The Kessel NYPA Watch, May 6, 2011 – By George J. Marlin

AN OPEN LETTER TO NEW YORK POWER AUTHORITY TRUSTEES

Street Corner Conservative respectfully requests that the NYPA Board of Trustees review the following issues relating to what appears to be abuse of State FOIL law based on much delayed and recently released FOIL request information:

1)  Showing Love to Long Island entities. In January, 2011—five months after the request, the NYPA Corporate Secretary responded to a August 22, 2010 FOIL requesting among other items, “information and records as to contributions and payments to not-for-profit entities from NYPA or any subsidiary or affiliate including purchase of tickets or sponsorships to events conducted by any such not-for-profit for the period January 1, 2009 through and including July 31, 2010.”

The recipient list certified by the Corporate Secretary included approximately 187 not-for-profit entities with contributions totaling approximately $808,289.  A significant number of recipients were Long Island entities including Mr. Kessel’s hometown Merrick Chamber of Commerce and the neighboring Bellmore Chamber of Commerce.

On April 18, 2011, in response to FOIL requests dated February 20, 2011 and April 3, 2011, the NYPA Corporate Secretary, included a revised list of contributions for the period January 1, 2009-July 31, 2010.

The revised list contained the following contributions not listed on the original list released in January, 2011: 

Research Foundation of SUNY Stony Brook
$500,000
Stony Brook Foundation
50,000
N.Y.S. Energy Research & Development Authority
486,124
                                                             Total

$1,036,124

 The revised contributions for the period January 1, 2009-July 31, 2010 totaled $1,844,413.  Of the amounts omitted from the prior list, at least half and perhaps 100% went to Long Island recipients.  Why?

Why were 56% of the contributions for the period January 1, 2009-July 31, 2010 omitted from the originally released contribution list?
  • Who is responsible for the omissions?  Was that person ordered by the NYPA CEO or members of his cohort to violate the law and suppress information embarrassing to the NYPA CEO?
  • Was any staff memo ordered to omit the contributions?  If so, who gave the order?
  • Should the deliberate withholding of information from a FOIL request, a violation of State law, be ignored?
  • If there are violations, will proper authorities be notified?
  • Were the three omitted contributions totaling $1,036,124 approved by the board?  Were the hundreds of thousands of dollars of other donations approved by the board?
  • If not, should they have been approved by the board?
  • What was the purpose of the $486,124 contribution to the N.Y.S. Energy Research Development Authority?  Was it a vehicle to fund additional money to Long Island entities favored by the CEO?
  • The Long Island Pine Barrens, which honored Mr. Kessel and Governor Paterson at their 2010 gala dinner, received from NYPA $29,850 in contribution/grants.  Because Mr. Kessel was honored, was this an appropriate gift?  Did the board approve this gift?  Was it an appropriate use of public money for NYPA to pay the Pine Barrens entity tens of thousands of dollars for Kessel to appear on public access TV programs unwatched by millions of people and to appear in the Pine Barrens newsletter?  Is such an expenditure of money consistent with NYPA’s marketing plan?
  • According to NYPA FOIL released contribution lists covering the period January 1, 2009 to March 31, 2011, NYPA contributions/grants to not-for-profits totaled approximately $2,271,000.  Contributions to Nassau and Suffolk County not-for-profits totaled $663,931 or 29% of total gifts.  If the NYPA grant to NYS Energy Research and Dev. Authority of $486,124 is added to Long Island’s gift list, total contributions for the period would be $1,150,055 or 50.6% of total NYPA gifts.
  • Since NYPA’s total portion of electrical power generated on Long Island is less than 5%, what is the possible business justification for NYPA allocating anywhere from 29% to 50% of its not-for-profits contributions to Long Island?  Is it fair for upstate ratepayers to contribute to Long Island not-for-profits favored by the CEO?
  • Was the board aware of the amount of contributions to Long Island not-for-profits?  If so, did the board approve these contributions?
  • There are numerous dubious contributions that appear to be unrelated to NYPA’s mission (i.e., West Side Cultural Center – $10,000).  Why were these dubious contributions permitted?

