Archive for the ‘Richie Kessel NYPA Watch-SCC’ category

The Kessel NYPA Watch, April 3, 2011 – By George J. Marlin

April 3, 2011

Street Corner Conservative.com has filed a request under New York State Freedom of Information Law with the FOIL officer of the New York Power Authority requesting certain public records of NYPA relating to various activities and policies of the C.E.O. of NYPA, Richie Kessel.

Street Corner Conservative will keep its readers informed of NYPA’s response to the FOIL request.

The following is the text of the letter sent today to NYPA’s FOIL officer:

New York Power Authority
Office of the Secretary
123 Main Street, 15-M
White Plains, NY 10601

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am a taxpayer and resident of the State of New York and pursuant to New York Public Officer Law and the provisions of the regulations of the New York Power Authority (NYPA) adopted pursuant to the Public Officer Law (21 NYCRR Part 453), I demand access to the following records by email to me if possible:

1. Information and records as to contributions, grants, donations, sponsorships, payments and purchase of tickets (collectively, “Expenditures of NYPA Public Money”) to or from not-for-profit entities, colleges, universities and research centers (collectively, “Recipients of NYPA Public Money”) from NYPA or any subsidiary or affiliate for the period January 1, 2011 through and including March 31, 2011;

2. Information and records as to whether each Expenditure of NYPA Public Money to each Recipient of NYPA Public Money from NYPA or any subsidiary or affiliate for the period January 1, 2011 through and including March 31, 2011 was processed in full compliance with NYPA board or entity policy and procedure for Expenditure of Public Money;

3. For each Expenditure of NYPA Public Money which involved purchase of tickets for an event held outside a NYPA facility, provide the names and relationship to NYPA of each person who used the ticket purchased or acquired by or through the Expenditure of NYPA Public Money;

If all of the records I have requested cannot be e-mailed to me, please inform me by e-mail of the portions that can be e-mailed and advise me of the cost for reproducing the remainder of the records requested.

If the requested records cannot be e-mailed to me due to the volume of records identified as responsive to my request, please advise me of the actual cost of copying such records onto a CD-ROM, if that is possible.

Please advise me of the cost of providing paper copies of the requested records.

If my request is deemed to be too broad or not to reasonably describe the requested records, please contact me via e-mail so that I may clarify my request and, when appropriate, please advise me as to how NYPA records are filed, retrieved, or generated.

If for any reason any portion of my request is denied, please inform me of the reasons for the denial in writing and provide the name, mailing address, and e-mail address of the person to whom an appeal should be directed. Thank you for your expected cooperation.

Very truly yours,

George J. Marlin

The Kessel NYPA Watch, March 21, 2011 – By George J. Marlin

March 21, 2011

Street Corner received the following letter on March 15, 2011 from NYPA’s Corporate Secretary.

Kessel is stonewalling again.  He will not release his updated contribution list until after the March 29, 2011 NYPA annual meeting.

Dear Mr. Marlin:

This is in response to your letter dated February 20, 2011 and received by this office on February 22, 2011 requesting the following records:        

1.  Information and records as to contributions, grants, donations, sponsorships, payments and purchase of tickets (collectively, “Expenditures of NYPA Public Money”) to or from not-for -profit entities, colleges, universities and research centers (collectively, “Recipients of NYPA Public Money”) from NYPA or any subsidiary or affiliate for the period July 1, 2010 through and including December 31, 2010;

2.  Information and records as to whether each Expenditure of NYPA Public Money to each Recipient of NYPA Public Money from NYPA or any subsidiary or affiliate for the period January 1, 2009 through and including December 31, 2010 was processed in full compliance with NYPA board or entity policy and procedure for Expenditure of Public Money;

3.  For each Expenditure of NYPA Public Money which involved purchase of tickets for an event held outside a NYPA facility, provide the names and relationship to NYPA of each person who used the ticket purchased or acquired by or through the Expenditure of NYPA Public Money;

4.  Information and records as to health insurance coverage or benefits or indemnification against health insurance liability or reimbursement of expenses of any such health insurance coverage provided now or at any time in the past to any present or former NYPA Board member;

5.   The names, titles and salaries of each person hired by NYPA since September 30, 2008, excluding union members covered under a collective bargaining agreement with NYPA. Provide in addition to name, title and salary for each such hire whether

a. the hire was to fill an existing vacant position/title as specifically reflected in the annual budget approved by the NYPA Board;

b. the vacancy was posted internally and/or externally; and

c. the position was newly created and did not exist prior to the hiring of such person;

6.  The names, titles and salaries of each person who has been promoted to vice; president or above by NYPA since September 30 2008 and the three year salary history of each such person, excluding union members covered under a collective bargaining agreement with NYPA.  Indicate whether each such promotion was considered by or approved by the NYPA Board; and

7.  The names, titles and amount of increase in salary of each vice president or higher who has received a raise in his or her salary since September 30, 2008, excluding union members covered under a collective bargaining agreement with NYPA.

Authority staff need an additional period of time to identify, locate, retrieve and review any such responsive records and will contact you on or about April 11, 2011 with the status of your request. 

