Archive for January 2010

Paterson doctrine says ‘Judge what I say, not what I do’ – By George J. Marlin

January 27, 2010

The following appears in the January 29-February 4, 2010 issue of the Long Island Business News:

When Gov. David Paterson completed his Jan. 6 State of the State address, reporters proceeded to do what they always do, run around the Assembly chamber asking political heavies their reaction to the speech.

This year the most obvious person to ask was Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. The A.G. gave an even-handed response. He acknowledged that the governor articulated the state’s problems, and then said, “The key now, however, is to get it done. To solve these problems in these times will require sustained effort, seriousness of purpose and the ability to build a coalition for change.”

The next morning, on a talk radio show, the governor gave this reaction to Cuomo’s call for action: “One of the problems, I think in government and State of the State addresses is there’s a scorecard. We measure the person by how much they pass as opposed to how much is right.” In other words, the governor wants to be judged not by what he does but what he says.

What a bizarre comment. Apparently the governor has forgotten the maxim we were taught in grammar school, “Actions speak louder than words.”

Philosophers throughout history have called on people to act on their principles. Aristotle declared in “Politics,” “Felicity is a state of activity; and it is the actions of just and temperate men which are the fulfillment of a great part of goodness.”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, at the 1932 Democratic convention, not only described New Deal principles to tackle the Great Depression, in a booming voice told his listeners that the situation “calls for action and action now.” And F.D.R. acted.

Winston Churchill reminded the British people during the Blitz that “there is great hope provided action is taken worthy of the opportunity.”

These men knew that delivering speeches was not enough to meet the challenges of their day. Roosevelt and Churchill knew history would judge them by the consequences of their actions.

There may, however, be some method to the governor’s maddening doctrine. He may want to be judged merely by his rhetoric or intentions because his pubic achievements have been few in number.

Throughout his 20 years in the state Senate, Paterson spent most of his time talking in Albany bistros, saloons, discothèques and New Jersey steakhouses. In the Senate chamber, he was not a mover and shaker, and routinely voted for increased spending and taxes.

Since assuming the office of governor, Paterson has given plenty of speeches, told lots of jokes and issued countless press releases. However, following through on his public policy pronouncements has not been his strong suit. Here are a few examples:

• In January 2009, he pledged to cut state spending, downsize the bloated government labor force and not to increase taxes. Four months later he approved a budget that increased spending 10 percent (five times the inflation rate), raised the state income tax and included no layoffs.

• Every time he called the Legislature into special session to address the state’s growing budget deficit, he failed to enact his proposed cuts. Nothing happened. The bored legislators dismissed the governor’s threats and went home.

• For the 2010-2011 state budget year, Paterson has claimed he has courageously and prudently addressed the $7.3 billion revenue shortfall by slashing spending. In fact, the proposed budget increases spending by $2 billion and utilizes a score of imprudent fiscal gimmicks, including one-shot revenue, tax and fee increases.

David Paterson is no profile in courage. He does not possess the grit necessary to be a man of action like FDR or Churchill.

The only time I will celebrate the “judge what I say” Paterson doctrine is when he says these words: “I will not seek a full term as governor of New York.” For our beleaguered state that day can’t come soon enough.

The Big Lie Continues – By George J. Marlin

January 27, 2010

This article I wrote appears on The Catholic Thing web site on January 27, 2010.

The Kessel NYPA Watch, January 24, 2010 – By George J. Marlin

January 24, 2010

“Kessel declined to comment.”

Newsday, January 24, 2010

Newsday’s Mark Harrington did a large public service for Long Islanders and for NYPA Board members, upstate elected officials and beleaguered NYPA customers by reporting that LIPA ratepayers paid over $100 million (yes, $100 million) to delay the opening of a new power plant in Suffolk County hyped by then LIPA Chairman and CEO Richie Kessel.

First, as Long Islanders know and upstaters have come to know, Richie Kessel never misses an opportunity to bloviate in the newspapers, on TV or radio or at the nearest diner.  So, his remarkable “declined to comment” is noteworthy.  Note that Kessel wasn’t unavailable as he is always available to Newsday and every other Island media outlet. Further note that Kessel didn’t deny that his screw-up in this one case cost Long Islanders $100 million.  On this latest hundred million dollar snafu, he took a pass at the opportunity to be quoted.