2)  Health Insurance. Did Kessel violate State law as set forth in letters from at least two Attorneys General of the State?  The response to the FOIL request released on April 18, 2011 suggests that a former NYPA trustee did receive free health care benefits paid for by NYPA.  According to the Attorney General, it is illegal to give health care benefits to N.Y. Agency board members.  Who authorized the NYPA trustee to receive this illegal benefit?  Has the Inspector General’s office been notified of this violation?

I appreciate your consideration of these serious matters. I understand how unpleasant it must be to spend your time cleaning up the mess left by your soon to be former CEO.

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48 Comments on “The Kessel NYPA Watch, May 6, 2011 – By George J. Marlin”

  1. inthetrench Says:

    Sounds like Richie’s days are numbered. Yeah!! Don’t forget about Gil Q and his merry band of incompetent jokes. Dyson could begin the change to adult supevision by dumping them both pronto.

  2. Upstate Hydro Says:

    There are quite a few technical union jobs posted at the site. These are needed. We also need management technical jobs posted as well. Its hard to run a power plant with idiots like Fran Evans and Frank Ryan on the payroll.

    I am thoroughly convince that the “dirt and grime” with this entire administration starts with Kessel and his posse, and goes down through to the Regional Managers and certain Department Heads. Quite a few people were taken care of on the management side, while the rest of us were told to work or leave.

    The union FOILed the salaries and has the data. The data hasn’t made it to seethroughny.com yet, but it will eventually make it there. The data shows that some Regional Managers received $50-60$K increases, and some Department Heads received $20-$30K. Some of the discussion has been that “their job titles and responsibilities have changed” which is another way of saying “go with the flow”. It’s hush money and I must say it seems to be working.

    The May 24 meeting will be a nightmare. If it is via video conference, the trustees will be talking over each other and not hearing each other. Townsend looks like he could use a V8 before the meeting. He is death warmed over.

    However remember you have two choices:

    1. If you don’t like it leave
    2. Make your own sunshine.

    I am choosing number 2 and I will win in the end.

  3. AlbanyPowerGal Says:

    Assembly held hearing on HTP cable yesterday. Richie’s spies there had to report back that he wasnt mentioned. It is like he’s gone already. That must be killing him becasue for a guy like Kessel bad press is better than no press and to be irrelevant and forgotten is the worst fate of all.

  4. BGLifer Says:

    I hear Dyson has brought back the summer interns. Yeah. This program has a long history and interests kids in becoming engineers or techs. Good for Dyson

    • ResistanceisFutile Says:

      Yes, NYPA gets great PR with its mentoring program and provides great benefits… for the rest of the industry. I’ve mentored two interns and both told me the same thing – Why stay at NYPA when I could get paid more elsewhere doing the same thing? Take a look at how many of them 1) return to NYPA for permanent jobs, 2) aren’t related to existing employees. Hmm I’m wondering who was mentoring who.

  5. desperatelyseekingrichie Says:

    Hey, put his picture on a milk carton. He has disappeared. Hasn’t been seen in WPO in a long time.

    • used and abused Says:

      I’ve been wondering who’s running the place. Workers retiring or resigning, no one to “sign off” on replacements. Infrastructure deteriorating, no one in senior management addressing it. Employee’s morale, we all know Ed & the king maker Agnes could care less, if we don’t like it take your 30 years of experience and hit the road. We all know that they will use this absence of leadership to pad their pockets(just like last time) and bestow more benefits on their precious Focus brethren (just so you know we don’t forget and truly despise you people). Raise? Any one from management even tell you that if we getting one or not ? We all know the answer but it would just be nice to hear it from a boss. I know it’s real hard to face us but grow some will ya. Mr. Dyson, will you please bring some adult leadership to this farce that used to be a proud organization. We are behind you 100%. Start with a real hard look and Power Generation senior management compensation history. Wouldn’t hurt to take a look at the “ethics” guy either. Remember they think you are a just a political appointee and can distract you from the task at hand just like they did Richie.

      • Les Miserables Says:

        Answer to your question: As usual, it is the loyal, smart, unsung workers who know what they are doing, that keep things running, IN SPITE OF clueless management. Senior management couldn’t operate the plants for 5 minutes to save their hides. Ed, king-maker Agnes and their “yes men” would have you believe that their Sucksession Planning Program is working like a charm and is keeping the place going. You hit nail on head by revealing that they pad their salaries for a job well done at the expense of the workers. The rationale is the age old formula: “Since I (senior management) saved the company so much money by not giving out raises, I think we deserve some of those savings for coming up with such great cost savings ideas – by giving ourselves raises.” Sickening. It’s a shame that Power Generation senior management and the ethics guy will be “punished” by getting golden parachutes to pay for their abuse of the compensation policy. Even if Richie is in remission, the growths remain, and the nerves have been traumatized.

