April 10, 2011; Source: New York Post | The New York Post provides a shocking look at the pay and perks for top officials of a nonprofit that oversees the state's electrical power grid. The New York Independent Service Operator (NYISO), which the newspaper says "manages high-voltage lines and oversees the sale of electricity from power plants to utilities" in the state, paid $875,000 in salary and $489,000 in benefits in 2009 to its president and CEO, Stephen G. Whitley.
The nonprofit's most recent IRS filings also show that Karen Antion, board chair, received $377,000 in salary and perks that same year. In addition, the group paid six of its nine board members $100,000 for working just 14 hours a week. "It's a scandal," said Richard Brodsky, a former state assemblyman. "The salaries are excessive. It's the directors' compensation that makes you nuts."
Brodksy isn't the only one complaining. The paper says one person, described as an "efficiency" expert, quit “in disgust" over the agency's "wasteful" practices. "They were spending money like water," he said. "It was the most poorly run organization that I've ever worked for . . . Executives were basically stealing the company blind."
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Other examples of excessive spending contained in the Post story include: the NYISO board chair and president routinely taking first-class air trips; quarterly meetings for utility executives the group held "at golf courses, complete with lobster and steak lunches," as well as "boozy Christmas parties with live music and food galore."
In 2009, the agency collected $139 million in fees from power companies in the state. One of the companies, Con Ed, which provides electricity to New York City residents, passes along those fees, which average $7.16 per person a year. The utility's customers who've never heard of NYIOS are undoubtedly in for a jolt as they learn more about lavish pay and spending at the nonprofit whose employees are supposed to be looking over their interests.—Bruce Trachtenberg