A lack of leadership in years of downturn

Founded in 1980, the Business Council of New York State is synonymous with the decline of upstate.

Rarely has the organization taken a strong position on major reform to change the high-taxing structure associated with the massive number of governments or the far too many school districts in recent years. Instead, the Business Council of New York State stood powerless – and speechless – as companies relocated or closed over the past 33 years throughout upstate.

Last week, however, the council decided to make noise. It took aim at our region in an attempt to halt a $500 million private project by calling for the closing of the NRG Dunkirk power plant.

But that stance, in itself, may be a conflict of interest.

Sitting on the board of directors of the Business Council of New York State is Thomas B. King, president of National Grid. It is National Grid, a power purchaser from NRG, that seems to have a vested interest in closing the Dunkirk facility.

National Grid’s King must play a role in giving the Business Council information on electricity. Most likely it is his company’s side only, which coincides with National Grid’s recent statement to the Public Service Commission that it does not need the city plant in the future.

Take that – and the 33 years of the council’s lack of leadership during upstate’s exodus of people and business – for what it is worth.