Filed last week, the new Shelton Haynes lawsuit required an article here, but that’s where it should have ended. But Crain’s New York got wind of it and couldn’t resist. Missing much of the substance and misconstruing more, their report embarrasses Roosevelt Island and repeats unsubstantiated claims by Haynes.
by David Stone
Let’s debunk first the foundation on which the Haynes lawsuit rests.
Many members of the Roosevelt Island Community were outraged by Rosenthal’s ouster and unfairly blamed Haynes for it. One of the loudest voices of outrage has been Stone.Haynes Lawsuit
Yes, a lot of Roosevelt Islanders were “outraged” over Susan Rosenthal’s ouster, but not one I know of – including me – blamed Haynes. That came much later when various lawsuits exposed Haynes’s role in her dismissal.
The Crain’s author knows this in detail but chooses to leave it out.
What angered people was how it was handled by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s henchman Richard Azzopardi. Late on a Friday afternoon, Azzopardi dropped a bombshell statement – exclusive to the New York Post – saying that Rosenthal had been dismissed immediately. That’s how, like James Comey, Rosenthal learned she’d been fired.
Further inspiring outrage, RIOC’s hopelessly acquiescent board stood by in quivering silence as their employee was mistreated from Albany, never given a single moment for defending herself. That may be the Albany way, but it’s not the American way.
Yes, we were pissed off but not because of some peculiar alliance with Rosenthal. While the Haynes lawsuit insists that no other administration got as much scrutiny, Rosenthal can easily prove that wrong.
The Roosevelt Island Daily headline after Rosenthal was appointed CEO: “Cuomo Snubs Roosevelt Islanders, Appoints Unqualified CEO.
Other Flaws in Crain’s Coverage of the Haynes Lawsuit
The Crain’s article, posted yesterday, gives credence to an internal investigation by Greenberg Traurig that supports Haynes. But the author seems unaware of the nature of internal reports.
As an expert well-versed and qualified in this arena wrote, “While they are a well-established law firm, don’t forget that they were hired by the state to conduct an “internal investigation.” In New York government parlance, that means “we are going to pay you a lot of money to clear somebody’s name.”
It was only one part of a long message criticizing The Daily’s report on it yesterday. While insiders would agree with our critic’s point, we don’t have enough evidence to confirm it in print.
It corresponds, however, with an earlier internal investigation by another expensive law firm that attempted to clear Haynes as well as General Counsel Gretchen Robinson over their handling of RIOC’s move to new headquarters last year.
At least, Greenberg Traurig’s report did not contain errors so extreme they were laughable, although it does work better than a sleeping pill for insomnia.
Since Haynes replaced Rosenthal, Stone has written several baseless articles about RIOC’s staff and executives, often using racially charged language.Haynes Lawsuit
Of course, no alleged “racially charged language” was provided. Neither was any other evidence of racism. Haynes’s case lies solely on the fact that any criticism of him or his staff must be racist. It ignores evidence of gross incompetence and alleged misconduct.
The Crazy Stuff
In the final and certainly less-read section of Crain’s coverage, the writer reports the crazy stuff but plays it down. He never notes how it destroys Haynes’s credibility.
Haynes and Robinson, in their lawsuit, go on to describe a supposed alliance between Stone, Assembly member Rebecca Seawright and state Sen. Liz Krueger, who represent the island. The suit says Seawright “endorsed Stone’s racist articles,” and that Krueger “has taken an interview with Stone.” The elected officials’ involvement, the suit claims, stems from Krueger and Seawright’s support for Susan Rosenthal, a former RIOC president who preceded Haynes and was herself fired by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2020.Crain’s
Apart from this being paranoid lunacy, can you imagine powerful elected officials setting up an alliance with me to promote racism? It’s daft, but Crain’s misses it.
Krueger, who I barely know, told Crain’s that she “never met or heard of” Rosenthal. Krueger’s senatorial district did not include Roosevelt Island until this year.
And Seawright is a lifelong pioneer in human rights. Only in a universe far, far away would anyone seriously accuse her of racism.
Finally: Crain’s and the Haynes Lawsuit
In a country where we honor free speech as encoded in the Constitution’s First Amendment, Haynes can say anything he wants. He can tuck his accusations inside the protection of a lawsuit.
But he has never made any such allegations to me nor has he objected to any article or demanded correction. He has never taken up my offer of opening the door to more favorable reporting by answering requests for his or RIOC’s side of any story.
Immediately after I took the above photo, Haynes walked over to me and offered his hand.
“Nice seeing you again, Mr. Stone,” the coward said in front of witnesses.
And I again reminded him that we could always reopen the dialogue. He forgot to mention that in his lawsuit.