Roosevelt Island News

RIOC Messes Up, Now Nixes Island Kids on Learning Bridges

RIOC messes up Learning Bridges for Roosevelt Island, cynically pulling a fast one on Island Kids, just one week after voicing robust support.

By David Stone

Roosevelt Island News

Update, 11/24/20: Under pressure, Roosevelt Island Learning Bridges backs down and makes room for Kristin Bruan’s child, but according to CBS2’s report, many more special needs kids are still being snubbed.

Update, 11/23/20: This RIOC miscue gained visibility when CBS2 reported that the state’s favored vendor improperly rejects special needs kids.

“To have a Learning Bridges center that does not take children with an IEP, despite being exceptionally discriminatory, just doesn’t make sense,” Roosevelt Islander Kristin Bruan said.

See her story in the CBS2 report here.

End of update.


Maybe you imagined that RIOC achieved the apex of dishonest dealing already. There’s been so much, but if so, you’d be wrong.

When city council member Ben Kallos, the Prince of Pandering, set up a virtual rally on Zoom, it was November 1st. And with elections just two days away, Democratic politicians seized the first half-hour plus to make their pitches.

City Council Member Ben Kallos
Prince of Pandering, Ben Kallos

Before anyone exposed RIOC’s cheesy deception, the virtual rally was reported on Patch.

Maloney, Seawright and Kallos, the UES Cuomo Toolkit, hopped on board, but it’s RIOC acting president/CEO and Cuomo Tool Shelton Haynes who took the cake.

Starting just after the 41 minute mark… Yes, it was all politicians plus a brief segment for Island Kids’s Nikki Leopold, up to that point. …Shelton Haynes crowds onto the screen, oozing honey in support of Island Kids’s bid for Learning Bridges.

Learning Bridges is a New York City program developed for offering community-based remote learning opportunities.

Warning: If you have no stomach for cynical political manipulation, view this only if you’re steps from a bathroom.

But let’s see. That was two days before the election, and three days after, this happened.

RIOC boots Island kids, goes with outsiders for Learning Bridges…

Once the election was over, Maloney and Seawright reelected, Kallos continuing vigorous fundraising for Manhattan Borough President in 2021…

“Learning Bridges comes to Roosevelt Island!” RIOC announced, but it wasn’t Island Kids.

“HCK Recreation Inc., managing partner of the Roosevelt Island Racquet Club, recently received approval from the City of New York to provide a Learning Lab program on Roosevelt Island for up to 200 seats through the Learning Bridges Initiative. “

And in case the voice inside you that always looks for the bright side hopes the state didn’t really screw Island Kids, RIOC added this…

“The program will utilize space in the Sportspark facility, located at 250 Main Street, and its surrounding outdoor space, as well as the north bubble of the Roosevelt Island Racquet Club, and Firefighter’s Field.”

It’s inconceivable that, before the virtual rally, RIOC and the Cuomo Toolkit were not already aware of HCK’s bid because it depended crucially on using RIOC space.

Maybe they just forgot to mention it before the election.

Other things to know…

RIOC fucked up Learning Bridges, and honesty and integrity got tossed once the election was over. And there’s more to this questionable arrangement.

RIOC fucked up Learning Bridges and Shelton J. Haynes lead the way.
RIOC acting president/CEO Shelton Haynes led the way in screwing Island Kids.

While Island Kids is a legacy Roosevelt Island nonprofit, a pioneer in educating local children, HCK is neither educational nor local. But questions about RIOC’s cozy relationship have risen before.

HCK, according to its own website, doesn’t have a single manager or instructor based on Roosevelt Island. Their only instruction experience is in tennis.

And it should surprise no one who’s been here for over a week that RIOC offered no explanation for screwing Island kids.

Their Friday tweet and Monday press release are depersonalized. No names, no quotes, no nothing but the implied Jersey salute for Roosevelt Island.


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