The Kessel NYPA Watch, May 22, 2011 – By George J. Marlin

RICHIE KESSEL:  POSTER BOY FOR ETHICS REFORM

One day when historians of New York State look back on the 20th century, they may debate who was the most and least effective Governors, most corrupt legislator and best Senate Majority Leader and shrewdest Assembly Speaker.  But it is likely there will be little debate as to the most investigated State official in the last 30 years:  Richie Kessel. To give Kessel’s legacy its due, let’s recognize that Kessel has been investigated during the Pataki, Spitzer, Paterson and Cuomo Administrations.

Whether at LIPA or NYPA, the one constant has been investigations of Kessel.  Even now as his inglorious career lurches to its long overdue denouement, Kessel is being investigated simultaneously for potentially unethical behavior at two separate State authorities.  Street Corner Conservative believes this achievement is unprecedented in the history of the Empire State.  Indeed, it is possible that when Kessel takes his leave of State service he will remain under investigation by the Cuomo Administration Inspector General for his actions at two separate authorities in two decades.

Lest future generations not recognize Kessel’s lifetime achievements in ethical investigations, Street Corner points out that Kessel was previously investigated by a Democratic Comptroller for his actions at LIPA and received well-deserved criticism for bypassing its own bidding requirements when it paid a Republican consulting firm $45 thousand to conduct “political polls.”  Later, he was investigated by the Inspector General in the Paterson Administration.

Since Kessel partisans may claim their benefactor was a victim of partisan politics, it is critical to note that each of the four investigations was undertaken by a Democratic official.

While the State Legislature considers the Governor’s much needed ethics reform bill in the closing days of this legislative session, I call upon the NYPA board to investigate promptly the following Kessel issues:

1)  whether at Kessel’s direction health insurance was improperly provided to a NYPA trustee;

2)  whether Kessel improperly sole sourced any of the scores of such contracts;

3)  whether donations to Long Island organizations of hundreds of thousands of dollars were improper because they were unrelated to NYPA’s mission; and

4)  whether Kessel violated any State laws, including the various public authority reform acts, regulations and NYPA policies.

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17 Comments on “The Kessel NYPA Watch, May 22, 2011 – By George J. Marlin”

  1. KesselVictoryTour Says:

    Kessel spoke at some economic development thing in Cooperstown late last month. One of his last speeches.

  2. NYPAJeopardy Says:

    He doesn’t come to the office. No one listens to him. Or takes him seriously. He’s being investigated multiple times. He’s an internal laughinstock and spends his time at NYPA paid dinners.

    A: Who is Richie Kessel?

  3. Where'sKessel Says:

    Kessel honored by LI Green Building group on May 24 on
    long island. He’s taking his victory lap.

  4. FluffGov Says:

    It’s a waiting game at WPO. With Bert Cunningham out, the next to go will be Fran Evans. So that’s the “big-mouth” and “pea-brain” of Kessel gone. That only leaves his gut – and although it is large, I don’t think it can run NYPA by itself….

    We should start a lottery on who is next.

    I’ll have $100 on Evans, and $20 on all the other FOK’kers, just sort them out alphabetically.

    At least the sun is out, and we’re in air conditioned offices. We’re not out looking for new jobs (yet), so be grateful for something.

  5. Where'sKessel Says:

    NY Times has article today about our HTP project, not the smartest thing NYPA has done, and guess who is not mentioned or quoted? Gil is liberally quoted but no Kessel. Sign of the times

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/30/nyregion/power-cable-under-hudson-has-critics-in-2-states.html

  6. WatchingWitchie Says:

    This is list of Kessel’s ridiculous Road
    Notes on our website. Kessel has a lot less to say. That’s a good sign.

    May 2 – White Plains

    March 14 – Stony Brook

    January 26 – City of Niagara Falls

    January 7 – Massena

    January 5 – Albany

    January 3 – White Plains

  7. MoreLongIslandLove Says:

    newsletter from some LI housing organization has picture of Kessel and Fran on their visit somewhere in Nassau County. Kessel quoted as saying that if the organization got money from NYPA that LIPA would have to reduce money LIPA is giving this charity but not to worry becasue NYPA could give technical assistance grant. So now NYPA is competing with LIPA to give money from Niagara County to LOng Island. Isnt that why LIPA exists.

  8. used and abused Says:

    I was optimistic for the first time in years when Dyson was appointed to the board. I watched the last two trustee meetings intently hoping for a sign things might change. It appears to be business as usual. Months have past and there has been no word of a charter change reducing Richie’s powers or his job status. Meanwhile the staff waits and wonders, senior management plots their next abuse, and veteran employees continue to retire early or resign with their replacements still based on political connections rather than merit. Maybe there is no hope.

  9. whiteplainswillie Says:

    COS looking for next gig sans Richie. Can’t blame her.

