The Kessel NYPA Watch, April 13, 2009 – By George J. Marlin
STREET CORNER CONSERVATIVE DEMANDS TO KNOW “WHERE’S KESSEL?” PART 2
At NYPA’s March 31, 2009 Board meeting, observers were treated to the unprecedented sight of a gubernatorial appointee, Richie Kessel, NYPA’s CEO, defending, like a wayward schoolchild, where he spends his time while running the nation’s largest public power utility. In response to Street Corner Conservative’s inquiries, Kessel said it was “nonsense” that he has been spending most of his time during working hours on Long Island. Kessel then listed his various ports of call in upstate New York over the last several weeks following his self-created disastrous proposed rate increases and politically tone-deaf call for bonuses for NYPA staff. After being called out publicly by Governor Paterson who has been extraordinarily tolerant of screw-ups by his second-rate appointees, Richie quickly reversed himself and abandoned what he had previously said were “legally required” rate increases and also threw over the side NYPA employees to whom bonuses had been promised.
Kessel, like a conductor on the Long island Rail Road, called out in rapid-fire fashion the upstate towns he has visited—Albany, nine times (State Capital, not exactly upstate); Buffalo, five times, including three meetings with the editorial board of The Buffalo News (Kessel patronized residents of Buffalo by noting that “I loved every minute of it,” making it sound like a visit to Mogadishu); Rochester, once; Montreal, twice (not exactly upstate, but close); Utica and Syracuse, once each; five trips to Watertown and Massena. Well, he said he has even met with several chiefs of the Mohawk Tribe.
Gilding the lily, Kessel added that he spends about “5 to 10%” of his time downstate in New York City and Long Island. We will see about that.
Kessel’s intimate familiarity with his schedule makes a mockery of the several months that NYPA is taking to respond to Street Corner Conservative’s FOIL request for Kessel’s schedule for the first few months of his reign filed on February 17, 2009. Please be assured that Street Corner Conservative will be tracking Richie’s travels as the year unfolds and reporting the NYPA FOIL response when it ultimately emerges.
In other news, at the March 31 Board meeting, NYPA’s Board rewarded Kessel’s stellar work over the last several months and, in response to direction from both Governor Paterson and former Majority Leader Skelos of Long Island, unanimously elected Kessel to a full year term as NYPA CEO. Unsurprisingly in light of his serial miscues over the last month, there were no effusive words of praise for Richie from the five NYPA Trustees (one of whom voted against his appointment in September; one other dissenter recently resigned with no comment from NYPA). Despite the quiet, pro forma approval of his election at the end of a 90-minute meeting, Kessel called the NYPA Board members “my good friends.” Street Corner Conservative is interested in hearing from its correspondents who work at NYPA as to what that “friendship” entails.