Archive for January 15, 2011

The Kessel NYPA Watch, January 15, 2011 – By George J. Marlin

January 15, 2011

I, Kessel

Last year, Richie Kessel travelled on the NYPA jet to Watertown and appeared before the County Legislature to push his offshore wind project on the people of the North Country.  His performance, part of his desperate attempt to retain his NYPA patronage job was notable for two reasons.  First, during his presentation the good people of Watertown booed Kessel.  Kessel seemed genuinely surprised by the result (why, Street Corner is not sure) but readers can see and hear the booing at around the 9:00 minute mark.  (A link to the video of Kessel’s filibuster is below.)

Just as important, Street Corner Conservative has done its darned best to count the number of times Kessel used the words “I”, “me” and “my”. Our research indicates that Kessel used these terms a staggering 60 times or once every 9 seconds.

In a comical moment, Kessel asserted that the gigantic wind turbines would be a North Country tourist attraction.  That specious and laughable assertion was greeted with guffaws laughs and boos.

Finally, Kessel resorted to the last refuge of the bureaucratic scoundrel by invoking the reliable canard that the public and legislators didn’t know enough about the project because it was preliminary and, as a result, the public should wait till more was known.  The problem with this bogus assertion is that Kessel and NYPA know lots about the project that they are not disclosing and that waiting is what the crafty bureaucrat wants so that when the people awake to an abusive project, it is too late and the project is a fait accompli. Street Corner Conservative believes that Kessel has met his match in the North Country.

Here’s the link:


Street Corner Conservative thanks its correspondents for their comments and suggestions and leads.  Now, Street Corner requests that you send along questions for Kessel to be asked by NYPA Board members and Senate Energy Committee Chair Senator George Maziarz.  Street Corner intends to compile those and send them along.


NYPA has not had a major issuance of debt since October 2007 except for issuances of tax exempt commercial paper.  Street Corner has heard from its contacts in public finance expressing concern that NYPA’s AA rating may suffer stresses from the Great Lakes Offshore Wind project and the Hudson River transmission project, both of which involve huge capital expenditures. This is especially of concern for an authority run by someone as innumerate as Richie Kessel.


Long-time observers of Kessel and LIPA will remember that his white elephant Jones Beach off-shore wind project was terminated by Governor Spitzer, who fired Kessel,  and Kessel’s successor at LIPA, Kevin Law, when they realized the huge increases in LIPA’s already sky-high rates that would occur were Kessel’s folly built.


Word in the government marketplace downstate is that Kessel has guaranteed the City of New York and the MTA that NYPA will absorb any and all cost overruns from the Hudson River transmission project. Three things are certain.  First, there will be cost overruns.  Second, with NYPA’s balance sheet absorbing the full cost, the City and MTA will be indifferent to the costs of the project.  Finally, Kessel’s drive to cut ribbons and hold press conferences will override any fiscal discipline, tough negotiating lines and business judgment.  Having watched Kessel for a long time, he is now at his most dangerous as he throws prudence to the wind to keep his public sinecure.


Kessel’s save-his-job strategy seems to be to latch onto new Lieutnant Governor Duffy and to bring him to as many Kessel press conferences as possible.  Word is that this down-to-earth former police officer isn’t buying this bologna.


Street Corner notes that it has been 145 days since its reasonable and limited FOIL requests.  There is no earthly reasons why a responsible agency could not long ago have fully responded to Street Corner’s FOIL.  Except one, namely that Kessel and his army of Long Island hacks fear public disclosure of the matters raised in the FOIL.  We will soon know.


Lastly, where is the NYPA board as all this unfolds?  John Dyson cannot return to the NYPA board soon enough.