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Kessel to lead Power Authority

I don't know Richard Kessel from Adam. Or Eve, for that matter.

All I know is what I read in the newspapers, in this case, those downstate that have been covering him for years. And the coverage has not been positive.

Kessel_2To read Newsday, Kessel has been less than a stickler when it comes to finances and ethics. Over the summer, it described his tenure at the head of the Long Island Power Authority as "replete with ups and downs, including ... sharp criticism of the authority's spending and disclosure policies." Read this from yesterday's edition.

And to read the New York Post, the guy is a complete political hack. Read this and this.

Kessel is pretty good with the quips, however.

Here's the coverage of of appointment, my story in today's Buffalo News and pieces from The New York Times and Newsday.

Although Kessel has a Republican pedigree, as a disciple of Alfonse D'Amato, George Maziarz, head of the State Senate's Energy Committe, couldn't hide his disappointment with the appointment. Assemblyman Sam Hoyt wasn't exactly gushing either.

Perhaps most telling, the NYPA board was divided on the hire, and it's usually a rubber stamp on such things.  Elise Cusack and and James Besha both voted no.

Interestingly enough, Congressman Brian Higgins passed on commenting on Kessel, saying he didn't know much about him. Rather, Higgins said it's important to focus attention on Paterson.

"We have to redouble our efforts to get the political leadership in Albany to recognize its obligation to the Buffalo Niagara region as it relates to the Niagara Power Project."

Richard Brodsky, the Westchester County Democrat who is no friend to state authorities as the chairman of the Assembly committee that oversees them, offered this take.

"It's a an interesting appointment. Richie is smart, and he knows the issues. He's made more than his share of mistakes, but he's not afraid to shake things up and this is an institution that needs to be shaken up.

"It's an unconventional pick with downsides, but it has an upside."

"I've said this to Richie directly -- if I was to characterize where he didn't do as well as he
should have, it's where he became a spokesman for the governor. That did not serve him well and it did not serve (the Long Island Power Authority) well. When he was his own person, he helped LIPA improve.

"He's got to be the chief executive of NYPA, not the governor's assistant to NYPA."

Worse-case scenario, Kessel futher politicizes an already politicized organization and doesn't concern himself with upstate. Those concerns are being expressed in private by a number of folks.

Best case, he shows he dispells fears he won't look beyond downstate by leading the charge on reforms on how power and profits generated at the Niagara Power Project are used to benefit WNY. Right now, things aren't breaking our way. In more ways than one.

Newday reported this today on Kessel's intentions.

In an interview, he said his priorities include expanding the transmission system, cooperating with an attorney general probes of NYPA, and bolstering renewable energy. He said he will emphasize the upstate region, where "NYPA has to go the extra mile to help the people and the economy."

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New York Power Authority
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