It’s Time to Get Rid of Haynes and Rebuild RIOC in the Public Interest

It’s Time to Get Rid of Haynes and Rebuild RIOC in the Public Interest

The crying need to get rid of Haynes, RIOC’s inept CEO, went over the top with a report in the Roosevelt Islander yesterday. Although only one of a long series of blunders, this one – refusing public safety details – stresses how far RIOC separates from the community. Haynes has long showed his contempt for residents, but now, someone – anyone – with authority must act.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Why Get Rid of Haynes?

Desperate to “control the narrative,” as Haynes’s under-qualified and overpaid Communications AVP, Akeem Jamal, revealed last year, RIOC President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes not only misleads repeatedly in public statements, he has begun withholding critical information from public scrutiny.

According to the Roosevelt Islander report, following the PSD community engagement earlier this month…

“…a resident told the assembled group, including Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Shelton Haynes, PSD Chief Kevin Brown and NYPD 114 Precinct Commander Kenneth Gorman that he was the victim of a hate crime assault last April. According to the resident, he was targeted and kicked in the head while sitting on the waterfront promenade with his girlfriend by a group of teenagers.”

Haynes, who has repeatedly been accused of racism – including in sworn court testimony – refused to comment on, let alone condemn the black on white attack.

Clinging to the Slimmest Straw

A pair of things may be in play here.

First, although RIOC’s Public Safety Department is little more than a glorified Lost & Found and Meter Maid Service that can’t handle even e-bikes, they cling to the shaky claim about Roosevelt Island being the safest place on Earthin New York City.

But according to accusations in the Roosevelt Islander article, RIOC “is deliberately failing to publicly report crimes on Roosevelt Island in order to make Roosevelt Island appear safer than it is.” 

While this seems extreme, it holds up under scrutiny:

  • A female delivery truck driver was assaulted by three Public Safety Officers last year.
  • A major drug dealer was raided and arrested in Roosevelt Landings, also last year. Among seized items were a cache of drugs and firearms.
  • A car speeding so fast it crashed through the Seawall near Cornell Tech, landed 30 feet out into the East River.
  • Three people, including a child, were struck by cars while in crosswalks in 2021.
  • Two theft crimes occurred outside the Graduate Hotel.
  • A young man drowned in the Sportspark Pool, the result of multiple derelictions of duty by RIOC employees.

Besides happening on Haynes’s watch, these all share one thing in common. None resulted in any charges reported by PSD.

Inside the Court Records

A second clue comes from an affidavit by dismissed Public Relations Officer Amy Smith. Smith is party to one of several state and federal lawsuits targeting Haynes, RIOC and his executive team.

In her sworn statement, Smith says that one of her initial assignments was rebranding the Public Safety Department. While it’s anyone’s guess, while the lawsuit is pending, what that means, it’s clear that Haynes knew there was a problem.

PSD, with three managers commanding six-figure salaries, does little that justifies its $4 million yearly price tag. How do you rebrand extreme passivity and bloated staffing?

None-the-less, it was one of several incidents where marketing of RIOC far exceeded performance. While PSD, under Haynes’s pal Kevin Brown, fails consistently, a whitewash of negligence seems the only action available.

Time to Fish or Cut Bait

While RIOC’s Half-a-Million Dollar Communications team remained silent, NYPD told the Roosevelt Island, “A 14 –year-old male was arrested on May 16, 2023 and charged with Assault as a hate crime.”

A simple reason for getting rid of Haynes is the same bell ringing again and again. His apparent contempt for the community is matched only by incompetence throughout his administration.

And Roosevelt Islanders can’t keep turning to our elected officials for help.

Especially helpful have been Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright and Senator Liz Krueger. But they have other responsibilities in districts spanning far beyond Roosevelt Island. Recently, they fought hard over Motorgate price increases and ridiculous fees proposed for Sportspark.

Encouraged by Roosevelt Islanders, they won both, but it required time and energy.

Now, today, Governor Kathy Hochul must get rid of Haynes. Legally, that’s RIOC’s board’s task, but those guys are like mushrooms that light up when somebody tickles their switch. Hochul should toggle that that trigger and let them go back to sleep. It’s only fair.

Clearly, Haynes is protected by parties outside Roosevelt Island, but enough is enough with that already. The man needs to go. And Fast.

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