June 20, 2018- by Steven E. Greer, MD
At the June 19th BPCA board meeting, Chairman and CEO Dennis Mehiel announced that he was leaving the authority. Board member George Tsunis will become the newly appointed Chairman. It is unclear whether the governor has already approved that appointment.
Interestingly, Tsunis will not also be the CEO as well as the Chairman. When Mehiel took over in 2012, he gave himself both positions. However, during his June 19th going away speech, Mehiel explained that the new CEO title should be given to the current president, Ben Jones and Chairman remain a separate position.
Mehiel offered no explanation for his departure. Governor Cuomo had refused to reappoint Mehiel ever since his term expired at the end of 2015.
Last week, Governor Cuomo signed into law a requirement that local BPC residents be part of the board, and other changes to the board. This was the impetus to Cuomo appointing a new Chairman after 2.5 years of lame duck leadership by Mehiel.
Since BatteryPark.TV began exposing corruption at the BPCA, all of the executives named in our reporting have been ousted, one way or the other. Some saw the writing on the wall and made lateral moves to lesser private sector jobs. Others were flat out fired.
During a federal deposition, Mehiel could not explain why Cuomo had not reappointed him or why he refused to step down. “Sources say” that Mehiel was stubbornly holding on to power as long as he could, resisting BatteryPark.TV in federal court, refusing to be that last person on our list.
Under Mehiel’s tenure as Chairman that started in 2012, Mehiel has overseen numerous scandals, such as:
- Allowing Pier-A to be intentionally flooded during Hurricane Sandy to get FEMA aid.
- Helping Pier-A become the world’s largest Irish pub rather than the public space it was meant to be.
- Illegally gutting the BPC Parks Conservancy of all budget and staff, leaving it to exist in name only.
- Replacing the city’s PEP officers with Cuomo-controlled private contracts for security.
- Selling hundreds of millions in bonds to raise money for the city and state at the expense of BPC residents who pay taxes to cover those bonds and debt service.
- Allowed CFO Robert Serpico to stay on the job long after it was made known in federal court documents that he was a serial sexual harasser worse than Harvey Weinstein.
- Firing numerous senior BPCA executives as retaliation for them doing their proper oversight functions into Robert Serpico.
- Evicted long-time manager of the North Cove Marina, Mike Fortenbaugh, so that he could have his friend and Cuomo ally Andrew Farkas bring in his own IGY Marina operation. The community sailing program was killed and never replaced, after unsuccessful attempts.
- Awarding RFP contracts to the highest bidders rather than the lowest bidders.
- Allowing the Brookfield Place renovations to drag on for many years, preventing residents from walking or biking north to south.
- Allowing real estate mogul LeFrak to run Gateway Plaza in horrendous conditions and eliminate the rent-stabilization programs.
- Doing nothing about anti-terrorism security before an ISIS terrorist mowed over dozens of people along the West Street bike path driving a truck, killing eight, despite the lack of vehicle barriers being an obvious security risk in the wake of numerous similar attacks in Europe.