This article I wrote appears on The Catholic Thing web site on November 25, 2009.
Archive for November 2009
As former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno’s sad corruption trial winds down revealing systemic corruption as a way of life in Albany, NYPA CEO Richie Kessel, who, befitting his reputation as a bipartisan operator and favor dispenser, was listed on both the FBI and Bruno defense witness lists, has not been called to testify. The Feds and Bruno’s defense lawyer passed for unknown reasons. It is important to note, however, that activities at LIPA, Kessel’s former sinecure, were raised in testimony by prosecution witnesses, including one testifying under a grant of immunity.
Street Corner Conservative calls on Kessel to release the transcripts of any pre-trial cross-examination by Federal prosecutors to the public immediately. Should Kessel fail to do so, Street Corner will seek public release of Richie’s testimony and will post it on this site when available.
Street Corner has learned of multiple reports that Rocco Iannarelli, the elected Receiver of Taxes for the Town of North Hempstead in Nassau County, will be leaving shortly that challenging position and decamping for White Plains where he will serve as, get this, Director of Human Relations for NYPA and its 1,000 or so employees. Rocco, according to his bio on the Town website “developed a reputation as a keen administrator with many governmental accomplishments to his credit.” The bio doesn’t speak to his HR experience although he did send some time in the food distribution business and stayed in a Holiday Inn Express the night before his interview with Kessel.
Careful observers of Richie will remember that, while at LIPA, he hired as Director of HR, the daughter of the then Nassau County DA, who herself had been an unsuccessful candidate for public office in Nassau County and, before that foray into electoral office, a barmaid.
THE KESSEL COUNTDOWN: 403 DAYS UNTIL RICHIE KESSEL IS FIRED BY THE NEW GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK.
The following appears in the November 20-26, 2009 issue of the Long Island Business News:
As Ed Mangano’s recount lead widens in the Nassau County executive race, incumbent Tom Suozzi has been busy spinning that his electoral demise is not his fault but rather that of angry, misinformed voters who punished him for taxes and policies that were not under his purview. “I’ve pretty much been a leader of the property tax revolt,” he told the Times, “and now I’m maybe a victim of it.”
To promote his “I am a victim” strategy, Suozzi in a post-election Newsday op-ed called for Nassau schools, which are currently run by 56 independent elected school district boards, to be controlled by the county executive. Suozzi’s rationale: Since he gets flack for onerous school taxes, he might as well have oversight responsibility just like New York City Mayor Bloomberg.
Suozzi’s “Hail Mary pass” proposal, tailored to address his electoral shortcomings, is deeply flawed and his comparison to Mayor Bloomberg and New York City is absurd.
When Michael Bloomberg took office in January 2002 he inherited a failing school system that was controlled by a seven-member Board of Education of which only two were his appointees. There was also a top-heavy educational bureaucracy that was not only riddled with corruption and cronyism but had failed to set or monitor performance standards.
And yet, the mayor had no choice but to fund this floundering system out of his operating budget. In other words, while the mayor had the responsibility to annually come up with billions of dollars to pay education bills, he did not have the corresponding oversight rights to determine if the money was being spent properly or wisely. Even Albany potentates, who are generally under the thumb of teachers’ unions, realized this was unjust and agreed to give Bloomberg mayoral control.
Nassau County’s executive, on the other hand, has never had any responsibilities over education. Unlike New York City, the county does not spend a dime on schools; hence it has no valid claim for control.
There are other flaws in Suozzi’s plan. Since each school district has its own budget, teachers’ contracts and bonded debt, in addition to receiving Albany’s blessings to get a final OK, district taxpayers would have to vote for unification; bondholders would have to approve debt consolidation covenants; and teachers would have to agree to replace individual contracts with a countywide one. The chances of all this happening: zero.
Citizens are very protective of their school districts. They are not going to give up their say on how their taxes will be spent on their neighborhood schools to some county bureaucrat. Bondholders, particularly those who hold highly rated school district debt, are not going to exchange their bonds for lower-rated county ones. As for teachers, they would rather negotiate with the devil they know.
Suozzi’s plan, like his political career, is about himself. His favorite word, the personal pronoun “I,” was used 18 times in his Nov. 8 Newsday op-ed. If he was so passionate about school consolidation plans, why didn’t he put out a thoughtful position paper during the campaign rather than days after his statewide ambitions evaporated as he sat on $2 million saved for his next statewide campaign? Suozzi must be mature enough to realize that Nassau voters punished him not because of school taxes, but because he was an absentee landlord who has conjured small-bore, short-term tricks to paper over the county’s fiscal and economic woes. The voters sent a message that they want a full-time county executive, not a part-timer in search of another office.
