Saturday, April 8, 2023

Watch Video Of A Discussion About Passover, Ramadan & Easter On Morning Joe Program, Christians Jews & Muslims Celebrating Major Holidays - Best Wishes To Roosevelt Island Faith Communities

According to the MSNBC Morning Joe program:

This week marks major holidays for three different faiths: Passover, Easter and Ramadan, and joining Morning Joe to discuss the holidays are Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz, Imam Wahy-ud Deen Shareef and Bishop Robert Barron.


Best Wishes to the Roosevelt Island 



 and Muslim:


Friday, April 7, 2023

Pieternel Took A Tram To Roosevelt Island With A Broken Heart And Came Back With A Beautiful Song - Watch The Video And Let The River Decide

On a beautiful afternoon last week, I was taking the Ferry back to Roosevelt Island. As I was watching the water on the East River pass by, I thought of the song Roosevelt Island by Dutch artist Pieternel.. Although the song is about coming to Roosevelt Island on the Tram, the ferry was a fitting substitute for me.

According to Pieternel's lnstagram page

When I lived in NYC I was trying to let go of my broken heart. One day I visited Roosevelt Island, the aerial tram was such a nice ride: flying in the air, underneath me busy NYC traffic, the swirling East River and then this tiny island. That only would be a reason to go there! Something about water makes me relaxed and grounded. When I walked towards the end of the island I thought it would be really nice if you could just let go of your worries, send them left and right of you, like the river splits left and right when it meets an island. And then the island itself would be the carefree zone. All you have to do is just walk all the way to the end, take a seat and see how the river comes back together. 

Sometimes things don’t come back together. But I learned, letting go of the thought of it getting back together, is better. It opens up possibilities, gives you unexpected joy and the choice of change. “Let the river decide” This is an important lesson for me and therefore I named my album Roosevelt Island. Thank you for reading and your interest to know the story behind the song.

And here's a live version of Roosevelt Island by Pieternel. 


Thursday, April 6, 2023

No Separate Priority Line For Roosevelt Island Residents Using The Tram, It's Same As No Priority On The F Train Says RIOC President And PSD Chief - Peaks Island Maine Ferry Service Has Priority Boarding For Their Residents

For years, Roosevelt Island residents traveling back and forth to Manhattan have pleaded for a separate Roosevelt Island Tram line to avoid the long waits 

caused by those using the Tram as an amusement park ride or tourist joyride attraction. 

During the April 4 Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Safety Community Engagement meeting, Public Safety Department (PSD) Chief Kevin Brown addressed the issue of Tram overcrowding in his opening remarks. According to Chief Brown:

... Events are coming up. This is the springtime. Cherry blossom is here. Walk along the Promenade you see the cherry blossom trees. What does that do? That brings in more people to the island.

How are we addressing the issue of crowding on the Tram, on the weekend especially. 

We do have a plan....We have people lined up orderly waiting for the tram...

... Public Safety will be on the Tram plazas both on the Roosevelt Island side and the Manhattan side to ensure your safety but we're going to ask you to be patient. I know that's a hard thing to do but we have to be patient. There's only 125 people who can ride in the tram at the time... there are visitors also but our goal is to make sure you get on the Tram safely and have you lined up in an orderly fashion.


The first question during the meeting's Q & A session was from a woman using a walker. She asked for a Roosevelt Island Tram pass to be given to residents going to work or doing shopping. The pass would give residents priority boarding the Tram so as to to avoid the long delays, huge lines and safety hazards caused by overcrowding from tourists on the Roosevelt Island Tram.

Initially, RIOC Assistant Vice President of Communications Akeem Jamal appeared to not want to answer this question during the meeting because in his view it was not "on topic" for a Public Safety question. He suggested discussing the issue "off line".

Chief Brown and RIOC President Shelton Haynes knew better than Mr Jamal, who has been in charge of RIOC communications for less than a year. They both understood the huge lines at the Roosevelt Island Tram is a Public Safety issue and provided an answer to the question, though it was not an answer most residents would like. 

