The Kessel NYPA Watch, March 22, 2010 – By George J. Marlin
Observers of Richie Kessel’s career know that he started as an inconsequential consumer gadfly and worked for the inconsequential Mark Green before leveraging himself into an inconsequential post for then Governor Mario Cuomo who Richie served as Chairman of the Consumer Protection Board. Senior advisors to the Governor have in the past remarked that Kessel was one of their worst appointments.
On Long Island, Richie positioned himself for political advancement by opposing the Shoreham nuclear power plant and attacking never popular rate increases—how brave!—and making silly press statements on Sunday when a news-hungry press would lap up all that Richie dished out.
Interestingly, Kessel’s career was picked out of the dustbin of history following Governor Cuomo’s loss to George Pataki in 1994. Richie enlisted his lobbyist friends and had Al D’Amato and political boss Joe Mondello carry his water. Given their Long Island provenance they had Kessel installed at LIPA where he did incalculable damage to Long Island to support his ego-driven need to have his picture in Newsday and on News12. When reform Governor Eliot Spitzer fired him early in 2007, Kessel once again went back to his base—Albany lobbyists and Republican political bosses—and had them pressure the unengaged and incompetent David Paterson to install him in an even bigger sinecure, as CEO of NYPA.
Richie now repays his political patrons by pushing the wind mill project in the Great Lakes which is unlikely to see the light of day, but will generate lots of work for politically connected lawyers like Pataki and lobbyists like D’Amato.
Kessel’s world has now come full circle. In order to repay his lobbyist base, Richie now proposes a massive industrialization of the Great Lakes that he surely would have opposed in his days as a young activist. And just as Richie’s line of demagoguery worked in advancing his career, tomorrow’s young activists and future candidates for office oppose his billion dollar boondoggles. As County after County and community after community comes out in opposition to the GLOW (Great Lakes Offshore Wind) project and fishermen and boaters and sailors oppose the project that will enrich lobbyists and other rent seekers all over the State, our Richie has morphed into the caricature he once opposed—a cynical insider dealing with the politically connected against the public interest. Just ask businesses and consumers on Long Island paying the sky-high bills he left behind.