    • Bat Masterson Says:

      Why ruin a good carton of milk…

  6. just saying Says:

    When was last time Richie came to the office. Guy seems to have forgotten he has to show up to get paid

  7. saygoodnightgracie Says:

    Hey fellow NYPA folks here’s last chance to hear richie speak. Only $40 on May 26 with catell, guys from NYSERDA and LIPA. Where? Long Island of course.

  8. KesselSighting Says:

    Kessel seen on Friday (a work day) having lunch at Blackstone steakhouse in Melville (Long Island) wearing dirty, ripped khakis and looking stressed and bloated

    • Bat Masterson Says:

      So what is new? Even when he wears a suit, he still looks the same – dirty, stressed and really bloated (Hot Air???)

  9. Zito Says:

    Ithink Richie should be the greeter at Mangano’s Shinnecock casino in Nassau. Richie is uniquely qualified for that

  10. curiouscat Says:

    Will kessel speak at the May 24 board meeting or will he continue his silence? Judging from the board meetings Dyson is in charge, Townsend is on way out and Kessel is in hiding. He doesn’t even come to office anymore. Not that we’re complaining

  11. WNYlifer Says:

    kessel has made commitments to people all over WNY of millions and millions.

  12. ProcurementVet Says:

    state law restricts what senior manager of public authority can do and say during pendency of RFP. Worth taking a look at this during recent years at NYPA

  13. Sinny504 Says:

    word from friend at Port is that Gil and Dyson are having a hard time trying to fix mess Richie left behind on HTP project. Big big money loser for power authority. Richie will bankrupt the place if he isnt stopped

  14. fluffernutter Says:

    whats latest on the health insurance gift to a former trustee?

  15. southshore Says:

    word on the island is that he will work for mangano as asst deputy county exec or at energy research cneter at stony brook which got $1 million of nypa money. wonder why

    • midislandguy Says:

      mangano aint going to hire kessel. he’s laying csea workers off, county has hiring freeze and cant hire a dem like kessel

      • 516forever Says:

        I think he’ll become head of merrick chamber of commerce. they owe him one

  16. fluffgov Says:

    The FOK’ers still think they are in charge. Although Fran Evans has been very quiet recently – maybe she’s used up all her vitriol on Richie….

    I agree with the VP comment – too many of them. Not enough people to actually do the work. Many of us are working long hours without extra pay, because we are professional (and not in the Union 😉 Not sure how long the goodwill will last. I know mine is running out quickly.

    I doubt that the Great Whale will see the inside of a prison cell but he should definitely do the decent thing and stand down. If not for the good of NYPA, then for his own morals. If he has any.

    Thanks Mr Marlin. Keep the requests coming.

    • LittlefishBigPond Says:

      Since his team has done such a great job on GLOW, he should take them all to Belgium and do the same for their lakes, by starting the BLOW project. He could then avoid prison, leave NYPA in better hands, lower the NYS payroll and help Belgium all at the same time. It’s win-win all around … except for Belgium.

  17. UpstateGal Says:

    Upstate Hydro is on to something. kessel balanced the budget by not filling jobs that run and maintain the system in order to hire political hacks he put on job lines at the facilities. He even cut the summer intern program. Unbelievable

  18. Upstate Hydro Says:

    There are well over 100 vacant technical positions at the sites and the White Plains Office that need to be filled. Remember generating electricity is a technical task. However the Vice President Positions are bloated by about 160%. Anyone see anything wrong with that?

    The trustees need to either wake up or move on. You are embarrassing yourselves. You have been outsmarted by the fast lazy kid at the lunch table.

    Thank you Mr. Marlin for everything you have done.

    • LittlefishBigPond Says:

      Word has it that Richie has also been selling snow to the Eskimos, and bottling NY tap water with Lunesta and giving it out to the Trustees before the meetings. How else can it be explained?