When all the votes are counted, if Suozzi goes down, he’ll be a victim all right – a victim of his narcissism.
Richie Kessel: NYPA’s Phantom CEO – Part III
In a recent Long Island Business News interview, Richie Kessel stated that on NYPA time “I spend a day every other week on Long Island.” Readers will recall that Street Corner Conservative reported that Kessel’s NYPA phone records—for the period October 20, 2008-April 28, 2009—(27 weeks) revealed that out of 132 workdays, Kessel spent 45 of these days wandering around Long Island and New York City.
In the same interview, Kessel, who lives on Long Island, described his commute to NYPA headquarters: “It’s a 45 minute trip over the Throgs Neck Bridge to my office in White Plains.” Most Long Islanders would consider 45 minutes a short commute particularly if driven, as Kessel is, in a chauffeured state car. Despite this short commute, Kessel, between October 20, 2008 and April 28, 2009, spent little time in his White Plains office. And when he did, he generally arrived late in the day after wandering around Long Island and New York City. Out of 132 work days, between October 20, 2008 and April 28, 2009, Kessel appeared at his office on only 53 days. On most of those days he arrived at the office after 10:30 a.m. Nice work if you can get it.
Days and approximate times Kessel appeared at his White Plains office:
Tuesday, October 28, 2008 – After 9:38 a.m.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008 – After 1:16 p.m.
Thursday, October 30, 2008 – After 9:06 a.m.
Monday, November 3, 2008 – After 12:41 p.m.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008 – After 12:54 p.m.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008 – After 9:24 a.m.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008 – After 10:29 a.m.
Friday, November 14, 2008 – After 11:18 a.m.
Thursday, November 20, 2008 – After 1:00 p.m.
Monday, November 24, 2008 – After 12:27 p.m.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008 – After 10:58 a.m.
Monday, December 8, 2008 – After 1:20 p.m.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008 – After 11:07 a.m.
Thursday, December 11, 2008 – After 11:13 a.m.
Monday, December 15, 2008 – After 11:30 a.m.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008 – After 4:45 p.m.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008 – After 11:52 a.m.
Thursday, December 18, 2008 – After 10:50 a.m.
Monday, December 22, 2008 – After 9:28 a.m.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008 – After 12:36 p.m.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008 – After 11:51 a.m.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009 – After 2:12 p.m.
Thursday, January 8, 2009 – After 2:56 p.m.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009 – After 1:48 p.m.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009 – After 10:42 a.m.
Thursday, January 15, 2009 – After 1:00 p.m.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009 – After 10:31 a.m.
Thursday, January 23, 2009 – After 2:48 p.m.
Thursday, February 5, 2009 – After 11:30 a.m.
Friday, February 6, 2009 – After 3:41 p.m.
Monday, February 9, 2009 – After 3:38 p.m.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009 – After 10:48 a.m.
Thursday, February 12, 2009 – After 2:02 p.m.
Monday, February 23, 2009 – After 12:34 p.m.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 – After 9:42 a.m.
Thursday, February 26, 2009 – After 12:12 p.m.
Thursday, March 5, 2009 – After 2:03 p.m.
Friday, March 6, 2009 – After 1:16 p.m.
Monday, March 9, 2009 – After 3:27 p.m.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009 – After 11:56 a.m.
Thursday, March 12, 2009 – After 3:03 p.m.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009 – After 12:35 p.m.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009 – After 2:35 p.m.
Thursday, March 26, 2009 – After 11:35 a.m.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009 – After 10:16 a.m.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009 – After 9:35 a.m.
Thursday, April 2, 2009 – After 10:31 a.m.
Monday, April 6, 2009 – After 2:44 p.m.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009 – After 12:38 p.m.
Thursday April 9, 2009 – After 10:21 a.m.
Friday, April 10, 2009 – After 3:09 p.m.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009 – After 11:34 a.m.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009 – After 3:00 p.m.
Richie Kessel is expected to be questioned under oath by the prosecution in the Joe Bruno corruption trial this week. Stay tuned for details on his testimony.
THE KESSEL COUNTDOWN: 412 DAYS UNTIL RICHIE KESSEL IS FIRED BY THE NEW GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK.
This article I wrote appears on The Catholic Thing web site on November 11, 2009.