In March 2022, a confidential source handed The Daily an envelope containing an “Open Letter” composed by a group calling itself “We Deserve Better New York.” Frustration and anger spilled off its pages, but the open letter lacked substance or evidence for the corruption it claimed. By month’s end, it spread as far as the Inspector General’s office.
by David Stone
The open letter, out of the gate, was more an angry rant than a detailed summary of concerns with corruption. In fact, the biggest surprise was in how pissed off so many were and how eager to get revenge.
They demanded Haynes’s immediate dismissal along with others, but the world doesn’t work that way with adults, other than celebrities and Congress.
RIOC seemed torn between those who hated Haynes and those supporting him.
But when I opened the envelope that day, I winced at what I saw. Score-settling doesn’t make for good reading; a take-no-prisoners approach almost always fails. And this was bound to fail because, if you accuse someone of bank robbery, you better have a picture of him with a gun and a bag in his hand.
In this case, there was no gun or bag, just a target. The missive barely rose above malicious gossip.
The Open Letter Gets a Good Read
With the fifteen pages of accusations now in the Inspector General’s office, RIOC’s board of directors asked a top-of-the-line legal firm, Greenburg Traurig LLP, to investigate the contents for them.
This was low-hanging fruit for a professional firm. Pulling the overripe fruit off that tree was child’s play.
The resulting report was as predictable as it was thorough.
That’s where the We Deserve Better New York group failed the community and itself. The sloppy vindictiveness of their open letter opened the door for clearing everyone from Haynes on down. In painful detail.
Neither Haynes nor anyone else did anything that wasn’t by the books, Greenburg Traurig reported, although they spotted a few errors in RIOC’s employee handbook.
But there were other shortcomings. While investigators went on at length about New York State purchasing guidelines and how RIOC adhered to them, including COVID exemptions, they failed to notice that RIOC has their own local guidelines – which were not followed.
They also said they couldn’t talk with Swift Emergency Medical’s founder because his attorneys were developing defamation lawsuits. But the New York statute of limitations had long since passed on that.
While RIOC and its board may bask in this report for some time, in reality, it does little more than muddy the waters.
Even before the We Deserve Better New York open letter made its splash, the most serious allegations had reached the Inspector General’s desk. Those investigations remain open and pending.
In addition, lawsuits sparked by events noted in the open letter are now in process in state and federal courts.
Any thorough and complete exoneration will have to wait a very long time.