Archive for February 2010

The Kessel NYPA Watch, February 28, 2010 – By George J. Marlin

February 28, 2010

Richie dines on Long Island while NYPA customers shiver in the dark.

Street Corner Conservative doesn’t make a habit of attending any of the hundreds of “gala” breakfasts, lunches and dinners that have proliferated on Long Island.  Last Friday, however, Street Corner made an exception for the Long Island Association’s (LIA) Gala Annual Lunch at which President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush appeared at Matt Crosson’s last event as LIA President before his retirement.

Since there was a major snowstorm in the region Thursday and Friday, Street Corner was shocked to see Richie Kessel at the LIA Luncheon, hobnobbing with the political and business elite of Long Island as they were served by liveried wait staff, and standing and vigorously applauding Presidents 41 and 43.  Since the event started at 11:30 am or so, Richie apparently spent the whole day on Long Island despite record snowfall in the Hudson Valley and tens of thousands of outages.  Now, Street Corner anticipates the outraged defense of NYPA’s highly-paid army of flacks that NYPA is a generation company and doesn’t directly supply retail customers but on a day when tens of thousands of upstate New Yorkers sat in the dark, Richie should have been in the command post upstate.  Instead of dining in luxury with Long Island swells at an event honoring Republican former Presidents, he should have been on the job.

We await the inevitable investigations of Accidental Governor Paterson’s highest profile appointment by Senators Maziarz and Aubertine.  Long-time LIPA observers are reminded of LILCO Chairman Dr. William Catacosinos ill-fated trip from Hicksville to Italy during Hurricane Gloria.  Long Islanders who remember Kessel’s outrage at that PR blunder may wonder whether Richie’s journey from self-appointed consumer gadfly to cynical insider has now come full circle since Kessel now fiddles with his dessert on Long Island while Rome (NY) burns.

Street Corner notes with relief Governor Paterson’s unsurprising announcement on Friday that he is ending his “campaign” for Governor.  (Street Corner was the first to call for Paterson not to run for election many months ago.)

The clock is ticking on Richie Kessel.

Finally, Street Corner Conservative notes that Kessel’s latest cynical plan to have upstate small businesses sign up for NYPA’s Great Lakes Offshore Wind project is nothing more than a transparent attempt by Kessel to build a case to convince our next Governor to keep him on the job.  Since the Great Lakes project will never be built because it would drive already high electric rates into the stratosphere, this is Richie’s latest callous manipulation of upstate.


State constitutional convention is a bad idea – By George J. Marlin

February 26, 2010

The following appears in the February 24, 2010 issue of the Long Island Business News:

In recent months prominent members of New York’s political establishment have been clamoring for a state constitutional convention. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Rick Lazio (the presumptive Republican nominee for governor) and numerous others insist that only a major overhaul of our state charter will cure our fiscal ills and end Albany’s dysfunctional governing process.

Frankly, I believe holding a convention is a bad idea because it could easily become a field day for New York’s special interest groups who will dominate the machinery to elect delegates.

If history is a guide, it is fair to conjecture that a constitutional convention will not be dominated by elected delegates who are civic-minded citizens, frustrated tax payers or constitutional scholars. At the last gathering held in 1967, 91 percent of the delegates were local pols or union officials. All the officers of that convention were members of the state Legislature.

Some pundits argue that in these difficult financial times the dynamics of the convention could be different because municipal and health care unions, leftist groups like ACORN and their political arm, the Working Families Party, will be on the defensive, fearing the possible loss of constitutionally protected government-employee pension guarantees.

This uncertainty, in my judgment, will not cower but energize ACORN and its allies to run convention delegates in every senatorial district as well as a full slate of at-large candidates and to spend whatever it takes to elect a majority.

A convention controlled by these forces could draft a new constitution that would eliminate various safeguards that protect the rights of citizens and radically change the relationship between tax payers and their state government and local municipalities.