Here are the facts as reported by Harrington:  Kessel often fear mongered as LIPA head in order to support new projects and breathlessly orated in ominous tones that “the lights would go out unless this cable were built or this plant were not on line.”  It turns out those claims were spurious.

In this latest case exposed to public scrutiny, Kessel shilled for a new efficient plant in Yaphank which ultimately opened in August 2009 but LIPA had by then accumulated so much excess available power under Kessel that the plant owners were paid $100 million by ratepayers to delay the opening of the new plant for a year.  Obviously, Kessel’s fear mongering was wrong and may have been deceitful.  Finally, Richie hid the $100 million obligation from ratepayers and it was turned up only by old-fashioned journalism by Newsday’s Harrington.

Viewed in its best light, Kessel’s LIPA had so screwed up the long-term planning for electric demand on Long Island that the ratepayers will be paying long into the future.  Newsday quoted one energy expert as saying that “We never got to the point of the lights going out.  And it resulted in poor financial decisions and expensive contracts.”  To his credit, current LIPA CEO Kevin Law has instituted reforms to prevent this type of utility malpractice from recurring.

Here’s why this should matter to NYPA constituents.  Combined with the Jones Beach wind power fiasco, LIPA procurement scandals, and now this $100 million debacle and the resulting sky exorbitant electric rates, Kessel has done great damage to the Long Island economy.  Upstate businesses and elected officials should ask why upstate will fare any better with Kessel at the helm.  Alarmingly, one common element of the Kessel approach to electric policy making and management is a fractious relationship with the truth.  Upstate electricity buyers be warned.


The Kessel NYPA Watch, January 18, 2010 – By George J. Marlin

January 18, 2010

Kessel Asides

Having satisfied upstate burghers and pols that he is focused on upstate, Richie Kessel has returned to bestowing love and money on his Long Island home.  A few examples:

NYPA held what may be its first ever board meeting in mid-December on Long Island which accounts for fully 2-3% of NYPA load.

NYPA hiring of Long Islanders continues apace.  Refugees from the late Suozzi Administration have washed ashore in White Plains.  More appear to seek the shelter Kessel’s NYPA can provide for at least the next several months.  It appears that Cablevision is not willing to carry the defeated county executive’s tired team in Suozzi’s new girls basketball high school sports gig at MSG Varsity.  So, Kessel to the rescue.

Kessel launched yet another press release of love towards Long Island, this latest one several days ago with $750,000 for planning and operations in Suffolk County.

On January 11, Kessel met at Concerned Citizens for the Environment’s office in Farmingdale to discuss “critical issues throughout New York” including according to the agenda, “Future of National Grid Power Plants on Long Island”, “New Timelines & Progress for LI Offshore Wind” and “Hydro-power LI? Hudson Cable”.  Senator George Maziarz, please ask Kessel what he’s up to here and what he is telling LI enviros and other activists about his plans for Long Island.

NYPA plans to sell NYC power plants and redeploy that capital into National Grid’s plants continues.  Either Upstate ratepayers will subsidize higher income Long Islanders (thanks for the gift, Buffalo!) or if the deal stands on its own and there is no upstate subsidy it is hard to see any advantage to Long Island given LIPA’s decision to pass on the opportunity after running the numbers.  Those who have followed Kessel’s career know that he doesn’t know financials or what they mean and doesn’t care about numbers.  More to come on this.

How will the on-going dispute play out between Kessel’s NYPA and the Pine Barrens Society for a $25,000 sponsorship promised by Kessel for the October 21 Pine Barrens event two months ago at Long Island’s Oheka Castle at which Kessel and David Paterson were honored?  According to sources, Paterson’s office properly vetoed this sponsorship since it’s illegal and will only attract the attention of the Attorney General.  The Pine Barrens wants the money it was promised.  More to come on this, too.

The calls, letters and emails we receive indicate that morale at NYPA continues to plunge.  Please keep your comments coming.


Mangano must remember those that put him in office – By George J. Marlin

January 18, 2010

This commentary I wrote, Marlin: Mangano must remember those that put him in office, appears on the Long Island Business News web site.