Egos Rise To The Top As Human Concerns Are Shoved Aside

In Today's High Heat & Humidity, Will RIOC Continue Policy of Animal Cruelty?

Updated 14 weeks ago David Stone
Feeding station, Southpoint cat sanctuary, denied tap water by RIOC.
Feeding station, Southpoint cat sanctuary, denied tap water by RIOC.

Forecasters say today's high may hit 95 with intense humidity that will push the "feels like" closer to triple digits. But neither resident appeals nor humanitarian concerns have nudged Governor Cuomo's State agency to back down from a decision to shut off water to the Southpoint Cat Sanctuary. Misrepresentations, lies and invented issues embraced by RIOC in justifying its actions need to be reviewed.

  • In what, as time passes, looks like a first shot at forcing the cat sanctuary out of Southpoint, RIOC Parks & Recreation Director Mary Cuneen called WFF Executive Director Rossana Ceruzzi to a meeting where she argued that the group was wasting water. She threatened to begin charging them, which would require installing a meter. When asked if other groups that use a lot of water would also be charged, like the Garden Club, Cuneen said, "No, you'd be the first."
  • Later, RIOC claimed that WFF's water usage was having a negative impact on the Southpoint sprinkler system, without evidence, as if watering the grass - during a period when RIOC used heavy rainfall for delaying Tram platform repairs - trumped animal welfare. 
  • WFF rejected three unworkable solutions offered by Cuneen - including footing a $10,000 bill for running a pipe across the Island from the Southpoint comfort station - RIOC unilaterally shut off the water as summer temperatures began to rise.
  • As criticism and exposure forced RIOC to scramble for excuses, Public Relations Officer Alonza Robertson first said the water was not being shut off, although it already had been for three weeks.
  • Apparently being fed funky information internally, Robertson next wrote that WFF was causing "substantial plumbing issues." Asked to describe how a tap could cause "substantial plumbing issues" and to share the names of the "experts" he claimed as resources, Robertson shifted gears again. Now, RIOC said the problem was flooding.
  • Videos provided by The Daily and on the Roosevelt Islander blog showed RIOC sprinkler systems flooding places far from Southpoint on its own.
  • Ever stubborn, ego-driven and impervious to public concerns, RIOC then went extreme, expressing new found humane concerns. The State agency said it was contaminating the water with feces, pesticides and more, and the water was not safe for animals or people. They'd been supplying it to the sanctuary for years without notifying WFF or park users of the hazards. A month earlier, Parks & Recreation Director Mary Cuneen actually said she wanted to charge WFF for the same water, no warning included.

The question of the day is whether RIOC's extreme isolation from the reality of community life will continue, allowing them whistle along while hazards in the sanctuary escalate.

Actions by RIOC over the weekend look ominous. Instead of answering The Daily's questions about contamination, RIOC's Public Information Officer took to the Roosevelt Islander to try discrediting concerns by changing the subject. We are "bitter," he wrote on Saturday, changing the subject, as if characterizing a point of view somehow changed the facts.

If we're angry or bitter - we're not - that doesn't explain the cascade of lies and misrepresentations or RIOC's failure to come clean.

It doesn't change anything, which begs the question of why such a flaky gambit has even been tried.

Robertson further alleged that no cats have died, a disgusting scale for measuring RIOC's behavior and a claim he could not know is true since it was only a week ago that RIOC admitted poisoning the sanctuary's water supply. WFF and concerned agencies have not had time to make a review.

RIOC's admits befouling the Southpoint water supply and it's not just cats.
RIOC's admits befouling the Southpoint water supply and it's not just cats.
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