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Pols: Feds Should Take Over LIPA

Rep. Steve Israel calls for former FEMA director to take over LIPA.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Governor Cuomo and Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano speak about the recovery effort in Long Beach last week. Credit Joseph Kellard.
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Governor Cuomo and Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano speak about the recovery effort in Long Beach last week. Credit Joseph Kellard.
In a show of political force and in a sign of growing exasperation, congressmen, state and town leaders joined with Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano Friday in calling for federal government intervention at the Long Island Power Authority. 

Hurricane Sandy ripped through the region Oct. 29, leaving millions of Long Islanders in the dark. Wednesday’s nor’easter did further damage to the already-fragile power grid.  But 11 days into the crisis, Mangano said LIPA’s actions have not been enough.

“To put it into terms that Washington can readily understand, LIPA’s power is at Defcon Two,” Mangano said. “The power condition is beyond urgent. The Federal government must shake up and wake up LIPA to get the power turned on.” 

Rep. Steve Israel, D-Huntington, said James Lee Witt, the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, should be brought in immediately to oversee the utility.

“James Lee Witt came in and fixed the federal response to both Katrina and Rita when no one else could,” Israel said.

“He’s been to my district at an Emergency Preparedness forum that I organized. He’s considered no nonsense and a no-red-tape problem solver. He is someone who actually knows how to get the lights on and the fuel flowing. This morning, I asked him if he could come to New York, go into LIPA, and get results. And I’ve asked the governor to bring him in immediately.”

More than 131,000 LIers were still without power Friday afternoon, including 82,056 in Nassau.

“Almost two weeks after Hurricane Sandy, LIPA customers are still in the dark with LIPA power lines and communications lines still down,” Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray said.

“A combination of constantly changing policies, poor communications and management void has left hundreds of thousands of customers with little clear information on LIPA's power restoration plan and even less of an idea when they may expect power restored. It's time for LIPA to tell customers the truth, be accountable and restore power, now!”

Mangano cited the Department of Energy's Federal Power Act section 202(c) emergency authority to bring the full force of the federal goverment to bear, including the technical assistance and expertise of the Army Corps of Engineers, along with pumps, generators and debris removal assistance to restore power. 

Mangano was joined by Israel, Murray, Rep. Peter King, R-Seaford, state Sen. Dean Skelos, R-Rockville Centre, and Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto.

“LIPA’s performance following Hurricane Sandy has been completely abysmal," King said. "It has been nearly two weeks since the storm; the LIPA-led status quo has clearly failed the residents of Long Island who remain in the dark and in the cold. 

"Congressman Israel and I are calling on President Obama to ensure that Federal agencies do everything possible to dramatically improve the pace of power restoration as well as the flow of information to customers who deserve to have their normal lives restored.”

28 November 09, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Not an ounce of leadership in that photo. Stop pointing fingers and get this organized and fixed!!! Stop waiting for someone else to do it.
Archy Bunka November 10, 2012 at 12:00 AM
When, oh when, will the debris that has sat on the West End for 11 days get picked up?
mildred petrassi November 10, 2012 at 07:59 AM
gentlemen stop taking picturers; I'm tired of looking at all of you. 750 Lido Blvd is still dark; inspectors came; said transformers were damaged; and left; did not leave a return date. Worry about who's taking over AFTER YOU TURN ON ELECTRIC. GOV C...MAKE YOUR FATHER PROUD AND DO SOMETHING. YOUR DAD WOULD HAVE HAD THE POWER ON A WEEK AGO......
28 November 10, 2012 at 09:54 AM
Why is the debris collected in Long Beach going to be warehoused at Knickerson Beach? The fence between Knickerson and 750 Lido is down and has not had any attention or inspection. There are sink holes and debris everywhere. Why not warehouse the debris at Malibu lot where there are no residential neighbors? This is going to create a huge health problem, odor, vermin and generally dangerous condition. Considering there has not been any police presence in or on Lido Blvd we are asking for trouble. yet another poor decision made by our incompetent political team!! When will it end!!!!!
David Prophet November 10, 2012 at 04:14 PM
A trained monkey could do a better job than the management of LIPA. I met a LIPA worker the other day who was literally in tears when I asked him nicely about the south side of Oceanside, He told me that LIPA had no plan at all on how to systematically restore power. He said his supervisors contacted him 10-15 times per day telling him to stop working where he was and go elsewhere. "Nothing can get done that way because you can't finish anything". His words, not mine.
bubba November 10, 2012 at 09:09 PM
When was the last time the federal gov took over anything and made it better? The answer is never. It took 11 days for my town to get electric back and this was only after trucks from Canada and other states showed up. They should learn from these companies how to get things done
David Prophet November 10, 2012 at 09:40 PM
I agree Bubba. Government couldn't even manage to investigate LIPA/National Grid after it's hurricane Irene failures. They were all out there in front of the camera calling for investigations and changes but was anything ever done? Nope. If government can't even manage that, how can it take over anything?
Miles Rose November 11, 2012 at 07:32 AM
You know we all lived so we get to complain. We are all human being and we make mistakes. Don't tell me those with a profit motive ie business do better then government. Social security benefits have gone up in the last twenty years yet consumer income ie your salaries has been flat. Global warming or whatever most large entities react after te damage has been done. Can LB be made hurricaine proof, yes, the question is can we afford it?
lbpatriot November 11, 2012 at 07:38 AM
It's not the workers it's the organizations. The guys you see up on poles from LIPA go to other communities to restore power and do a great job.
David Prophet November 11, 2012 at 07:56 AM
What I'll say Miles is that government appoints the primary leadership of LIPA and is tasked with monitoring LIPA. If they cannot monitor, they cannot manage. Some things just aren't as complicated as we'd like them to be. We spend too much time and energy (no pun intended) trying to find complex answers to what are essentially very simple problems. The simple problem in this case is that people failed to do their jobs. Specifically, LIPA's management and the government officials elected to oversee LIPA. The answer isn't really a natter of complexity and is in fact very simple. Find people who can do the job properly.
David Prophet November 11, 2012 at 08:06 AM
LB, I agree 100%. See my above post about the linesman that I met. That guy is someone who should be managing at LIPA. He knows the job. He has compassion. He cares. Sadly, his management does not.

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