Archive for November 1, 2009

The Kessel NYPA Watch, November 1, 2009 – By George J. Marlin

November 1, 2009


Last week, our hapless and (now that he has outsourced the State budget to Lt. Governor Ravitch) irrelevant Governor sent Richie Kessel to Long Island to campaign for one of two amendments to the State Constitution. Proposition 1 occasioned Kessel’s visit to one of his favorite haunts, the Mineola courthouse pressroom. In Prop 1, National Grid would exchange 43 acres of upstate land for six acres in the Adirondack Park to allow building a 23-mile, 46kv power line that it is believed will improve electric service upstate. Actually, the line had already been built but that’s an inconvenient detail.

Street Corner Conservative has not studied extensively the merits of Prop 1 and is not recommending that readers vote for or against Prop 1 although Street Corner, like we suspect, many New Yorkers this year will vote against any Constitutional amendment proposed by Paterson, Shelly Silver and whichever collection of NYC Democratic Senators is ruling that chamber at the moment. Voters are angry and the credibility account of the State’s political class is overdrawn. By absentee ballot, Street Corner has voted against Props 1 and 2 and makes the following observations.

First, the only person with less credibility on Long Island than Governor Paterson is Richie Kessel. Sending him down here to push for anything is a small political miscalculation by the Governor but this Administration ain’t very good at politics, or much else. Polling by both parties indicates that Richie isn’t popular and that the guy who raised rates and obfuscated over the years isn’t trusted. Paterson’s intrepid political team didn’t know that. Better they should have asked LIPA CEO Kevin Law to explain this one.

Second, Richie’s press magic has disappeared. The purpose of his visit was surely to end up in the pages of struggling Newsday. He failed in the hard copies of last week’s papers and a review of Newsday’s awful web site indicates a similar strikeout. Claude Solnik of Long Island Business News did a good piece on the Kessel visitation but no ink and no picture in Newsday is a defeat.

Third, the LIBN story indicates that the line was built and is already operating which raises the question of whether if angry voters reject Prop 1 the line will cease operating. Environmentalists were co-opted into supporting the line and may have created a dangerous precedent because next time the intrusion into the park may be more extensive and the argument to “let us build it and we’ll get approval later” will be trotted out. Street Corner Conservative doubts that UK-based National Grid is likely to abandon the line if the voters say no. A National Grid rep said that the company would go back to the Legislature if the public says no.

Finally, Richie has done lots of business with National Grid and its predecessors over the years, much of that very profitable for National Grid (formerly KeySpan) and painful for Long Island ratepayers. Richie’s NYPA does much business with Grid and what role that played and who absorbs Grid’s $30 million investment in this transmission line if the voters ignore Kessel’s entreaties is worth scrutiny. Street Corner fears there may be a $30 million trick in the baskets of unwary State taxpayers and NYPA ratepayers.