  10. kesselsighting Says:

    He was in Suffolk, Long Islan this week pontificating on a panel about what it’s hard to say. He was introed asa NYPA CEO so it must have been him

  11. WhereintheWorldisRichie Says:

    Our CEO doesnt come to the office. He is sighted in White Plains maybe a day a week. Not that there is anything wrong with that. But doesnt he have to show up to get paid? Does going to visit an organization on Long Island every week enough and getting an award too?

  12. wontbelongnow Says:

    Word is Bert Cunningham one of Kessel’s guys from LI resigned today effective this weekend. The act is nearing the end.

  13. Upstate Hydro Says:

    The Executive Session today lasted longer than the entire meeting. Trustee Foster put the fast man in his place a few times. It was great. He has been neutered. He is ineffective.

    At BG management employees have signed union cards. We are waiting for the outcome of the current IBEW negotiations for the next move. Lynn and Tracy will have a lot to deal with when this is all done. Its the only option with this dysfunctional company. If you cant beat them, join them.

    Thanks for the sounding board Mr. Marline. You seserve a medal.

  14. VeryconcernedNYPA Alum Says:

    Kessel’s Cover-up

    Recent news coverage thanks in part to your blog has focused on the appropriateness of Richie Kessel using NYPA funds to make grants to non-profits that appeared to be outside NYPA’s core purpose and in violation of the opinion issued by New York’s Attorney General.  Grants to various Chambers of Commerce on Long Island, as well as to the Pine Barrens Association of Long Island and even the group that provides shelter for Staten Island’s lovable ground hog, Chuck are defended by Kessel’s friends as legitimate on the basis that NYPA provides wholesale power to the area where these groups are located. 

    Ridiculous!!!!  Using that logic, every nonprofit in New York State should be eligible for a NYPA grant since NYPA provides power statewide to distribution utilities, government agencies and businesses.  Rather, the question should be do these groups have charters that align with the NYPA’s charter. 

    Also a larger and more important question is were each of these grants made in compliance with NYPA’s policies and procedures?  Or were procedures ignored once again by the all powerful, “above the law” Kessel?

    Further were the Trustees of NYPA informed of these grants? Do they agree that these grants represent a smart use of NYPA’s funds? Or were they kept in the dark as when Kessel gave Tom DeJesu, a $40,000 raise in the same calendar year and a promotion to SVP of Government Relations?  A position that already had an incumbent and still does!  Or did he get their approval when he gave Fran Evans, his friend from Nassau County, a $35,000 raise and a promotion to Executive Vice President.   Did the Trustees approve Kessel’s decision to forgive the $800, 000 of costs associated with funds installing lighting efficiency equipment in Nassau’s traffic lights?  Were they aware of the more than 40 “political hires” he authorized during his two and one half years as CEO?  Were they aware of the more than 150 sole source contracts he granted?

    Finally did Kessel tell the NYPA Trustees about the true costs of his pet new projects?  Projects such as The Hudson River Transmission Line Project (HTP), The Great Lakes Offshore Wind (GLOW) Project, and the Solar Project, all of which are projected to lose up to $200 million dollars a year for the next 20 years.   That is $4 billion present value dollars of losses over the next 20 years.  Are the Trustees aware of the extent of the destructive path he is on.  Do they believe this is the best use of state resources?    

    Kessel’s short record as CEO is clear, he used NYPA funds to take care of the FOKers, (Friends Of Kessel) ignored procedures and legal directives, incurred sizable debts in pursuit of stupid projects, awarded questionable sole source contracts to politically connected companies and kept his Board in the dark while he was doing all this.

    By now the Trustees should know the above assertions are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. If the  State Inspector General is given the freedom and resources, she will undoubtedly uncover the disgraceful way Kessel is running the New York Power Authority. 

    They should fire Kessel NOW and no political leader should stand in the way of their decision!  HE HAS ABUSED THE PUBLIC TRUST AND ALSO PROVEN TO BE A HIGHLY INCOMPETENT MANAGER at NYPA and LIPA.

    • farandaway Says:

      Excellent assessment of the issue, but are the Trustess part of the solution or are they part of Ritchie’s political hack squad. All come from the incompetent, ethically challenged, and corrupt Gov. Patterson appointments, and Townsend has to be put under the microscope also.

  15. Upstate Hydro Says:

    There is a trustee meeting tomorrow. Hopefully the reason for the executive session is to implement about management pay increases and to oust the “Fat Man”.

    Let’s get some trustees with the courage to see through the smoke and mirrors. The current slate of trustees find themselves lost and outmaneuvered by Richie and his pals.

    Pretty sad for a bunch of businessmen and attorneys. I wish the trustees would come to this site and listen to Mr. Marlin. He has been saying that Kessel is a crook for 3 years.

  16. No Fan Of Kessel Says:

    Get this corrupt whale and his incompetent hacks out of NYPA immediately!


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