The Kessel NYPA Watch, May 25, 2009 – By George J. Marlin
Notes and Asides
It now is readily apparent that Richie Kessel directed FOIL staff at NYPA to violate the law and delay disclosure of legally required information to hide his whereabouts. Street Corner Conservative filed its initial FOIL request on February 17 of this year requesting Kessel’s phone logs, calendar and physical whereabouts. Kessel had FOIL staff reply on February 24 that they “will advise you whether your request will be granted or denied on or about March 10, 2009.” The next NYPA response (March 10, 2009) stated that Street Corner Conservative would be contacted on or about May 6, 2009 on the status of the request for Kessel phone logs, calendar and physical whereabouts. Then on May 6, 2009, Kessel’s phone records were transmitted and on May 18, 2009—three months after the original FOIL request was filed, the seven-page Kessel calendar was made available. As for the details on Kessel’s physical whereabouts, FOIL staff stated in the May 18, 2009 correspondence that “the record responsive to this portion of your request is being reviewed and we will contact you on June 1 to advise of the availability of such records.”
Now, Street Corner Conservative is not one to complain or whimper about minor miscues or immaterial issues. Here’s why this matters:
For a guy who casts himself as a roly-poly consumer advocate committed to protecting the little guy, Kessel in fact hides the ball from taxpayers, the media and our elected representatives when that serves his interests and those of his Long Island political patrons. Here’s one example that should trouble NYPA’s Board, upstate media and State electeds of both parties. When Kessel was advocating for windmills off Jones Beach on the south shore of Long Island, he pronounced that the project would cost about $300 million. After rumors surfaced that the cost estimates were ballooning Kessel repeatedly refused to provide cost information to Newsday. Newsday at first played nice, continued to be stonewalled and then resorted to FOIL. Faced with the legal requirement to now disclose the data, Kessel’s LIPA at last confessed that the project would in fact cost over $800 million and would raise LI electric rates even higher. After Kessel was sacked by Governor Spitzer and after the true costs were revealed, Kessel’s successor killed the project. And now at NYPA Kessel takes advantage of Earth Day to announce…windmills…in the Great Lakes.
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As NYPA dribbles out the information about Richie Kessel’s schedule, phone calls and whereabouts, Street Corner Conservative offers the following tidbits about Richie:
Consistent with what our correspondents tell us, when he does appear in White Plains or other NYPA facilities around the State, Richie arrives late, leaves early and is mostly concerned about promoting himself at press conferences. He spends an awful lot of time on Long Island for a fellow running a White Plains-based energy agency serving primarily upstate and WNY customers.
He has many conversations with registered lobbyists like Long Island warhorses, Al D’Amato and Jerry Kremer. A final tidbit, Richie has been intent on placing windmills upstate from the first days of his tenure.
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Our intrepid correspondents at NYPA tell us that Richie Kessel and his band of Long Island insiders are working full time on a scheme to buy the Long Island power plants owned by Keyspan in the event LIPA passes on such opportunity as our NYPA correspondents tell us is becoming more likely.
The following scenario derived from that inside information should scare NYPA customers, bondholders, rating agencies and those who care about upstate.
Here’s what Street Corner believes could happen: in the event LIPA determines not to buy the old, tired LILCO plants, Kessel will leverage the pristine NYPA balance sheet, borrow billions and buy at premium prices the old Keyspan plants. He’ll claim that rates will be cut by some unproven double digit percentage based on creative use of tax exempt financing and exemption from federal corporate income tax in NYPA’s hands. He’ll then run for County Executive based on this latest “success” once Tom Suozzi leaves for greener political pastures.