Starting out normal, a new RIOC day tumbled through flubs into chaos

Starting out normal, a new RIOC day tumbled through flubs into chaos

There hadn’t been a RIOC day like this since August. That was the last day of work for President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes before going on sick leave. A board meeting was on tap for tomorrow, and presumably, he was in Blackwell House readying for it. But things soon went wrong, then out of control, followed by chaos.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

A RIOC Day to Remember – Or Forget, Depending on Your Point of View

With President Vice-President Akeem Jamal also out most of the time since summer, RIOC sort of meandered through things for a couple of months. While the difference wasn’t especially noticeable, fewer annoying things jumped out of the state agency’s efforts.

Fewer, but still some.

It seemed that Haynes, as his supporters promised, would ease back into his chair on the second floor of Blackwell House.

Then, reality jabbed the confident facade.

Council Member Julie Menin

Although all the officials in the Governor Kathy Hochul hierarchy zipped their lips over frightening incidents inside Roosevelt Island Tram cabins, Menin stepped up.

Her request was modest. Noting documented conditions of Tram cabins repeatedly rocking out of control while carrying passengers, she reminded Haynes of his responsibilities for public safety.

Until City Council Member Julie Menin ruffled their feathers, RIOC’s deep thinkers apparently hadn’t known about this… Now, they do.

This elicited a ridiculous lump of excuse-making, feathered with bromides about RIOC’s commitment to safety. Cages must’ve been rattled because, until then, the state agency dealt with the issue in their usual way – by ignoring it.

Things Went Downhill From There

It continued with another lame advisory about tree “remediation” work. Enhancing that poor choice of words, RIOC – although notified – repeated the goofy blunder of reporting on one tree scheduled for demolition as “near Cornell West,” sending fans on a fruitless search for the brilliant, performative presidential candidate.

With a pair of communications specialists sucking in 6-figure incomes at RIOC, you’d think somebody would occasionally proofread their public statements.

But you’d be wrong, of course.

And the head-scratching begins. What the hell are these clowns guys doing all day?

But Another Event Rattled the RIOC Day: Halloween

It was a little sad really because no partnerships with local groups appeared.

Now, less than three days before the event, the RIOC masters of communication repeated this, “More event details, including parade logistics, are to come, so make sure to keep a lookout for future RIOC advisories.”

When that came on Thursday, it was a doozy.

“DAWN !!!
DON !!!,” one local wag reacted, adding…

“Will they go past Cornell West?”

Yes, the opening line under “Details” was this, “Parade participants will dawn their scary best…”

If you’re not yet wondering what we’re buying with our $400,000+ investment in RIOC’s Alleged Communications Department, The Daily picked a special gem all our own:

“Traffic will be diverted from West roadway at Tram to East side Main Street F/O 405 Main Street to 480 Main Street,” the geniuses posted under Traffic Changes. There’s a bonus for anyone who can explain what that means.

And About the Location

Variously throughout the advisory, the composer indicate the “Extravaganza’s” location as:

  • Southpoint Park (Correct)
  • South Point Park
  • South point park
  • And just one sentence later – Southpoint park

It’s a remarkable achievement, and if anyone cares enough to do the research, probably some sort of record. I mean, come on, they squeezed these boners all within a 100-word block.

It’s uncanny.

Then followed the response to Council Member Menin… and the unprecedented crash.

Preparing for the Next Day’s Board Meeting, Not

Before the fumes settled from the gaseously ill-conceived response to Menin, this popped up in an advisory…

Please see the attached notices for the rescheduling of the Audit Committee and the Board of Directors meetings, previously scheduled for October 26, 2023. The new dates for both meetings are to be determined.

RIOC Advisory

On less than 24 hours’ notice with an announced agenda packed with important to critical matters needing board attention. That never happened before, but RIOC, in its wisdom, didn’t trouble itself with any kind of explanation.

What the hell happened? Or will happen? It’s open to guesses with accountability and transparency as sparse as snow in August.

The Essence of Chaos

Nobody outside the hallowed halls of RIOC’s political mastery under Haynes and Team Hochul knows what’s going on with Roosevelt Island management. And that’s been since Haynes went on extended sick leave caused by stress from being a victim of state and media racism, he claims.

Later, he filed a lawsuit, with Special Counsel Gretchen Robinson as sidekick, against his Albany overseers and Hochol’s local lackeys. These events throw RIOC into turmoil with angry Roosevelt Islanders and battling but ultimately insignificant board slugging things out with senior staff and each other.

And unless well-managed, turmoil rolls in one direction – deep into chaos. And RIOC under Hochul is anything but well-managed.

Spins on the RIOC Day

One well-connected observer shrugged off the board meeting cancelation as Haynes needing more preparation time on his first day back. But the absence of a rescheduled challenges that as does the urgency of much of what got dumped in the agenda.

Then, there’s this –

Next day, neither Haynes nor Jamal appeared to be present, let alone hard at work in Blackwell House. Only the car of Haynes’s chief of staff took space in the Official New York State Shelton J. Haynes Parking Area.

So, what’s going on? How is our money being used to better Roosevelt Island?

At the end of the RIOC day, is anyone at the wheel, asleep or slightly awake even?

One Last Word

Over the last couple of weeks, the AVAC’s been out most of the time, leading to stinky hallways in at least one expensive Southtown building. Would it break some precious RIOC rule if the Alleged Communications Team coughed up some soothing information?

If they have time for one more advisory over DOT bridge testing, couldn’t they have scratched out a few minutes for residents? We’re not asking that they skip lunch or anything, but still…

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