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What does Jim Pitts have to do with this?

Does Western New York have strong advocates on the governing board of the New York Power Authority?

We've got two members from WNY on NYPA's seven-member board of trustees, D. Patrick Curley, a Higgins guy, and Elise Cusack, a Reynolds gal.

Cusack has done nothing to rock the boat during her three years on the board. Heck, for a year she didn't even show up in person to attend meetings. Curley, who took office last fall, has been silent thus far, at least in public, although I hear he's not shy in the board room.

Cusack's term expires next year and her reappointment from a Democratic governor is, well, not gonna happen. A seat is opening up the end of this month with the resignation of Chairman Frank McCullough.

That leaves the prospect of another appointment from Western New York, if not this year, next. That got me thinking: Who would be an effective voice for WNY?

I think a handful of key criteria ought to be applied for prospective candidates:

They need to be smart.

They must be knowledgeable of power and/or economic development issues.

They must know how to operate in a political environment.

And, most importantly, they've got to be a strong advocate. We need one.

I went so far as to put together a list of 10 or so folks, mostly people I have dealt with while reporting on the Power Authority these past couple of years. There are a couple of intriguing possibilities.

One is Paul Dyster, the new mayor of Niagara Falls. Hizoner will probably grimace upon reading this, as he's beyond busy. But the guy is really smart on this stuff, and turning around Niagara Falls is going to require better use of the region's allocation of low-cost hydropower generated at the Niagara Power Project in Lewiston.

Appointment to the NYPA board would involve more work, more travel, to be sure. But the investment of time would yield more results than, say, dealing with the city zoning board. It would also give Dyster greater standing with elected officials and business leaders, not only in WNY, but throughout the state.

The other guy who comes to mind? Well, before I mention the name, I want those white business e-lites reading this post to sit down.

OK, ready?

James W. Pitts.

Yeah, Pitts.

When last seen, Pitts was being chased out of public office by the e-lites, and they almost certainly would object to his appointment. Then again, they've been largely missing in action when it comes to making a push to make better use of the authority's low-cost power to revitalize the regional economy.

No one questions Pitts' intelligence. He knows politics. He was light years ahead of most everyone locally in seeing the potential of green economic development, founding the Green Gold Development Corp. He runs his own development company now and does work in Niagara Falls, as well as Buffalo. He would bring diversity to a board, and organization, presently lacking it. (When I asked the Power Authority the last time it had a minority board membeer, the answwer I got back was "maybe never.")

Most importantly, Pitts has a track record of being a strong, effective advocate.

Think Pitts would take no for an answer when it comes to getting more for WNY from NYPA?

I think not.

What do you think? Anyone else comes to mind?


New York Power Authority
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