The Kessel NYPA Watch, May 24, 2010 – By George J. Marlin
Last month, NYPA CEO Richie Kessel downplayed the announcement that NYPA Trustee, Elise Cusak, a Pataki appointee and former Erie County legislator, had gone straight from the NYPA Board, where she served for seven years, to employment at NYPA as a community liaison for $77,500 per year.
Cusak had voted against Kessel’s appointment in 2008 but soon capitulated to Kessel’s charms and resumed her role as a docile and dormant NYPA trustee. She later voted to extend the Kessel regime at NYPA.
Cusak, who previously worked for a communications firm, may have decided with AG Cuomo likely to succeed Kessel’s patron, Governor David Paterson, and with the State Legislature likely to remain in Democratic hands for years that this was a good time to make peace with Kessel in return for an easy-lifting paid NYPA sinecure. So, in March Cusak “stepped down” in order to turn up moments later on the payroll.
Long-time observers of Kessel will remember that hiring sitting or former County legislators has been a Kessel tactic at LIPA and NYPA to reward a friend or silence a critic.
Finally, don’t underestimate Kessel’s kind treatment of Cusak in keeping on the reservation other NYPA trustees whose terms may not be extended by Governor Paterson or Cuomo. Getting the Cusak treatment once they depart the NYPA Board may look attractive in today’s harsh job climate for political hacks of the party out of power.