to share credit with anyone. A big man, he’s small in spirit and generosity.


The genesis of this latest in a string of Haynes promos is hard to pin down because RIOC is deeply bunkered behind unmarked offices. They do not answer media questions nor do they pump out professional, balanced press releases.

But something’s amiss when a state agency contributes public resources to the vanity of a single, unaccomplished employee. Not only is this new article rife with false and repetitious claims, but it also commits the grossest error in online publishing.

For a decade now, Google has ferreted out awkward attempts at overpowering rivals with “keyword stuffing.”

With “Shelton Haynes and RIOC” in three of four headlines, this article spirals to the bottom in search results… before repetitions sprinkle the rest of the article like someone losing their marbles.

In the end, you wonder what the real game is here. Why is someone – klutzy as it is – devoting time to prop up a failing leader? Is he auditioning for a spot elsewhere? Or building a reputation in case Hochul comes to her senses and drops the axe on his tether and the dazzling salary it demands…

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