Mayor: It's Easy to Criticize LIPA

Mayor Don Brudie suggests utility company is not fully to blame.

A utility worker does hs job in spite of inclement weather. (Credit: Ed Oppenheimer)
A utility worker does hs job in spite of inclement weather. (Credit: Ed Oppenheimer)
Days following Hurricane Sandy, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a stern warning to public utilities, saying the state would hold the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and others responsible if they were not adequately prepared for the superstorm.

Cuomo launched a statewide commission to hold the state's utilities accountable for their performance. Cuomo's commission, which will have the power to subpoena and examine witnesses under oath, will probe the preparation and management of state utilities in the wake of recent major weather events such as Sandy, Tropical Storm Irene and Tropical Strom Lee in 2011, which caused disastrous flooding in upstate New York.

The commission will then make recommendations to reform a system that is already plagued with operational overlaps between the New York Power Authority, LIPA, the Public Service Commission and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, according to Cuomo's office. Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice will be the only Long Islander on the commission.

Trustee Dennis Donnelly suggested the board ask the governor to look at all the things the utility companies did wrong through his newly appointed commission.

"I think the committee should look at what other utility companies in the 50 states do because it seems to me that when the CEO of LIPA gets on radio and TV the day before the nor'easter and says 'as a result of the coming storm 40,000 or 50,000 customers will go out of service' That's unacceptable," he said. "That's an infrastructure that obviously doesn't work."

Donnelly added, "When you look at Minnestoa, Michigan, Montana, or any states on the northern tier west of New York, every time they have a storm they don't see the amount of customers we lose on Long Island. I know we are denser than most places but there has to be technology .... this commission ought to take a look at that and come back to Long Island to say what we should be doing."

Mayor Don Brudie suggested that perhaps the finger shouldn't be pointed at LIPA.
"It's easy to criticize LIPA. I criticized them. I argued with them on the phone," he said. "But really, think about it. Nobody, no corporation in the country, would have been prepared to handle this devastation. It was everywhere. It wasn't in one local area. Can LIPA be prepared and know this particular pole is going to come down or this group of poles? This was just a weird storm."

He complimented the sanity of the people of Garden City. "It was a very difficult situation ... I only had a few irate callers asking 'what are you doing about LIPA?' Like we had control over LIPA. We had no control over them. I was out as long as you people were out. We were in this together and we worked through it."

Trustee Laurence Quinn noted that Cuomo appoints LIPA's trustees, a 15-member board which currently has five vacancies," he said. "I'm sort of interested to see how well he separated himself from the LIPA fiasco considering he's the one responsible for many of the trustees sitting on that board," he added.

LIPA defended its storm response and vow to continue working around the clock until all customers are restored. Many in Garden City were without power for an average of eight days, others 12 to 13 days, while some are still out as of 3 p.m. Tuesday.

In the midst of all the chaos, LIPA Chief Operating Officer Michael Hervey resigned, effective the end of 2012.

TELL US: Do you think LIPA was solely to blame? Let us know in the comments section below.
Steve F November 20, 2012 at 06:41 PM
No, I dont think LIPA was solely to blame. I think its unacceptable for the Village of GC to know this storm was coming for a full week and yet not be prepared. Having a special meeting to procure contractors the Friday after the storm is unacceptable. Having sections of a neighborhood completely cut off from emergency responders for days until the neighbors chainsawed the 2 trees cutting off the block is unacceptable. LIPA can't make repairs until the trees are cleared. I called as a first responder that could not get off my block and was told crews would be out asap so I could get off my block and respond to emergency calls, yet no one ever came.
Daniel Malito November 20, 2012 at 07:22 PM
I have to say I am losing faith in our Mayor if he thinks LIPA is not to blame. They spent no time at all preparing for the storm. It's been documented. In addition, they bungled the after-storm chain of command, prepared and provided no places for the visiting crews to stay, and made it hard for non-union workers to help. This has all been documented. LIPA is not at fault for the damage, but they are CERTAINLY at fault for not preparing for and responding well to the storm. Just because it's a bandwagon doesn't mean it isn't true.
Jack O'Niel November 21, 2012 at 10:15 AM
Funny how the Mayor is feeling this way now... http://gardencity.patch.com/groups/opinion/p/mayor-no-words-to-express-my-frustration-with-lipas-management Just another political move that puts him at odds with the Trustees from the East because you know he can't ever agree with them on anything.
Jeffrey R. Notarbartolo November 21, 2012 at 11:06 AM
What disturbs me most about LIPA's conduct is their reaction to the storm and the needs of its customers. Yes, It was a huge storm and certainly some of us would have been affected even with the best preparation that LIPA could muster. But that's not the point. LIPA failed to treat its customers with any respect or compassion. They were silent, when they should have provided regular and detailed updates as to their progress. Instead, it seems to me that they just "thumbed their nose" at all of us. They could have taken some cues from our County Executive Ed Mangano, would was giving regular updates through radio news outlets.


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