Priority Tram boarding for Roosevelt Island residents will not be done.

According to Chief Brown:

The Tram is just like the F Train. We can't say that all the residents can ride the F Train first.


RIOC President Shelton Haynes added:

... This has been a topic of discussion for a very long time. We're very empathetic and this is something we've contemplated for quite some time. The Tram is a public transportation hub and as much as we would like to ... it's not something we can do as much as it would make things easier for residents....
Here's the type of long lines at the Tram that Roosevelt Island residents can look forward to in the coming months

Unlike the staff in charge of Roosevelt Island, the town of Peaks Island Maine initiated a pilot project in 2021 to give their residents Ferry service boarding priority and continued the priority boarding for 2022.

 Here's how the Peaks Island Ferry Priority Boarding pass works.

UPDATE 4/7 - Roosevelt Island residents respond:

There are times in the middle of the day after I do some shopping or go to a doctor’s appointment when I come back on that tram. I am fairly certain that I am one of the only residents on the tram. (I am not taking pictures. I am not in a huge group. I am not talking about the Statue of Liberty, etc.)

It is very crowded and often, I have food that needs to be refrigerated. I am not alone.

It would be wonderful if those of us who live on the island could get our shopping into our refrigerators.

Also, when we go into Manhattan (or Queens) and do our shopping ourselves instead of having a delivery van come, that is one fewer truck or car that has to come to our island. So, it is good for all of us.

I would love to try a pilot program that gives residents priority.

I didn’t even mention people with disabilities. Some folks who live on our island physically can’t wait in lines and can’t physically make it to the F stop if they notice a line.


Did they compare the F train to the tram to justify declining the request? 

The F train holds 4,000 passengers, and lines are never wrapped around the block to get on the train. 

The tram holds up to 125 passengers, and the MTA closure on the island and summer tourism will cause long lines and inconvenience for island residents. 

We need better leaders who will truly advocate for island residents' needs. The whole island needs a transportation study done.

 Comments on Roosevelt Islander Online Instagram page: 

  • The situation with the tourists is becoming ridiculous! I have been saying for a long time now that residents and those who work on the island should have boarding priority! The F train is not the tram. Comparing the capacity of one vs the other is preposterous.
  • I’m sorry but this is unacceptable. I’m not an island resident, but I feel for them as I see long lines of tourists riding the tram 🚠 just for fun.
  • Thanks for your solidarity and for showing empathy, which apparently Mr. Haynes does not have.
  • Can’t compare the F train with the tram! What a ridiculous comparison!!  
  • It’s true that the tram is a public transportation entity. Yet it’s also true that, unlike other public transportation entities, like the train or bus, tourists ride the tram for the sake of riding the tram (i.e the views, the experience, etc.). Though convenient, I’ve never met someone who wanted to ride the F train for fun. For that reason alone, I think it’s hard to accept all transportation as equal in use.
  • If the city won’t give us OMNY than we should declare ourselves a separate entity. Besides priority entrance we should charge a tourist fee. It’s done all over Europe especially in the summer. Residents of islands pay a reduced fare as compared to tourists. NYC tourists pay a fortune for Ellis Island, Empire State Etc. Charge them $20. Round trip for the tram and throw in a map!
  • This guy doesn’t want to do the work that’s just the bottom line. Or he has no power at all.
  • Yesterday I was coming back from work. Super tired at 6pm. The tramway was packed. I even though it was due to one tramway working. When the person in charge of moving the tramway told me both of them were working I couldn’t believe it. I almost couldn’t fit in. I was so tired.
  • The comparison with the F train is absurd. The F train is not advertised as a tourist attraction and the tram is, and is used as one, while Island residents need to use the tram to commute efficiently to and from their homes. This is a callous disregard for the needs of Island residents and the unwillingness to promote the public good.
  • So no priority line…as most likely they don’t want to operationalize such option nor manage it. So continue to invite and market RI, increase traffic, and create hardship for residents. Maybe we start with a simpler solution run 2 trams 8AM-8PM, if it’s slow run one until traffic picks up. At least take some responsibility and action in support the people who actually live on the island with limited commuting options.
  • Total bullshit. There should at least be priority boarding during rush hour times, PUBLIC ROADS HAVE PRIORITY LANES (HOV, BUS LANES)!! Stop using government funding as an excuse for doing nothing. If the issue is with the tram being a Govt owned system, maybe listen to your constituents and CHANGE THE LAWS. Isn't that your job?


Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Roosevelt Island Corruption Allegations Against RIOC President And Senior Staff By 3 Former Employees In Whistleblower Lawsuit Getting City Wide Attention In Crains NY Article - Assembly Member Seawright Says Reports Are "Alarming"And Demands "Transparency And Accountability From RIOC"

Crains NY Business reported yesterday:

Click here for the full article.

Yesterday, I asked NY State Governor Kathy Hochul and Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors Chairperson (also Commissioner of NY State Homes and Community Renewal) Ruthanne Visnauskas:

Roosevelt Islander Online has previously reported on corruption allegations made by former RIOC employees against senior Rioc management including current Rioc President Shelton Haynes as well as a whistleblower lawsuit filed by former Rioc employees who allege they were fired because they reported their concerns to the NY State Inspector General.

Here and here for example.

Today Crain’s New York reported much of this information too. According to Crain's (article behind a paywall):

Three ex-employees of the state body that controls Roosevelt Island say their bosses steered public money toward a personal friend, concealed details about a drowning death, then fired whistleblowers who raised objections:

Does Governor Hochul have any comment on this matter of great concern to the Roosevelt Island community? Does the Governor have confidence in Shelton Haynes remaining as Rioc President?

A spokesperson for Governor Hochul answered:

We’ll decline comment due to the pending litigation.

I followed up:

I understand limitations caused by the lawsuit. 

But can you comment as to whether there is any investigation by the State regarding these charges and if Shelton Haynes will remain Rioc President while the allegations are pending?

These are very serious allegations of great concern to the Roosevelt Island community.

 Will update if there is a reply.

According to Roosevelt Island NY State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright:

The reports made by whistleblowers, 3 former Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) employees are alarming. I along with my Roosevelt Island constituents continue to fight for transparency and accountability from RIOC, the governing agency.

Ms Seawright adds:

Roosevelt Islanders deserve quality representation that is responsive and transparent. When I and other elected officials received an anonymous report from RIOC employees on March 21, 2022, I immediately referred the complaint to the New York State Inspector General for appropriate follow-up and action. Constituents consistently report that the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) has been unresponsive in the day to day operations of the agency. The dysfunction and veil of secrecy cited throughout the pending lawsuit is distressing and unacceptable. I will continue fighting to ensure RIOC is held accountable and that the people of Roosevelt Island receive the services and attention they most assuredly deserve.

Here's the lawsuit filed by former RIOC employees.

RIOC President Shelton Haynes did not respond to my request for comment on the matter.   

The Crains article adds:

... Through an attorney, Haynes and RIOC declined to be interviewed. Their attorney, Howard Miller, said in a statement that the allegations made against the corporation are “completely false and fabricated.” “The lawsuit itself is a means of exacting a settlement over the severance pay that was offered to the plaintiffs,” Miller said in a statement....

... RIOC has filed a motion to dismiss the suit, which remains pending. Meanwhile, in mid-March, the corporation hit back with its own defamation lawsuit against the three fired employees—the latest chapter in years of controversy that have clouded the agency’s work....

During the April 3, 2023 RIOC Board of Directors meeting, there was no mention by Mr Haynes or the Board Directors of any chaos or corruption allegations but there was a last minute item placed on the meeting agenda for an Executive Session (meaning, in secret and closed to the public) concerning pending litigation.

Nor did Mr Haynes address any of the corruption and management chaos allegations in his President's Report to the community. Instead he praised his RIOC team and noted that in 2 weeks he will be celebrating his 7th anniversary working at RIOC.