Sincerely,

Karen Delince
Corporate Secretary
New York Power Authority

The Kessel NYPA Watch, March 13, 2011 – By George J. Marlin

March 13, 2011

Memo

 To:    Senator George Maziarz and the Senate Energy
             and Telecommunications Committee

Re:     Review of Richie Kessel’s Tenure as CEO of NYPA

A Consumer Advocate or a Consummate Fool?

Since becoming the CEO of NYPA, Richard Kessel has made a score of political hires, many from Long Island and most not having the credentials to do the job in which they were placed.  For example, the Vice President for Emergency Planning and Chief Labor Negotiator, has no Emergency Planning or Labor Relations experience.  The Vice President of Human Resources, was formerly Receiver of Taxes for the Town of North Hempstead.  Many of these positions were created by moving existing approved budgeted positions from other departments to create openings for political hires from Long Island and elsewhere.  In the past year, Kessel has given some of these people promotions and salary increases in excess of 20 percent without informing the Power Authority Board of Trustees or putting out public announcements on the promotions.  This at a time when Governor Cuomo has imposed a wage freeze and may have to lay off thousands of state workers.

Also in less than a year, Kessel’s new assistant, Fran Evans, was promoted to the newly created position of Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer and Chief of Staff and received a $30,000 increase in salary at a time when most employees at the Authority were subject to a salary freeze.

Kessel created an additional position for a Senior Vice President of Government Relations when one already existed.  In addition he has two Vice Presidents, a few staff directors and three outside lobbyists all working on State Government Relations for a state authority.

Kessel also hired a former Power Authority Trustee, four weeks after she stepped down from her position on the Board, to be a part-time employee at $77,500 per year!  Her assignment is to represent the Authority in Buffalo.  It is uncertain what she does or has accomplished.

Kessel has failed to comply in a timely manner with a number of requests for information under the Freedom of Information Law, many of which would confirm the above information as well as reveal expense account filings of his top management.

At Kessel’s direction, the Power Authority has made a number of contributions and grants that did not comply with Attorney General Cuomo’s 2007 Opinion on this subject, were not reported to the Authority’s Trustees and, in many cases, did not follow contributions approval procedures of NYPA.  Many were directed to Long Island organizations having no business relationship with NYPA or state energy issues including thousands to his hometown Chamber of Commerce.

Kessel has pursued the development of a number of new projects that are known by internal staff and external electricity experts to be significant money losers which would threaten the financial viability of the Power Authority and likely result in a significant reduction in the organization’s credit rating.  The following highlights the major projects that NYPA staff is working on developing, with the estimated annual loss in net present value dollars for each one.

Hudson River Transmission Project * $40 to $80 million per year for 20 years
GLOW (Great Lakes Wind) $80 to $120 million per year for 20 years
100- Mw Solar Project $20 to $30 million per year for 20 years

 *This project, as now constituted, bears little resemblance to the one that was selected as part of the winning bid by the Power Authority in 2006 following a competitive Request for Proposals process.

In addition, NYPA resources will be further drained by a contribution of $100 million to New York State this year as well as obligations to make annual payments totaling tens of millions of dollars to local governments and projects in Western and Northern New York.  The existence of these commitments makes Kessel’s blind pursuit of money-losing projects all the more reckless.

Finally, in his first two years at NYPA, Kessel’s management had led to significant underperformance in NYPA operating income including an approximate $150 million plus operating income shortfall in 2010 alone.  NYPA’s lagging income threatens its finances, its ability to afford to pursue Kessel’s grandiose projects and NYPA’s double AA credit rating.

The information stated above has come from a number of sources including current and former employees of the New York Power Authority.  Street Corner encourages all who wish to contribute to this effort to write with additional information to further expose Kessel’s incompetence and his blatant inability or unwillingness to conduct himself as a responsible and prudent public official.

The Kessel NYPA Watch, February 20, 2011 – By George J. Marlin

February 20, 2011

Street Corner Conservative.com has filed a request under New York State Freedom of Information Law with the FOIL officer of the New York Power Authority requesting certain public records of NYPA relating to various activities and policies of the C.E.O. of NYPA, Richie Kessel.

Street Corner Conservative will keep its readers informed of NYPA’s response to the FOIL request.

The following is the text of the letter sent today to NYPA’s FOIL officer:

New York Power Authority
Office of the Secretary
123 Main Street, 15-M
White Plains, NY 10601

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am a taxpayer and resident of the State of New York and pursuant to New York Public Officer Law and the provisions of the regulations of the New York Power Authority (NYPA) adopted pursuant to the Public Officer Law (21 NYCRR Part 453), I demand access to the following records by email to me if possible:

1. Information and records as to contributions, grants, donations, sponsorships, payments and purchase of tickets (collectively, “Expenditures of NYPA Public Money”) to or from not-for-profit entities, colleges, universities and research centers (collectively, “Recipients of NYPA Public Money”) from NYPA or any subsidiary or affiliate for the period July 1, 2010 through and including December 31, 2010;

2. Information and records as to whether each Expenditure of NYPA Public Money to each Recipient of NYPA Public Money from NYPA or any subsidiary or affiliate for the period January 1, 2009 through and including December 31, 2010 was processed in full compliance with NYPA board or entity policy and procedure for Expenditure of Public Money;

