Shelton Haynes: Diversity Hero or Now Being Shown the Door?


According to an article in New York Weekly, RIOC’s Shelton J. Haynes is a diversity hero and an inclusion champion. While the report paints a picture few Roosevelt Islanders will recognize, it’s a paid advertorial that’s, in political circles, sort of like paying for sex. You can’t get positive results the normal way; so, you lay out cash for it. At the same time, strong rumors suggest Haynes is about to leave Roosevelt Island. Here’s what we found yesterday.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

The leak came first.

“Shelton’s going on a six-month leave of absence,” I was told.

“What?” I reacted in disbelief.

After all the lawsuits and accusations of racism and worse hurled at Haynes, it seemed nothing could dislodge him from his Blackwell House Bunker.

An insider had leaked that the leave of absence news came during a staff meeting this week.

This is not confirmed, but the source has always been reliable in the past. We’ll get into it later…

But First, Shelton J. Haynes as a Diversity Hero

The heading was too long:

Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation President and CEO Shelton J. Haynes’ Administration Understood the Importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

New York Weekly

But it has a familiar ring, doesn’t it?

Numerous personal promotions paid for by residents have championed Haynes for his good works. None, however, came from legitimate news sources. All are paid advertorials, and this one cost us 300 bucks.

“We are a PR firm’s best friend,” they say. (Hey, sailor! Looking for some fun?)

In his own words…

“No matter your color, creed, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation, I wholeheartedly believe I have set the standard of achievement for others to follow when the time comes to welcome someone new.”

Shelton J. Haynes
Does this look like diversity and/or inclusion to you? The two largest demographic groups living on Roosevelt Island are Caucasians and Asians. But they mostly escaped notice in the Haynes administration. (Photo first appeared in the New York Weekly advertorial as the Haynes management team.)

Haynes said, “It’s an added bonus having complementary pieces who happen to be minorities. However, when given a résumé, I first look at the experience of the individual, not their name or background.”

But multiple lawsuits and resident complaints accuse Haynes of racism, of systematically removing Caucasians from management and filling posts with African Americans. The photo above speaks for itself.

“I let people write their own futures and carve their own paths here at RIOC. You can be, and go on to achieve just about anything, within reason; there are boundless opportunities for unlimited growth,” Haynes said.

“Unlimited growth” can be read as overstaffing and bloated salaries.

No resident quotes accompany the advertorial, and the community itself is barely mentioned.

If you have a strong stomach, you can read the full diversity hero advertorial here.

But Is He Going Away?

Keeping in mind that, however well-resourced, the story of Haynes’s pending six-month leave of absence is intriguing.

Maybe Hochul’s RIOC handlers are making him quietly disappear while paying him a veiled severance, letting him use up his vacation and sick time,” one observer speculated.

In business as well as government, this is known as a soft landing with no suggestion of guilt or penalty. After six months, the employee has moved on and will not return.

Of greater concern expressed by residents is the question of who would replace Haynes. Would they fix the mess he created?

Both the wobbly management team and RIOC’s board are in desperate need of overhauls.

With RIOC a longtime patronage dump, the chances for someone worse are considerable. Certainly, no one currently working in the state agency qualifies, but that wouldn’t stop the politicians from dropping another bomb, would it?

Although former CEO Susan Rosenthal could step in in a minute, her lawsuit against RIOC may prohibit that. And former CFO John O’Reilly, who pretty much ran RIOC for his underpowered boss, could too, but he may be hampered by Team RIOC’s gross bad behavior in firing him.

But it’s all speculation for now, and time will tell.

Stay tuned.

The Roosevelt Island Daily is always free to read. But our expenses are not. Publishing has costs beyond the human ones of writing and reporting. We appreciate your generous contribution in support our work. Thank you.

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