Think taking a horse tranquilizer. Think about having your worst concerns soaked in cold water. Or think “Good grief,” like Charlie Brown. Altogether, you’ll get the impact of RIOC’s April 2023 board meeting, a singular chance at setting things right that Seldom Seen Shelton J. Haynes showed no interest in grasping.
by David Stone
In relationship to the turmoil and spiking issues involving RIOC, the sheer boredom of sitting through the April 2023 board meeting thuds like few things can thud. Issues in dire need of attention slipped by a passive board needing immediate, living replacements.
RIOC’s April 2023 Board Meeting
The evening’s highlight arrived early, in the public session. Leader Susana del Campo Perea introduced her Girl Scout troop, each member present taking a turn at bragging about their achievements. It was refreshing watching the young scouts so proud of their awards and their hard work.
No Roosevelt Islanders could be proud of the slog that followed.
First, the board went into an hour-long executive session, privately discussing “pending litigation.” That was boring but fun compared to what followed.
The Lapsed Insurance Binders
Chief Counsel Gretchen Robinson soon called on Acting Chief Financial Officer Daeman DeStefano, and the all-new “Acting” title set bells ringing. It replaced “Assistant” and signaled a warning.
In an apparently staged presentation, aided by board member Howard Polivy, DeStefano argued that insurance coverage had not lapsed on Friday, leaving RIOC vulnerable. His mumbled explanation of how this magic happened was incomprehensible.
It, nonetheless, tickled the board like kids getting cotton candy loaded with empty calories.
Equally incomprehensible was DeStefano’s rambling rationale for a huge rate increase leaving insurance costs gobbling up nearly 15% of RIOC’s annual budget. He never mentioned the Haynes lawsuits, noted last year as a primary cause for increases for reduced coverage.
The April 2023 board meeting wasn’t going well, but then, there was this…
Before he stopped tossing the word salad, DeStefano nervously told the sleepy board that the increases left RIOC with a half-million-dollar budget hole. There were no suggestions about how it might be filled nor any sign that anyone on the board awakened.
And other than that offhand comment, no mention of RIOC’s precarious fiscal situation surfaced.
The President’s Report
The rest of the meeting dealt with routine business needing board approval leading to the horse tranquilizer effect of RIOC’s Dear Leader…
President/CEO Seldom Seen Shelton J. Haynes, making an appearance for the first time since October, enhanced the thud. As in the past, he mumbled through a happy-happy recitation of all the swell things going on in his world.
Some of it was on the verge of sickening.
Without ever mentioning a single individual, Haynes thanked his loyalist staff for whatever it was he wants Roosevelt Islanders to believe they’d accomplished. And when it came to announcing recognition for work done in restoring the lighthouse – a project in which he played no role – Haynes failed to credit the architect, the historical consultant or his predecessor who launched and funded the work.
In fact, Haynes never credited anyone by name except his wonderful self. At one point, he mused that only one RIOC manager had ever served longer. That made sense too because who the hell would hire this guy for this money and why would he leave voluntarily?
But that’s quibbling relative to the soaring hypocrisy.
Motorgate and Sportspark
Haynes actually vocally appreciated the “advocacy” that hobbled his plans for outrageous fees for parking and playing at Sportspark. (Note to Shelton: It wasn’t advocacy; it was outrage.)
But then, he doubled down on his most crippling flaws.
Despite his alleged boss, HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskis, pledging improved community involvement under pressure from Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright at an Albany hearing last month, he announced that revised pricing for both would be released soon.
There has been no public consultation with residents on either nor has Seldom Seen Shelton offered any explanation or apology for the egregious errors. He just tripped the light fantastic as if his gross abuse of resident rights were no worse than slipping on a banana peel.
Watch out for what comes next. Haynes and RIOC operate without guardrails amid a growing financial crisis that goes unrecognized.
See you all at the bottom of the hill.