I was really surprised when I read the headlines of the Hicksville Illustrated News on Friday, July 3 - "Herbst Named to LIPA Panel." [This article was also printed in the Syosset-Jericho Tribune.] Assemblyman Marc Herbst was offered and accepted an appointment by Richard Kessel to the LIPA newly created Clean Energy advisory panel. His glowing endorsement regarding his choice of Mr. Herbst as his perfect choice for this newly formed advisory panel that will have an active role in studying ways of how to use the $32 million set aside for energy conservation programs was disappointing to say the least. Maybe Richard Kessel should change his party registration.
Marc Herbst, only four years ago, was dead set against LIPA. During the election campaign of 1994 when Governor Cuomo was up for re-election, Mr. Herbst, who also was running for the assembly seat at the time, claimed that Governor Cuomo, who advanced the original plan for LIPA, was only doing it as a campaign ploy.
In his interview on Meet the Candidates on Channel 12, when Melba Toliver asked his opinion of this plan, he stated he was quite cynical about the LIPA plan proposed by Cuomo. He stated, "Now I am not a fan of LILCO by any means: My biggest concern is first of all you are taking a private company and you're going to have government run it. I have yet to see anything that government runs better and cheaper than private industry. LILCO is Hicksville's schools' highest taxpayer. If you remove it from the tax rolls, what does that do to the homeowner?" He went on to say when he was endorsing Pataki for governor: "We need a change in Albany and that starts with the governor. The chief executive officer in Albany has been miserable to L.I." The chief executive in Albany is still being miserable to L.I.
After winning the election, Pataki, who immediately wrote off the Cuomo plan as an election year ploy and the plan for LIPA to buy LILCO and cut rates by refinancing the debt with tax-exempt bonds as nothing more than big government and big borrowing, removed LIPA point man Richard Kessel. When he found after he had done this he was in trouble over LILCO and after all that election year posturing, he decided to adopt the Cuomo plan as his own and ultimately rehired Richard Kessel as its head. Marc Herbst now finds he has to support his governor and hopes his constituents forget what he stated during his campaign about the LIPA proposal. I think not!
Isn't the refund promised by Pataki and party for each homeowner the same type of election year ploy? A refund that we may not now get as the funding is in question after the decision handed down by Judge Weinstein that it was in violation of the 1989 Rico settlement. Isn't Pataki in trouble again with the LILCO/LIPA deal especially over the scandal regarding Catacosino's "golden parachute", even though the Democratic-majority Assembly passed legislation outlawing "golden parachutes" for those that direct public utilities? The State Republican-majority Senate has not. Pataki, Vacco and Kessel are all crying foul now - election year posturing? I find it hard to believe that this issue was not raised by the "Three Musketeers" when they were negotiating and agreeing to LILCO's (Catacosino's) demands. Why didn't the "Three Musketeers" know where every dollar was going in this deal? I guess they weren't as smart as LILCO (Catacosinos). LILCO ended up with $7 billion, and the rate payers got an incredible $30 billion plus interest for the next 30 years. It's very obvious that the "Three Musketeers" and all the legal staff attached to them didn't examine this deal closely enough or understand it or did they know what they were doing all along? Why are the rate payers paying for Shoreham gain? Why are they paying taxes on $2 billion tax-free capital gains for LILCO? Why is Catacosinos and others in the administration now working for MarketSpan saying the rate payers owe them $62 million? Why are the "Three Musketeers" (LIPA) wasting so much of taxpayers' and ratepayers' money on advertising telling Long Island how good they were to us? There may not be any illegal activities done in this deal; however, was it ethical or moral? Do these men and their followers have the proper business knowledge and moral standards that we want in our elected officials? I think not! The Long Island voters will decide in November.
Mr. Herbst also goes on to say, "I think my position on the Assembly Energy Committee has uniquely qualified me for this appointment. His presence on the committee is limited - only two years at most. Mr. Kessel cited his vast experience in the energy field and his "wide range of experience and knowledge" was the perfect choice. May I remind the public Mr. Herbst is only 35 years old, graduated college in 1985 with a BS in transportation engineering from Empire State College and Polytech University in 1989 with an MS in transportation. He worked as an aid (chauffeur) for Oyster Bay Town Superintendent of Highways and worked in the Road Sign Dept. He was a research assistant on Town Board in 1987 and five years later in 1992 moved up to receiver of taxes for the Oyster Bay Town Board. Then in Feb. 1993, he ran for the Assembly during a special election. Where is this vast experience in the energy field and on environmental issues? Is this appointment part of a master plan to make sure $32 million goes to the right companies for energy conservation, renewable technologies, etc.?
The advisory committee consists of political figures, business leaders and consumer representatives from across L.I. However, Mr. Herbst insults his educated constituency in this district and the other appointees to the panel by stating, "I think I have a realistic view of how the government process works as well as the administration of company policy. I am going to be more practical than someone who is coming in with no experience in government or energy policy issues." Remember, he is "uniquely qualified." We all know how their government process works and most voters feel alienated by it and that government in Albany is unresponsive to the hard-working "forgotten" middle class on Long Island. When did he work for a "company" and administer policy? He then goes on to say that he feels, LIPA, a state-run, service oriented organization, will be better suited in promoting conservation and the need for efficient and clean energy. What happened to "I have yet to see anything that government runs, something better and cheaper than private industry."? Hasn't history proven that some of our most serious polluters of the environment have been government agencies?
I leave you with one last thought. "I am looking forward to helping ensure that Long Islanders get their money's worth from LIPA's efficiency initiatives," said Herbst. Long Islanders will never get their money's worth from this deal -- only Wall Street and (LILCO) Catacosinos and the "Three Musketeers." (All for one, one for all!) got their money's worth.
Barbara V. Bubin - Buonagura
Democratic Candidate for New York State Assembly - 14th District