3. For each Expenditure of NYPA Public Money which involved purchase of tickets for an event held outside a NYPA facility, provide the names and relationship to NYPA of each person who used the ticket purchased or acquired by or through the Expenditure of NYPA Public Money;

4. Information and records as to health insurance coverage or benefits or indemnification against health insurance liability or reimbursement of expenses of any such health insurance coverage provided now or at any time in the past to any present or former NYPA Board member;

5. The names, titles and salaries of each person hired by NYPA since September 30, 2008, excluding union members covered under a collective bargaining agreement with NYPA. Provide in addition to name, title and salary for each such hire whether

          a. the hire was to fill an existing vacant position/title as specifically reflected in the annual budget approved by the NYPA Board;

          b.  the vacancy was posted internally and/or externally; and

          c.  the position was newly created and did not exist prior to the hiring of such person;

6. The names, titles and salaries of each person who has been promoted to vice president or above by NYPA since September 30, 2008 and the three year salary history of each such person, excluding union members covered under a collective bargaining agreement with NYPA. Indicate whether each such promotion was considered by or approved by the NYPA Board; and

7. The names, titles and amount of increase in salary of each vice president or higher who has received a raise in his or her salary since September 30, 2008, excluding union members covered under a collective bargaining agreement with NYPA.

If all of the records I have requested cannot be e-mailed to me, please inform me by e-mail of the portions that can be e-mailed and advise me of the cost for reproducing the remainder of the records requested.

If the requested records cannot be e-mailed to me due to the volume of records identified as responsive to my request, please advise me of the actual cost of copying such records onto a CD-ROM, if that is possible.

Please advise me of the cost of providing paper copies of the requested records.

If my request is deemed to be too broad or not to reasonably describe the requested records, please contact me via e-mail so that I may clarify my request and, when appropriate, please advise me as to how NYPA records are filed, retrieved, or generated.

If for any reason any portion of my request is denied, please inform me of the reasons for the denial in writing and provide the name, mailing address, and e-mail address of the person to whom an appeal should be directed. Thank you for your expected cooperation.

Very truly yours,

George J. Marlin

The Kessel NYPA Watch, February 13, 2011 – By George J. Marlin

February 13, 2011

Fool Me Once, Shame on You; Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me

When Kevin Law was appointed as CEO of the Long Island Power Authority following Governor Spitzer’s decision to fire Richie Kessel in 2007, one of the first and wisest things he did in surveying the damage and destruction wrought by Kessel was to request an opinion from then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo about various questionable actions undertaken by Kessel.

Among the actions AG Cuomo was asked to address was whether Kessel’s use of public monies at LIPA to fund various Long Island and other not-for-profits was proper.  As Newsday learned after persevering in its FOIL requests (sounds familiar) Kessel gave away well over $1 million of LIPA public money over the course of his term.

In October 2007, in response to Kevin Law’s request, AG Cuomo wrote that many of Kessel’s contributions were improper.  In a formal written opinion, the Attorney General wrote:

In the event, however, that a financial contribution does not directly relate to one of LIPA’s powers, duties, or purposes, then we believe it would fall outside LIPA’s authority to give. As a creature of statute, LIPA lacks powers not granted to it by express or necessarily implicated legislative delegation. While we recognize that the LIPA Act is to be liberally construed to effect its purposes, Public Authorities Law § 1020-gg, its purposes must in fact be served in order for LIPA’s acts to be authorized.

With respect to the charitable giving program, we find nothing in the powers, duties, or purposes of LIPA that renders improving community goodwill or the well-being of the community unrelated to the provision of electrical service as part of LIPA’s mission. Moreover, while LIPA has “all the powers necessary or convenient to carry out the purposes and provisions” of the LIPA Act, Public Authorities Law § 1020-f, we believe that increased goodwill is neither necessary nor convenient for complying with the provisions of or achieving the purposes of the LIPA Act. “Indeed, the beneficial corporate public relations generated by the largesse made in the name of public utilities essentially advances predominately the private interests of the utility corporations…and are too peripheral to the service interests of the ratepayers.” Furthermore, the charitable contribution program appears to conflict with the “sine qua non objective” of the LIPA Act, “to give LIPA the authority to save ratepayers money by controlling and reducing utility costs.” For these reasons, we are of the opinion that the charitable contribution program is not authorized.

AG Cuomo’s written opinion is available at this link:

 http://www.ag.ny.gov/bureaus/appeals_opinions/opinions/2007/formal/2007-F4.pdf

Street Corner has deleted case citations in the quote above for purposes of readability.

Here’s Street Corner Conservative’s question. Newsday reported extensively on the AG’s opinion at the time and Kessel declined to be quoted (a rarity since he lives to have his name in the paper), so Kessel was fully aware of the position of the AG on donations of public money for purposes unrelated to the mission of a State public authority. Therefore, since Kessel had knowledge of the law and then intentionally and recklessly spent hundreds of thousands of public money on sponsorships in no way related to the mission of NYPA, shouldn’t there be consequences, serious ones?