Paterson: NYSTI board must go

Gov. David Paterson is pulling the curtain on the remaining members of the board of directors for th

Gov. David Paterson is pulling the curtain on the remaining members of the board of directors for the embattled New York State Theatre Institute, telling them to resign immediately or else he will remove them.

Paterson also took control of the institute’s board Thursday by installing seven members of his Cabinet to fill vacancies on the 15-member board. On April 30, he appointed Karin Bowersock to the board, giving him control of eight seats.

Board Chairman David Morris, whose 4-year term expired Wednesday, has already resigned as have Amy Casale, Terry Hettesheimer, Dora Myers and Eugenia Sperrazza.

“The appointments are necessary to provide NYSTI with temporary stewardship until permanent appointees can be named, and to provide the public with the assurance that NYSTI is operating in a way that is fully transparent and accountable to taxpayers,” Paterson said in a news release.

Paterson said he sent letters to remaining institute board members Wendy Davenport, Kenneth Schmidt and Joyce Shenker calling for their immediate resignations.

“The governor has concluded that the board, as currently constituted, cannot be entrusted to oversee NYSTI’s chief executive and to guarantee the effective and ethical management of this public benefit corporation,” according to the governor’s news release.

Paterson said he is prepared to use his “full authority to remove these board members if they do not resign voluntarily.”

The governor’s action follows the release of a report by state Inspector General Joseph Fisch that said the institute’s board exercised lax control of the hiring and spending practices of longtime Producing Artistic Director Patricia Snyder. Fisch said Snyder misspent and misappropriated more than $1 million and violated nepotism laws. She is on unpaid leave from the institute.

The institute, based in Troy, appointed David Bunce to serve as interim producing artistic director. His appointment took effect Monday. Bunce is in his 26th season as a teacher and actor with the institute. He also serves as the company’s fight choreographer.

Paterson’s action also follows a recommendation by the state Authorities Budget Office recommending the removal of the institute’s board. Authorities Director David Kidera said his office concurs with Fisch’s report.

The Authorities Budget Office has legal standing under the Public Authorities Reform Act of 2009 to recommend the action, Kidera said. This is the office’s first recommendation since the law took effect two months ago. The Public Authorities Reform Act is designed to strengthen government oversight.

Morris has said the governor’s actions are actually an attempt to merge the institute with The Egg. “[I]t is consistent with the administration’s desire to merge and ultimately eliminate NYSTI. The main goal of the board, as it has been since day one, remains providing quality theater arts education for children throughout New York state. We hope the administration will engage in a meaningful and constructive dialogue toward achieving that end,” Morris said in a prior statement.

Categories: Schenectady County

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