Over the last ten years, RIOC President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes left a trail of enemies behind after ruining or damaging many careers. Creating an impression of him as more grifter than a leader, they help build the case against him. It’s neither simple nor obvious because he has supporters too. But the total weighs heavily in one direction.
This is Part Two of a story we started yesterday: The Case Against Shelton Haynes Is Strong. So, Why Is He Still Here?
by David Stone
Disregarded But On the Record
Sometimes, what’s not readily apparent tells more than what is. That’s true of the contaminated water scandal that engulfed RIOC in 2018. It erupted after RIOC’s parks director Mary Cunneen tried evicting the Wildlife Freedom Foundation’s animal sanctuary in Southpoint Park.
She first accused WFF of abusing the public water supply, but when that failed, fallback position after fallback position also flopped until something worse was exposed.
Thanks to the efforts of Roosevelt Islander Frank Farance, we found out that RIOC had supplied drinking water contaminated with animal feces and toxins in water fountains all around Roosevelt Island. For decades.
RIOC never disputed the findings but did whatever it could to evade responsibility. They shut down all of their drinking fountains for a couple of years but never confessed openly. Fear of lawsuits kept them in bunker mode.
In the aftermath, RIOC fired two Caucasian employees who were open about the situation in public meetings. One, Steve Noone had a strong work history and was popular with the community, but he got canned too after failing to lie or evade to protect his bosses.
Shelton J. Haynes was the self-appointed COO, then, and responsible for grounds and facilities. He stayed. But he wasn’t simply protected, he was invisible.
Mary Cunneen, who triggered the avalanche? She got chewed out by then-CEO Susan Rosenthal but kept her job. According to a reliable source, she was on the chopping block with Rosenthal before Haynes aided in her firing.
Haynes recently promoted Cunneen to COO, although she had no prior experience at that level and a questionable background. Her salary is $190,000 per year, and she is very loyal.
The Case Against Shelton Haynes Becomes Undeniable in 2020
Recent confidential disclosures bring the curtain down on any doubts about Haynes’s secret maneuvers in getting his boss and supporter Susan Rosenthal fired in public disgrace.
Probably not for the first time, in early 2020, Haynes took a telephone call from Rosenthal in his office. Multiple sources confirm that he put her on speaker, pulled out his personal cellphone and recorded their conversation.
As his mentor, Rosenthal talked freely with Haynes, offering advice and personal insight. And in this conversation, she used a euphemism while making clear that racists would judge him unfairly for conduct any Caucasian would get away with.
As one outside observer noted, “Susan has no filter.”
Rather than accept her advice, Haynes saved the recording and played it for other RIOC employees secretly. All those who heard it were African American, and it fanned resentment toward Rosenthal.
As then-CFO John O’Reilly told me shortly after her dismissal, “Susan doesn’t have a racist bone in her body.” But Haynes made it look like she did.
This recording, which would get laughed out of court, was used as the primary evidence against Rosenthal. But in making the recording at all as well as not reporting the alleged violation, Haynes overstepped the boundaries set by GOER, New York’s official employee guide.
GOER rules require immediate reporting of offenses observed by managers. As Vice President of Operations, Haynes fell under that mandate.
But instead of playing by the rules, he used his recording to undermine Rosenthal until Cuomo’s Executive Chamber needed it in a racially charged move against Rosenthal.
As far as any records show, Haynes was not reprimanded or penalized. On the contrary, Cuomo gave him Rosenthal’s job – hastily on Juneteenth 2020. This led to allegations that Haynes played footsie with Cuomo’s team in a racist scheme against his boss and mentor.
Whether he did that – and evidence strongly suggests he did – his antics with the recording may not be illegal, but they are clearly unethical.
As this and other evidence shows, Haynes should never have been promoted. Instead, he should have been fired long ago, sparing the community from years of mismanagement and division.
The revelations and why he is still here continue in Part Three…