In 2008, the Long Island Press Power List Hall of Fame welcomed its first class of inductees—people who had made the Power List for five years, people whose power had been clearly established. Now in its third year, the Hall of Fame welcomes eight new members, power players of all stripes: an activist, a PBA president, an outgoing LIPA president but incoming LIA head. And more.
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Autism United President, Spectrum Magazine Publisher
According to two new government surveys completed in 2009, the number of autistic children in America is much higher than previously believed. As recently as last year, it was thought that one in 150 children was autistic; the number is now believed to be approximately one in 100. And as the number of autistic and developmentally disabled children continues to increase, so too does the necessity for Evelyn Ain and the service she provides. Few have done so much to spread autism awareness. The primary vehicle for Ain’s mission is her magazine, Spectrum, of which she is publisher. The content in Spectrum’s pages and on its website covers autism in its many forms, and serves as an essential news source for parents, educators, physicians and others who must keep abreast of the constant advancements in this fast-changing field. Along with Spectrum, Ain is also the founding director of Autism United, a national organization based in Hicksville that has brought autism awareness to the forefront of the media. Is it possible to overstate her power at this juncture? The need for autism awareness has never been greater, and the cause has no champion more dedicated than Ain.
Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association President
Just because an arbitrator recently awarded Frayler and the county’s beat cops a raise—despite Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy’s protests—doesn’t mean he’s done trading barbs with the administration. Frayler had been in attack mode ever since Levy took office, although the feud reached fever pitch when Levy ordered the Suffolk County Sheriff’s office to take over for the Highway Patrol. Lately, Levy has suggested that efforts by Suffolk County lawmakers to remove Police Commissioner Richard Dormer (whom Frayler has long criticized as being Levy’s pawn) are being motivated by PBA interests—charges legislators deny. Regardless of whether Frayler is behind the proposal to fire the commissioner, just the fact that the issues he has been championing all these years are now taking the main stage puts him in a powerful position.
U.S. Representative (D-Huntington)
Now in his fifth term representing the Second District, Steve Israel has become a true congressional powerhouse, serving on the Select Intelligence Oversight panel, whose 13 members review the top-secret budgets and programs of the U.S. intelligence community. If there’s a pressing homeland security issue, Israel is right in the middle of it. Israel is also on the House Appropriations Committee, where the money is, and is on the important Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, which funds the Army Corps of Engineers. When the storm waters of the Long Island Sound recently cut off Eaton’s Neck from Asharoken, the congressman made sure the Army Corps was ready to wade into the breach. He’s also an innovator on energy issues, coming up with the successful “Cash for Clunkers” program as well as sponsoring an initiative to spread solar power technology to villages in developing countries. The congressman topped the short list of Democrats thinking about challenging appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in a primary, but, under pressure from President Obama, he withdrew. Think he was disappointed? He can take it; after all, he’s a lifelong Mets fan.
New York State Democratic Chairman and Nassau County Democratic Chairman
Since becoming the State Democratic Party chairman last year, Nassau leader Jay Jacobs has seen key New Yorkers come and go as he rose to the pinnacle of his party’s power. He’s had to say farewell to his county executive, Tom Suozzi, who lost a squeaker, and watch while his governor, David Paterson, called off his re-election bid after a week. But through it all, Jacobs has kept his cool and bided his time. And why not? He knows he’s got the strongest Democrat in the Empire State now sitting pretty at the top of the ticket. Andrew Cuomo doesn’t even have to declare he’s running for governor; everybody knows he’s the front-runner. As a rising tide lifts all boats, Jacobs finds his candidates in better shape on the ballot than he dared to dream only a few months ago when the chairman faced the messy prospect of a bitter fight between an ambitious attorney general and the embattled unelected governor. Don’t forget that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand also dodged a potentially draining primary. The Republicans only wish they had it so good. This Democratic leader is one lucky guy.
New York Power Authority President and CEO
Watts up with Richie? The irrepressible CEO of the New York Power Authority has been lighting up the Empire State, burning up the miles between Long Island and Buffalo, Rochester and Westchester, to oversee the vital needs of the power grid. Nobody’s plugged in like him. One minute he’s in Jefferson County, the next he’s overlooking Niagara Falls. Some local folks still can’t get over the shock that Kessel is no longer head of the Long Island Power Authority. It’s time to move on, people. Kessel certainly has, and it’s a tribute to his drive and vision that he is properly enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Talk about renewable energy, Kessel is a one-man perpetual-motion machine. He may have gotten burned by the South Shore when his plans for giant windmills in the Atlantic were shot down, but his Great Lakes Offshore Wind initiative looks very promising indeed, and NYPA’s 100 Megawatt Solar request for proposals is certainly gathering steam. Summer’s coming, and the temperatures will soon be soaring, but Kessel won’t be cooling down any time soon. The big man is off and running.
Outgoing President and CEO of LIPA, Incoming President of the Long Island Association
The first year Kevin Law made the Power List was 2006. Back then, he was Chief Deputy County Executive and General Counsel for Suffolk County, where he had direct oversight of all county departments, which consisted of more than 12,000 employees and a $2.7 billion budget. By the time 2007’s Power List rolled around, he had been appointed by then-Governor Eliot Spitzer as Chairman of the Board at Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), the second largest public utility in the country with more than 1.1 million customers. When time came to put together the 2008 Power List, Law had been appointed President and CEO of LIPA. Now he’s in the Hall of Fame, and once again, his title is changing. He’s preparing to leave behind his role at LIPA and take over as president of the Long Island Association (LIA), the largest business organization in New York, comprising more than 5,000 businesses, labor unions, colleges, universities, not-for-profits, government agencies, and civic groups, which employ two-thirds of Long Island’s workforce. He’ll still be in the Hall of Fame next year—and wherever he is, he’ll still have power.