Is RIOC At It Again?

Is Appointment of Shelton Haynes as RIOC Acting President/CEO Valid?

Updated 2 weeks ago David Stone
Early this year, Shelton Haynes came to the Senior Center to discuss transportation issues.
Early this year, Shelton Haynes came to the Senior Center to discuss transportation issues.
© David Stone/Roosevelt Island Daily

"The Board of Directors of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) has named Shelton J. Haynes as Acting President and CEO of the corporation," an advisory announced yesterday. But is the move valid after taking place at a meeting that violated New York's Open Meetings Law

New York Open Meetings Law Declaration

"It is essential to the maintenance of a democratic society that the public business be performed in an open and public manner and that the citizens of this state be fully aware of and able to observe the performance of public officials and attend and listen to the deliberations and decisions that go into the making of public policy. The people must be able to remain informed if they are to retain control over those who are their public servants. It is the only climate under which the commonweal will prosper and enable the governmental process to operate for the benefit of those who created it." §100 Open Meetings Law

Instead of respecting the intent of the law, the state agency continued to shroud its actions in secrecy following the mysterious dismissal of President/CEO Susan Rosenthal, last week. RIOC frequently operates under the apparent belief that it represents, not the public, but its own insular, parochial interests.

Governor Cuomo, who heads RIOC and personally canned Rosenthal on vague grounds, is no fan of democracy. That's clear, but is this really the best way to launch the Shelton Haynes Era on Roosevelt Island?

"Every meeting of a public body shall be open to the general public, except that an executive session of such body may be called and business transacted thereat in accordance with section one hundred five of this article." §103 Open Meetings Law

Of necessity, RIOC's Board had to meet in order to conduct the business of appointing Shelton Haynes as Acting President/CEO, and a quorum was required.

But there was no public notice as required by law.

"Public notice of the time and place of a meeting scheduled at least one week prior thereto shall be given or electronically transmitted to the news media and shall be conspicuously posted in one or more designated public locations at least seventy-two hours before such meeting." §104 Public Meetings Law

While it's true that when considering personnel matters, the board can call an executive session and bar the public and media, but that requires a majority vote taken in a public session. No public session took place or was ever announced.

Is this fair to Shelton Haynes?

Shelton Haynes is one of the most personable and open executives ever hired by RIOC. From our first meeting, four years ago, when he appeared as the board approved his hiring, I recall most of all his warm, friendly demeanor. That has never changed.

But however long he serves in his new capacity and if he eventually gets the permanent position, Governor Cuomo, his invisible surrogates and the board itself could not have come up with a worse way to introduce him to this community.

Bad RIOC strikes again. 

Neither RIOC, Shelton Haynes nor corporation council Gretchen Reynolds responded to a request for comment made via email late yesterday.

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