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Dominos continue to fall

First, NYPA President and CEO Roger Kelley got the hook from David Paterson after just one year on the job. Now authority Chairman Frank McCullough is resigning despite having two years left on his term. No official reason has been stated as to why, but McCullough was known to be tight with Kelley.

Cause and effect? I don't know.

But I do know the governor is about to reshape NYPA. And how.

He'll pick Kelley's successor, which will be no doubt rubber stamped by the NYPA board.

He'll also have a big say in who becomes chairman.

And once the state Senate confirms two pending nominations, and another forthcoming to replace McCullough, board members appointed by Spitzer and Paterson will hold five of seven seats.

Numerous press reports have speculated that Richard Kessel, the former Long Island Power Authority chairman and CEO, will succeed Kelley. But that chatter has been going on for more than a month and the longer he's not appointed, the more likely it is that he won't.

He comes with some baggage - a reputation as being very political and an uneven tenure as boss of the Long Island Power Authority. And his appointment would probably set off some folks in WNY.

If you want to know more, read this and this story from Newsday and this broadside from the New York Post.

Quiniones_2Reading the tea leaves, I wonder if Gil Quiniones might end up with the job. He's an senior vice president at the authority.

Noteworthy: Shortly after Kelley announced his resignation, effective the end of this month, Quiniones was named interim chief operating officer. The last guy to hold the job was Tim Carey, who, a few months later, was hired as president and CEO in 2006. Hmmm.

From what I've heard, Quiniones has impressed since joining the authority less than a year ago. I've had a handful of dealings with him, first when he worked in a senior energy position in New York City government, and then with NYPA. He seemed to know his stuff. Whether he's qualified to run such a huge operation, I don't know.

As for chairman, there's a limited field to choose from, as three of seven board members are lame ducks, waiting to be replaced.

Michael Townsend will succeed McCullough on an interim basis, but he's a Pataki appointee and therefore probably out of the running. Ditto for Elise Cusack, who only has a year left on her term, anyway.

So, unless the chairman its going be be a newcomer, the competition is between D. Patrick Curley, a business consultant from Buffalo who is tight with Brian Higgins, and James Besha, an engineer from Albany. Both are Spitzer nominees, and, from what I hear, the loudest guys in the boardroom these days.

All this turnover on the board, and George Maziarz's role as gatekeeper of the Senate's confirmation process, presents an opportunity for bolstering WNY's clout on the NYPA board. I'll blog more on that tomorrow. So, as they say, stay tuned.

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New York Power Authority
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