  19. longislander516 Says:

    Leave Kessel alone. He’s harmless. He’s not an energy expert but he’s been fair to the working man and has given raised even though Cuomo wants to give state workers zeroes

    • Dyson - Send Them Packing! Says:

      Kessel is a cancer to NYPA and is only good to his inner circle. The sooner he’s gone, the better.

  20. PowerBabette Says:

    at last two NYPA board meetings Kessel said nothing. Nothing. Next board meet is May 24. Let’s see if he speks

  21. NYPAbeancounter Says:

    who pays for the Super Bowl tickets? watch the Super Bowl tickets

  22. nypamaven Says:

    Someone should look at the way Kessel ignored procurement law and NYPA policy. What happened here is disgusting.

  23. powerpete Says:

    Why doesn’t board tell kessel to stop messing with foil requests. This blog has brought this guy down and should be allowed to finish the job

  24. Faithfulreader Says:

    thanks for the new material. Please keep it coming.

  25. Bobbie*** Says:

    kessel lives to issue press releases–fewer of them these days and notice that governor and kessel have never been in the same release together Whats up with that?

  26. PASNYlifer Says:

    unlike some on thisblog I dont hate kessel and dont want him to be put in jail. I just want him to go so PASNY can move on. He is in way over his head and never should have been put in this job. We all know that. It’s time for him to read handwriting on the wall and do the honorable thing and resign. If he doesnt board should man up and fire him. he needs to go. Now

  27. NYPAstaffer646 Says:

    how long can this guy hang on? place is a mess and everything is at a standstill–anybody out there care?

  28. Andy343 Says:

    inquiring minds wonder whether anyone on senior staff is thinking about taking the fifth

  29. Won'tbeLongnow Says:

    From Newsday April 27. Note the “Mr. Kessel”

    Cuomo acknowledged that Biben has an ongoing probe regarding Richard Kessel, the current head of the New York Power Authority and former LIPA chief. That investigation focuses on grants and charitable contributions directed by Kessel and isn’t linked to the new LIPA probe.

    However, Cuomo said, “Some of these actions at LIPA that the inspector general will be looking at occurred as far back as Mr. Kessel’s tenure at LIPA.”

  30. FollowtheMoney Says:

    look at all the SOLE SOURCE CONTRACTS Kessel gave away. Hundreds of them. Why?

    • LittlefishBigPond Says:

      Hey Follow,

      Maybe Richie misheard and thought someone wanted SOUL source contracts from him, which would explain a lot….. Do you really believe Richie and the Fokkers adhere to any rules at all? I hate to break it to you but there is no Santa Claus and Easter Bunny either. (Tissues available at my desk)

      NYPA’s web has the following clap-trap “The Authority’s goal is to optimally procure goods, services and property at advantageous terms that meet our schedules and applicable procurement guidelines in order to provide affordable and reliable energy to our customers in New York State.

      Our mission complies with the applicable provisions of Article 4-C of the Economic Development Law and §2879 of the Public Authorities Law.

      Evaluation of proposals is made through a fair and equitable comparison of all aspects of the proposals against the specifics of the Requests for Quotation (RFQ) and against each other, in accordance with the Authority’s procurement guidelines.”

      Start digging into any NYPA Project Manager’s files and your eyes will pop. And they get big $$ for doing this too. But it’s definitely more fun to try to get the “big one that got away”

  31. SayGoodbyeRichie Says:

    Take a look at Kessel’s Road Notes on our website. He last posted from White Plains (a place he rarely goes to) on May 2 and before that from Long Island (a place he always is) on March 14. Bottom line is that he isnt going anywhere anymore. Wonder whether board took his travel budget and access to our plane away.

  32. SadinWhitePlains Says:

    There have been raging battles here in WPO including screaming and shouting over your FOIL requests. Little Richie and his team realize they have a lot of ‘splaining to do on how they handled your requests. Word is a couple of the Long Island crew have lawyered up. Oh boy

  33. NYPAlongtimer Says:

    Well Richie is keeping the love at home. He lectured at a long island college this week, is being honored by the long island green council next week and is speaking at some long island energy summit in a few weeks. no word on whether he donated nypa money for these honors

  34. NYPA PoetLaureate Says:

    An haiku on the occasion of Governor’s first cabinet meetings at which Times Onion reported NYPA CEO was not present:

    No Richie.
    No NYPA rep.
    No surprise.


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