The Richie Kessel NYPA Watch, February 16, 2009 – By George J. Marlin

Richie Kessel permitted Governor Paterson and Albany legislative leaders to raid $476 million from NYPA to fund the state’s operating deficit.

The governor’s Department of Budget has not disclosed if NYPA will be repaid and the enabling legislation does not specify a loan interest rate or payback date.

In agreeing to hand over the money, Kessel has acted egregiously.  Instead of being the ratepayer’s champion and shouting it’s wrong to plunder their treasury, Kessel told The Buffalo News:  “It’s a voluntary contribution we’re making.  If NYPA didn’t do this, they’d have to get funding from someplace else.”

What a lame rationale.  Apparently, it never entered Kessel’s head that he has a moral obligation to protect the financial interests of NYPA ratepayers and bondholders.  If there’s surplus money he’s supposed to use it to bring down electric rates or pay down bonded debt – not hand it over to his political masters.

Richie Kessel has always been more concerned with preserving his job and issuing self-congratulatory press releases than standing up for ratepayers.  As Chairman and CEO of the Long Island Power Authority, he took his marching orders from political bosses and lobbyists.  As a result, Long Islanders pay the highest electrical rates in the nation.

NYPA employees and ratepayers should be aware that last week Kessel hired LIPA’s vice president of Government Affairs, Thomas DeJesu, to do the same post at NYPA.  DeJesu, a minor Long Island political hack, is reputed to be the cousin of New York’s unelected Comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli.

Using NYPA money as a “one shot” revenue to balance the state budget is an outrageous abuse of power.  NYPA ratepayers and bondholder trustees should voice their outrage over Kessel’s fiscally irresponsible act.  If they don’t rein him in, Kessel will run NYPA into the ground just as he did LIPA.

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