RIOC’s chaotic communications operation may be outdoing itself with an unexplained overload of public safety meetings. Reschedules of never announced events dribble out in advisories, and PSD and NYPD may have gotten a divorce. Here’s what we know.
by David Stone
Let’s start with a reality check that RIOC would rather not hear. That is, if NYPD’s 114th Precinct does its job, Roosevelt Island does not need a public safety department, let alone its $4 million+ annual burden. The rest of the mess starts there.
Roosevelt Island is like any other community in New York City. We pay the same state and local taxes and should get the same services. Yet Roosevelt Islanders cough up, without consent, the expenses for a 40+ member staff, numerous vehicles and extravagant office space.
For what? Here’s what the state says about this huge, largely passive and inactive force:
“The department’s philosophy resembles that of the old-fashioned cop on a beat. While upholding the law, each officer is encouraged to understand and appreciate the Roosevelt Island community and its individual residents.”
It’s like, honestly, they’re talking about some idyllic place in a supermarket commercial. This is not what we have here, not by a long shot.
What We Have Is Competing, Confusing Public Safety Meetings
“Our Public Safety Department (PSD) Community Engagement Meeting scheduled for next Tuesday has been postponed and is now rescheduled for Tuesday, June 13th at 6 PM at the Chapel of the Good Shepherd (543 Main Street).” – RIOC Advisory, Friday, June 2nd.
“Did not know one was scheduled for June 6,” a Roosevelt Islander mused.
It was like an old Henny Youngman, king of the one-liners, gag.
‘I do know the 114th has rescheduled it’s appearance at Cornell Tech from tonight to next Thursday,” she added.
So, in the community they claim is the safest on Earth, PSD and NYPD now schedule conflicting public safety meetings? Why?
Have they gotten a divorce?
During Albany hearings earlier this year, State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright raked Housing and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas over the coals. HCR oversees RIOC, and in theory, Visnauskas is the board’s chair. But she rarely shows up, is a disgrace when she does and has zero community engagement.
Under pressure, Visnauskas promised that she’d get RIOC on the ball. But in the world where the rest of us live, she did nothing of the kind.
As best we can tell, the commissioner or someone from the executive chamber pushed President/CYA Shelton J. Haynes for some action. The result was a series of alleged community engagement meetings with PSD and NYPD.
Few community members attend the meetings, but RIOC employees bulk up the tiny crowds.
In other words, in spite of Visnauskas’s promise, RIOC still has little community engagement, but these meetings all she has to brag about. Recently, though, they’ve installed a goofy “constituent” response operation.
But a RIOC insider wonders why Haynes doesn’t “get off his ass” and walk around the community and get a feel for it. His predecessors all did. None of them, however, paid themselves more than the governor earns. So, maybe there’s an ivory tower syndrome going on, or maybe it’s just the standard bunker mode vastly expanded under Haynes.
So, What’s Going On Here?
Dueling public safety meetings puzzle, but adding to the confusion is the absence of any leadership from Haynes or his highly paid, alleged Communications Department. Roosevelt Islanders fork over a lot of money for close to nothing.
That includes city taxes that should cover all the basics before PSD snags them for more.
Because, under Kevin Brown, PSD has lost the ability to do even simple things like making crosswalks safe and controlling e-bike chaos, they need public relations to “control the narrative,” as President AVP Akeem Jamal says.
Don’t mistake that with telling the truth.
So, if the mantra, “Roosevelt Island is the safest community in New York’ is true, why do we have multiple, competing public safety events. Is it all just PR or is there any real concern?