Archive for September 2009

The Kessel NYPA Watch, September 27, 2009 – By George J. Marlin

September 27, 2009

Kessel: Dangerous During the Paterson Interregnum

Oddly, the dangers that Richie Kessel poses to the state’s economy, especially upstate, and electric consumers, both wholesale and retail, are heightened by Governor Paterson’s new position looking up from under the Obama bus.  Paterson, our accidental Governor, is now a lame duck a full fifteen months before his successor takes office.  As a result, Paterson’s leverage has dissipated and as his lackluster, lackadaisical administration winds down, career pols like lame duck Kessel, suddenly faced with both a lack of adult supervision from the Governor’s office and wary of being back in the political wilderness in the new Administration, (whoever is the next governor of our troubled state, will find it hard to justify keeping a political operator like Kessel in a reform government) will reward favored friends and lobbyists and enhancing their “legacies.”  Someone like Kessel who is seemingly unconcerned with state finances or the long-term consequences of their actions and focused solely on what fills his narcisstic impulse will commit NYPA and state taxpayers and ratepayers in ways that cause long-term harm and cost.

Observers of Richie at LIPA will remember his fevered pitch of activity in the last two years of the Pataki Administration.  Kessel pushed on the tremendously expensive wind mill project off Jones Beach, fudged about its true cost and forced Newsday to do a FOIL request for the actual cost data.  It was only the commonsense of his LIPA successor that led to a serious analysis of the costs and a decision to abandon Kessel’s folly.

It was also during the Pataki lame duck period that Kessel skirted state law by serving as both Chairman and CEO of LIPA.  Cleared by the state IG who found that Kessel was properly paid—not the real issue—Kessel ran amok bestowing favors on the politically connected.  

NYPA now faces the same fate.  Just as in Tudor times, the period between kings (in this case, Governors) is a hazardous one for princes and common men alike.  Upstate electric users should fear the consequences of more Kessel giveaways made while Paterson and his weak staff polish their resumes.


ACORN’s Problems – and the Church – By George J. Marlin

September 23, 2009

This article I wrote appears on The Catholic Thing web site on September 23, 2009

The Con-Con con – Beware a NY Constitutional Convention – By George J. Marlin

September 21, 2009

This article I wrote appears in the New York Post on September 21, 2009.

The Kessel NYPA Watch, September 20, 2009 – By George J. Marlin

September 20, 2009

The following essay by George J. Marlin, Air Kessel: Flying Large on the Taxpayer, appeared in the September 18-24, 2009 edition of the Long Island Business News.

The CEO eased back into the aisle seat of the new, multimillion-dollar turbo jet, in which he had spent many hours flying high above the teeming masses trapped on public transport, as the twin Pratt & Whitney engines screamed into action, thinking to himself that he had survived many challenges and was now finally able to enjoy the fruits of his labors.

Another episode of a pampered president of a profligate commercial bank bailed out by the Feds taking a jet to meet with his modestly paid civil service overseers?

No, as reported by the New York Post, this is the lifestyle enjoyed by civil servant Richie Kessel, chief executive of the New York Power Authority, a state agency dedicated to providing low cost power to upstate manufacturers and small business owners.

In the first six months of his regime, NYPA records show that Kessel has taken 34 separate flights on NYPA’s Hawker Beechcraft B300 twin-engine turbo prop totaling only 23.8 hours of flight time and an average trip length of only 141 miles, slightly longer than Long Island to Albany.

Despite the fact that JetBlue and other carriers fly to Albany, Buffalo and Rochester, Kessel has dozens of times left his home on the south shore of Long Island, less than a mile from the Long Island Railroad station and traveled to White Plains airport to board the NYPA corporate jet and travel 101 miles to the state capital in a style unknown to not only the woman on the street but also Sen. Schumer and upstate legislators.  As a result, Sen. George Maziarz has called for a state investigation of these flights.

In those six months, Kessel has routinely boarded the NYPA jet flown by two pilots (part of a pilot crew of four professionals) and jetted around the state. The manufacturer of the Hawker Beechcraft B300 (now known as a King Air 350 model) estimates that an hour of flight time burns about 380 gallons at 35,000 feet and boasts a maximum takeoff weight of 14,000 pounds. Add to that the cost of pilot time, capital costs, hanger costs and fixed-base operator costs, and the per-hour costs exceed thousands of dollars.

Nor was Kessel moved by the mega-carbon footprint that he creates every time he boards the NYPA jet. Traveling to Albany, a city well served by Amtrak and connected to Penn Station, the hub of the LIRR, is now beneath him. Despite a career spent claiming to be a defender of the environment, Richie flies private on the state taxpayer and NYPA ratepayer whenever he can, the ozone layer be damned.

No doubt Kessel’s flacks will defend his promiscuous use of the NYPA jet by arguing that Kessel’s time is valuable, that his “productivity” is enhanced by this well-earned perk, that perhaps security issues require this style of travel or that many NYPA meetings are called at the last minute requiring the use of Air NYPA.

Well, NYPA ratepayers shouldn’t buy any of that. Gov. Paterson, who appointed Kessel to his NYPA sinecure, must put Kessel back in the car and on the rails and to use the NYPA plane only for emergencies or sell it. More than 30 separate trips by a state functionary in six months are indefensible when farms are being foreclosed and small businesses are disappearing. In these tough economic times, Kessel should be grounded. Now.

One other policy observation. Sen. Schumer and the upstate state legislative delegation have rightfully decried the elimination of scheduled service to upstate cities by air carriers. Obviously, ending scheduled air service is a significant blow to any upstate town seeking to survive. Kessel’s publicly subsidized travels have contributed to that situation. Just in the last six months, the flights taken by Kessel and his airborne colleagues alone, if taken on JetBlue and other carriers, would have accounted themselves for hundreds of additional flights which might have made the difference between continuing these flights for the common good upstate and termination of scheduled service.


The Kessel NYPA Watch, September 15, 2009 – By George J. Marlin

September 15, 2009

Here is the New York Power Authority Flight Ops—Passenger Usage Report for Richie Kessel (10-14-2008 to 3-31-2009).