Unlike the U.S. Constitution, which is relatively brief, New York’s Constitution is filled with minutiae and runs 65,000 words. There are lengthy and ponderous sections on state finances, local finances, local governments, corporations, bank charters, education, social welfare, public employees, housing and taxation.

Here are a few constitutional changes that an out-of-control convention could prescribe:

  • Elimination of the Executive Budget Amendment, which gives the governor the responsibility for drafting the budget.
  • Elimination of the governor’s line item veto.
  • Elimination of voter approval of state general obligation debt.
  • Elimination of restrictions on indebtedness of local governments.
  • Elimination of restrictions on use of proceeds from state and local government bond issues.
  • Elimination of limitations on amounts to be raised by real estate taxes for local purposes.
  • Expanded power of the state government by restricting home rule powers and repealing the local government Bill of Rights.
  • Expanded pension rights and perks for public employees.

Such constitutional revisions would create a state leviathan whose arms would reach into every home to pick the last dollar out of every citizen’s pocket. Cowardly Albany legislators dancing to the tune of big-government leeches would strip county and local governments of their autonomy, turning them into nothing more than administrative pawns of the state. Albany would control every aspect of local government – schools, libraries, firehouses – and bureaucrats, not taxpayers, would dictate spending and policies.

New Yorkers have exercised their power “to revise the Constitution and amend the same” sparingly. In the past century they have approved only three conventions and overwhelmingly rejected the proposed revisions twice. They are smart enough to realize that Albany’s inability to govern is not the Constitution’s fault but that of an incompetent governor and corrupt legislators who have driven the state to the edge of the fiscal abyss. The current Constitution may not be perfect but New Yorkers know the alternatives could have devastating impacts on their fiscal, economic and social well-being.

Pluralism – or Relativism? – By George J. Marlin

February 24, 2010

This article I wrote appears on The Catholic Thing web site on February 24, 2010.

The Kessel NYPA Watch, February 21, 2010 – By George J. Marlin

February 21, 2010

The Kessel Barometer: Bad News for Governor Paterson
The Paterson Barometer: Bad News for Richie

Wildlife biologists know that before the tsunami strikes, birds and small mammals, like squirrels, jackals and weasels, head for high ground to avoid the wrath of the storm.

Yesterday, at Hofstra University in Nassau County, the Kessel Barometer, which tracks the behavior of a rare species—Kesselus hackus—declared David Paterson politically dead. You see, Paterson picked Kessel out of the dustbin of State political history after Kessel was summarily fired by then Governor Spitzer early in 2007 and our Accidental Governor installed him as CEO of the New York Power Authority. In ordinary times, Kessel is loyal—as long as it serves his interests and those of his political masters.

Well, Kessel’s loyalty has expired and yesterday, only a few miles from his South Shore home, Kessel didn’t show at the Governor’s election campaign announcement. Given Paterson’s weak poll numbers, desultory performance as Chief Executive and the devastating New York Times page 1 story on Friday, the flight of elected officials from the Paterson train wreck is unsurprising. But unlike these pols who have independent careers and who don’t owe their livelihoods to Paterson, Kessel’s revival is due solely to Paterson’s decision to accede to Al D’Amato’s intercessions. Hence, Richie’s failure to stand with Paterson is a shocking act of political cowardice.

Like the birds headed away from the shore as 80 foot waves approach, Kessel’s betrayal of his most recent patron is the surest sign of Paterson’s political demise.

Political watchdogs should expect to witness Kessel’s unseemly attempts to curry favor with the presumptive Governor. Long time observers of Kessel’s career will remember Governor Mario Cuomo’s statement in 1995;  “I lost contact with Richie Kessel, who somehow was able to swim the political rapids from the Democratic side to the Republican side.”

The clock is ticking on Richie Kessel.


The Truth about Life-or-Death Decisions – By George J. Marlin

February 12, 2010

This article I wrote appears on The Catholic Thing web site on February 11, 2010.