(NY Daily News Editorial) Ferry poor judgment: Knucklehead Governors Island boss shipwrecks boat buy

Craig M. Johnson

Ferry poor judgment: Knucklehead Governors Island boss shipwrecks boat buy


Everyone who has been around New York for more than a few minutes knows that purchasing on faith is never a good idea - everyone, it seems, except Leslie Koch.

Possessed of a rare combination of gullibility and cavalier indifference to money, Koch exhibits a steadfast belief in buying virtually sight unseen, no matter how loopy her acquisition patently is.

Like spending $922,645 to take title to a rusting hulk of a ferryboat that had been battered by the main off Cape Cod for almost 60 years on the thinking that the rotting craft would make a spiffy vessel for plying the waters of New York Harbor.

Wrong. Knuckleheadedly wrong.

On delivery, the M/V Islander proved as seaworthy as your average yellow cab, unfit for service between lower Manhattan and Governors Island, the realm Koch rules as president of the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corp.

So, she did the only thing a modern-day potentate can do under such circumstances. She auctioned the rustbucket on eBay, fetching $23,600. Her loss for the taxpayers of New York: $899,045.

Wrong. Knuckleheadedly wrong.

The state Senate's Standing Committee on Investigations and Government Operations detailed the saga in a report released yesterday.

It's a sorry tale.

Koch wants to buy a backup boat for the flotilla that carries people to Governors Island, an increasingly popular recreation facility. She believes purchasing rather than renting will save money, but used ferryboats are not easy to come by.

The Woods Hole, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority puts the Islander on the market - as is.

Koch hires a consultant, who hires a consultant, who happens to have been paid previously by the authority to write a report that said the Islander was shipshape, and the consultant reaches the same happy conclusion.

On the other hand, yet another consultant, who had never been in the seller's employ, warns Koch not to go ahead without far more serious inspection. But, intrepid soul that she is, Koch plunks down $500,000 to buy the boat and spends an astonishing $422,645 on consultants, maintenance and insurance.

And in all of this she was enabled by a board, then headed by former Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff, that never double-checked on her.

Wrong. Knuckleheadedly wrong.