February 1, 2008

A $50K Question for the Power Coalition

If there is one group in Niagara County that has been pillaged in the press, sometimes fairly, other times not, it has to be the Niagara Power Coalition. Aaron Besecker, then of the Niagara Gazetter and now of the Buffalo News, made a cottage industry of hammering away on the NPC, especially on legal bills and the lack of accountability.

In some circles, Besecker was accused of being Lewiston Supervisor Fred Newlin's mouthpiece. They may be a tad unfair, although he did allow Newlin to hammer away unchallenged at Mark Zito and the politically-connected Harris Beach law firm, who by all accounts did a good job in getting the coalition deal finalized with the New York Power Authority.

Newlin's antics led to a switch in law firms and Newlin led the NPC to hiring Nixon Peabody and that's all anybody has heard since....until now.

We have been told that the NPC is spending $50K a month on legal bills. That's right, $50,000 A MONTH. And with the deal being signed, what the heck are they doing for the money? It's seems like they are getting a nice payday at our expense.

It's time Aaron Besecker and other media types put Newlin and the NPC back under scrutiny and FOIL these legal bills. Let's find out what is going on and what we are getting for our money.


fed up in da falls said...

What can you possibly be spending that money on? It's amazing the way these lawyers take us for a ride.

Fat Tony said...

No, Fed UP, what's amazing is the politicans who let them get away with it. All those legal bills and the press is running around on all this small stuff like whether O'Connor got paid a few extra days.

These guys are asleep at the wheel.

fed up in da falls said...


I agree with that too. Where is the accountability for these legal bills. Who in the NPC actually checks? How is Fred Newlin getting a free ride here with his hand-picked firm of Nixon Peabody when he was the one who raised the origianl fracas about NPC legal bills?

Anonymous said...

I thought the NYPA agreement was already in place. What on earth could they be spending $50k a month on? Again, no accountability.

Proud Democrat said...

How do we know for sure that Fred Newlin "hand picked" this law firm. For that matter how do we know that they are spending that much money a month? I seem to remember that almost all of the parties involed with the process threw Mr. Zito under the bus for his actions. But as far as Harris Beach doing such a good job, look at the final price tag for that one.

This deal was done so the power authority and the elected officals involed good look good. Throw some scraps of what the power authority gets to the locals and they get their license. But Fred Newlin fought for alittle more than what they were offering. It may not have been totally free electricity, but atleast his residents see a savings. What can the other parties involed tell there residents.

As far as the gazette reporter on how is articles were slanted. I have no answer for that.Sometimes thats just how the gazette works.

pirate's code said...

Hobbes writes "...the politically-connected Harris Beach law firm."

I think you could drop "Harris Beach" and insert the name of most any large law firm and the phrase would still be correct. Frankly, politically-connected law firm is redundant.

Just for fun, though...If you had some really important issue or project that required legal help, would you hire a firm that no one heard of? Especially for an issue or project that, like it or not, involved poltics.

I'm sure Uncle Bob's Law Firm & Muffler Shop is cheaper than Harris or Nixon or even Peabody, but...?

Anonymous said...

Finally! Here are some numbers to think about: 7 entities (includes the schools) times contibutions of $30,000 x 10 years (actually 14 years according to a statement one power coalition member made) equals 2.9 million dollars spent. The NPC has already been chastized by NYS for how they have used the money. Currently, or at least a month or so ago, they were 160,000 in the hole.

Now the next question: if Zito wins the lawsuit: where's the money coming from? Rumor has it from a person who attends the county meetings, taxes were raised to cover the 160,000.

Proud Democrat said...

Nice, I heard that rumor too.

feedup said...

Ok , get this the Power coalitions budget for the last 3 years has Harris Beach getting 770K thousand , then Fred Newlin got rid of them because they were not saving the taxpayer money! Only to bring on Nixon Peabody for 3-400 per hour who have spent 500k last year, 347k for this year. Hey Fred did you know that if you would of kept Harris and Beach at least you would of had a law firm that knew the issues and wouldn't have charged over 800k to settle a suit that should never have happened accept for the fact that your coalition screwed the guy who got you a billion. ugh!!!!!

feedup said...

Oh!by the way, if you haven't take notice , the power coalition hasn't employed one person, or not one business has been brought in after the coalition brokered a deal for power and money. So they screwed their chief executive and now their screwing us just one question can we sue?

Anonymous said...

how fed up are you? because you could contact the newly revised ethics commission in albany. you could ask NYPA to not put the greenway money into their hands based on past history. you could make more people aware of what's happening. you could ask the state and assembly elected to do something. you could write letters to the editors. you can blog other sites. you could ask the greenway commission to lobby for better control.