A faint pulse has been detected arising from Constituent Services, RIOC‘s new, badly named initiative. Most likely forced on the state agency by its Albany handlers, it arrived without a heartbeat or common sense. It was a pose, an appearance of positive action with nothing behind it. But now, a sign of life, faint though it is, has emerged.
Last month, we reported on Janet Falk‘s efforts at getting a response from RIOC’s newly formed Constituent Services. Falk is a communications and marketing professional who has served on the Residents Association Common Council and helped shepherd the community’s original library into the NYPL.
Her story started two years earlier when she reached out to RIOC President/CYA Shelton Haynes.
Before Constituent Services
“On a day like this afternoon, with temperatures in the 80s, tennis players at the Octagon courts, including the students of the New York Junior Tennis League, must hydrate to perform at their best,” she wrote on May 27th, 2021.
“Naturally, increased consumption of water leads inevitably to the need for a nearby toilet.”
Hearing nothing from Haynes, she emailed him again on July 11th.
“As you may recall, I asked about the installation of toilets near the Octagon tennis courts and athletic fields more than six weeks ago.”
Next day, she got a response, not from Haynes, of course, but from his executive assistant, Aida Morales.
“Thank you for following up. We are discussing your inquiry internally and will provide an update soon.”
“Soon” can be an elusive term, especially with RIOC. Sometimes, it means “never.”
On November 12th, Falk emailed again.
“Today marks FIVE MONTHS since your assistant notified me that the matter of toilet facilities is under discussion and I will be notified soon.
“I have yet to hear from you.”
That got no response from anyone, but it was typical of Haynes. By then, he was deep inside his Blackwell House bunker, communicating almost exclusively with his inner circle.
Enter Constituent Services
Constituent Services seemed dead on arrival, a pointless gesture founded on RIOC President Assistant Vice President Akeem Jamal’s experiences, he claimed, in Yonkers.
But Yonkers is markedly different than Roosevelt Island. First, because it has 30X more residents and, second, because the city actually has constituents, that is, voters. Roosevelt Islanders never vote on their direct community government. Decisions on who does what, when and where along Main Street are rendered in Albany.
And RIOC already had a functioning and effective ticketing system. Few people know about it though because the Haynes/Hochul team hides it. It doesn’t show up anywhere on their websites pulldown menus. Tellingly, neither does Constituent Services.
Are you getting the message?
From Fumble to a Faint Pulse
Two years after her initial efforts, Falk connected with Jamal at Roosevelt Island Day 2023 in June. On the 26th, she reached out to his Constituent Services operation.
“I spoke with Akeem Jamal on Roosevelt Island Day regarding the need for a Port-o-San at the Octagon Tennis Courts,” she emailed, renewing her concerns.
“The email bounced from email@example.com,” she said in a followup e-mail to RIOC’s Anita Fisher. Jamal was copied. “Please send this email to the Constituent Services Team,” Falk asked.
“Acknowledging receipt,” Fisher answered, also copying Jamal.
And so she did, but Falk’s e-mail swirled down RIOC’s communications toilet anyway.
Over a week later, she e-mailed again: “Akeem, As a follow-up to the advisory notice about scheduling an appointment with the Constituent Services team, This is a reminder that we spoke on Roosevelt Island Day about the need for a port-o-san at the Octagon Tennis Courts.
“I sent a note on the subject to Constituentservices@rioc.ny.gov, which bounced, and Anita helped me forward it to your attention and to the members of the team. There has not been a response from you or the team since June 26.”
The Faint Pulse…
That finally got a response. The logjam shifted a little.
Falk was invited to schedule a call, which she did. She plans on discussing the tennis court toilet situation, but she’s adding a new problem: “…the poor message system and delayed response.”
Many, many other issues trouble Roosevelt Islanders. Will this breakthrough lead to action on OMNY for the Tram, the threatened catastrophic collapse of the East Seawall, the ridiculous expense pledged for an unnecessary and hazardous bike lane, the traffic safety plan Haynes promised two years ago…?
The list goes on.
And if Haynes or his Albany handlers really care about any of it, why don’t they add a link on their website allowing residents to actually use the operation they’re paying for?