Here's the RIOC President's Report from Mr Haynes.

Stay tune for more to come.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Watch Video Of This Evening's Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department Community Engagement Meeting With Chief Kevin Brown and NYPD 114 Precinct Commander Deputy Inspector Kenneth Gorman

Chabad Of Roosevelt Island Community Passover Seder April 5 & 6, Best Wishes For A Happy Roosevelt Island Passover - Why Is This Night Different From All Others, What To Do With Leftover Matzah And A Red Sea Shanty Too

An invitation from the Chabad Of Roosevelt Island to the Roosevelt Island Community Passover Seder

Roosevelt Island Community Passover Seder

Whether you are a Seder veteran with answers to all four questions or a curious explorer with 40 questions of your own, Chabad's Seder offers a stimulating & satisfying experience.

 If anyone needs Shmurah Matzah for the Seder or anything else Passover related, they can reach out to us - Thank you and happy Passover!

More information available on the Chabad of Roosevelt Island Passover Seder at their website or contact


Passover's Four Questions are presented by the Maccabeats

and here's 20 things you can enjoy doing with Matzah after Passover.

Best wishes for a Happy Roosevelt Island Passover.

Monday, April 3, 2023

Roosevelt Island Cherry Blossoms Starting To Bloom All Over - Let's Go For A Virtual Walk To See And Enjoy

The 2023 Cherry Blossoms have started to bloom at various spots on Roosevelt Island. Let's go for a virtual walk and enjoy the Roosevelt Island Cherry Blossoms seen today.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

First Meeting Of 2023 For The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Board Of Directors Monday April 3 - You're Invited To Attend And Sign Up To Ask Your Questions About Roosevelt Island Issues

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors has not held a meeting in 2023. Prior scheduled meeting in February and March 2023 were either canceled or rescheduled.

As of today, RIOC is scheduled to have a Board of Directors meeting tomorrow, April 3. 

You're invited to attend,  ask questions and share concerns about Roosevelt Island during the opening Public Session before the start of the meeting. Sign up to speak here. 

But be aware that RIOC Board Members and staff usually do not respond to questions during the Public Session though sometimes they may do so or address the subject later during the actual Board meeting.  

If you have a question or concern, give it a try, you may get a response.

According to RIOC, the April 3 meeting agenda is as follows:



  1. Call to Order

  2. Roll Call

  3. Approval of Minutes

5:30 P.M2

1. December 22, 2022 Board Meeting (Board Action Required)

  1. Old Business

  2. New Business

    1. Ratification of RIOC’s Gender-Based Violence and Workplace Policy (Board Action Required)

    2. Ratification of Insurance Binders for Fiscal Year 2023-24 (Board Action Required)

    3. Ratification of Contract with The Burke Group, LLC for Actuarial Services (Board

      Action Required)

    4. Authorization to Enter into a Contract with EFPR Group, CPAS, PLLC for Independent

      Auditing Services (Board Action Required)

    5. Authorization to Enter into Contract with New York State Industries for the Disabled,

      Inc. for Cleaning Services at RIOC’s Facilities (Board Action Required)

    6. Authorization to Enter into Contract with BrightView Landscapes, LLC for Landscaping

      Services (Board Action Required)

    7. Presentation by RIVAA and Liu Shiming Art Foundation

    8. President’s Report

    9. Committee Reports

      a. Audit Committee
      b. Governance Committee
      c. Operations Advisory Committee

    10. Public Safety Report

  3. Chair’s Motion for Executive Session

    1. Discussion of pending litigation.

  4. Adjournment

1 It is anticipated that certain Board members will attend the meeting via videoconference pursuant to Public Officers Law §103-a. The link to a webcast for public will be posted on RIOC’s website by 12:00 pm on Monday, April 3, 2023.

2 The RIOC Board Meeting will commence following a public comment period. The public comment period is not part of the meeting.