RIOC Launches An Amateurish “Traffic Data Collection Survey”


It’s hard to take seriously any “Traffic Data Collection Survey” when the first line in the announcement is as cumbersome as it is illiterate. Nothing that follows, including the survey, improves the perception of overall incompetence. But what this exercise in deception implies is more concerning than ineptness, if only because we’re used to that.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Here’s how one longtime Roosevelt Islander described it: “Yet even more evidence that Akeem still IS the ‘New Guy From Yonkers,’ judging by this really terrible, incomplete and stupid survey. He still knows nothing about Roosevelt Island, its residents, the businesses and especially the folks who work here…”

I took the survey. This Roosevelt Islander was generous. The traffic data collection survey is worse than that. The $150K per year AVP with not enough experience or skill put together a below-average high school project that serves no legitimate purpose.

Except for the standard RIOC kissing the ring part.

Start with the Friday afternoon announcement: “As part of the President Haynes’ recently announced Roosevelt Island Roadways and Paved Surfaces Rehabilitation Project…”

When I paste this in, the red “error” alert pops up instantly. “…the President Haynes’…” is enough to make you shudder. It achieves the almost impossible, earning two grammatical errors in just three words. In the opening sentence yet…

And a question: How can RIOC hire and retain a $150K per year expert who can’t construct a literate sentence and doesn’t know how to handle the possessive tense?

According to this crippled sentence, there are multiples of “the President Hayne,” a prospect sending horror shockwaves ripping all along Main Street.

Is it sadistic to pay the communications whiz kid a ballooning $150K and not kick in for a grammar check program?

Just trying to help the kid out…

The Traffic Data Collection Survey

“The physical survey will be made available by staff at the red bus and tram between Monday, 2/13, and Saturday, 2/18 until end of operation,” RIOC says.

Will “staff” actually hang out at these unidentified locations for the roughly 20 hours a day that the Tram and buses are running? For five full days?

Will they hand out the surveys or assist in filling them in? Will they distinguish residents from tourists and other visitors? What does “end of operation” mean?

These considerations are all moot, though, because the survey itself is so lame that it’s nearly useless.

Here’s how one resident who took the survey described it: “I saw it, and I took it. That’s how I know how stupid it is. It’s a bad survey and helps no one.”

Take it yourself here, if you have a minute or two to waste. You can just imagine the 12th graders scrambling at the last minute, wrapping up a homework project that’s due on Monday morning.

These posters will soon litter surfaces all over Roosevelt Island. The survey itself is useless, but this is about kissing the ring, not gathering useful information.

So, What’s the Real Deal Here?

Keeping in mind here that RIOC President/CEO Seldom Seen Shelton J. Haynes has the leadership skills of a used eggbeater, two possibilities come to mind.

But first, be aware that, if he or RIOC, which is ultimately run by Governor Kathy Hochul, really wanted Roosevelt Islanders’ input, they’d have arranged a town hall like Haynes’s predecessors did. Even when it was painful, embarrassing or raucous as it was when RIOC’s board held two open meetings over the fate of the Youth Center.

Haynes and Hochul prefer the bunker approach because they don’t really want your opinions or ideas. They want the charade of democracy to swing permanently.

Two Possibilities

ONE: Haynes has been under pressure to fulfill his promise of a traffic safety plan made a year and a half ago. He volunteered the effort after cars struck three people, including a child, on Main Street. That was clearly far beyond Seldom Seen Shelton’s abilities, and after he stripped RIOC’s staff of its most able veterans, he left himself without anyone capable of carrying his water. This may be a deflection, the appearance of taking action. Nothing unusual in that for the Hochul/Haynes administration.

TWO: Given the hapless questions in the survey, no reasonable resident will believe it’s serving the innocent appearing purpose. More likely intent, if not the window dressing suggested above, is the staged setting for curtailing services. That would fulfill an apparent mission by Hochul and Haynes of reducing expenses and keeping more of the cash for themselves. They can always claim that they sought resident input. No risk of the spineless RIOC board doing anything more than nodding “Yes.”

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