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Pols: Feds Should Take Over LIPA

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

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.”

bob young November 11, 2012 at 04:15 AM
Cuomo is responsible since he appoints the LIPA ceo and LIPA answers to him. Cuomo is at fault
bob young November 11, 2012 at 04:15 AM
There are no stockholders. There are only ratepayers that pay the highest rates in the country. LIPA is a state agency answerable to the governor, but of course cuomo claims he is innocent and is blaming LIPA which answers to him.
paul November 11, 2012 at 04:34 AM
To Barbara: Why would you want another countries help.....???? Yikes... This is just a regional issue....
phil November 11, 2012 at 04:35 AM
Like bob said, LIPA has no shareholders. That's the problem. It's a government operation. Your company, con ed, does have shareholders to answer to. That's probably why it's run better.
paul November 11, 2012 at 04:37 AM
To Amy: You stated "Also a second utility company should be established and give LIPA a run for their money!! Like cable..give people a choice.." Yikes no.. That is what ruined the telephone company.....
paul November 11, 2012 at 04:39 AM
I too am still without power, but pointing fingers at LIPA is not the answer. LIPA is doing everything humanly possible to restore power. The devastation was vast. LIPA in fact did plan ahead. Once LIPA's work is complete you will see that not only did they do well, but as with any tragic circumstance we always learn from what has happened. Most if not all of the comments against LIPA are more out of frustration rather that of common sense about the issue. I am just making up numbers as an example: If LIPA stated the below: Prior to the storm they have X number of employees ready to perform 12 - 16 hour shifts until power is restored. And they have retained an additional 3000 workers from out of state... On hand we usually have X number of poles and just received an additional 10,000 poles at the ready. We always have on hand X number of feet of wire but ordered and received an additional 500,000 feet on hand.... My list can go on and on..... The politicians are venting just like you all are.........
paul November 11, 2012 at 04:44 AM
To Elle917: "A fed takeover of LIPA may just work." Oh my BIG mistake. More government... Are you off your rocker....???? Just saying ;o)
NatetheGrate November 11, 2012 at 05:52 AM
This is not that difficult to reason out -- LIPA is incompetent and should be disbanded or its personnel replaced, or both. Would you prefer to wait until the next big storm to watch the agency fail again? This isn't baseball -- two strikes is more than enough!
jonathan winant November 11, 2012 at 10:53 AM
Paul pull your head out of the sand. only part of LIPA working hard are those in the field! Inncorrect or innaccurate information about outages and restorations has had a great effect on other companies doing repairs and clean ups. Cablevision was at the mercy of LIPA and could not start their repairs before electricity was turned on or areas were safe to work in. Read Newsdays Friday story about antiquated LIPA. Rate hikes, where did that money go?
bob gee November 11, 2012 at 03:40 PM
well put frank, the politicians got us into this mess and now there pointing fingers at everyone else
ArtyMarty November 12, 2012 at 01:33 AM
We are still paying for Shoreham. LILCO wrote it off but LIPA assumed the debt. The LILCO stockholders should have been stuck with it.
Archie Bunker November 12, 2012 at 02:26 AM
Doing it LIPA Style ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jx9AnFmuUo
Richard Sussman November 12, 2012 at 01:00 PM
The less government involved the better. Now that LIPA has done a terrible job who do you think will pay for it? It's owned by the state so that means the taxpayers. If it was private it would be the stockholders and management not getting their bonuses or getting fired. It was a mistake turning LILCO to LIPA, let's not make the mistake again.
Frank November 12, 2012 at 03:19 PM
@ Kathy. When you have a registered Dietitian as a LIPA Board trustee (appointed by Skelos) what would you expect?
Frank November 12, 2012 at 03:21 PM
@ Arguendo. It wasn't just Pataki. It was Spitzer, Patterson, Sheldon Silver, Dean Skelos... etc. The whole Albany contingent did this to Long Island! Further proof that Albany hates Long Island
Frank November 12, 2012 at 03:23 PM
@ Nassau. ABSOLUTELY. LIPA board is the best illustration of Patronage at its worst. A Dietitian? LMFAO
bob young November 12, 2012 at 03:54 PM
If a registered dietician is a LIPA board member I would expect the board members to be eating healthy at their board meetings
Frank November 12, 2012 at 10:33 PM
@ Elle917. The LIPA Board of Trustees are just as culpable. they were responsible for overseeing LIPA Operations. The petition should hold NYS accountable as Dean Skelos, Govs' Cuomo, Spitzer, Pataki, Patterson, Sheldon Silver appointed the LIPA board of trustess. And NOT A SINGLE ONE qualified to do the job. They have a dietitian (aka Suzette Smookler) on the board for Pete's sake? How does nutrition translate to the generation, transmission, and distribution of electrical power? Everybody is missing the boat here. PATRONAGE caused the problems at LIPA. SInce 1995 NYS has been appointing people to the LIPA Board of Trustees with apparently no real qualifications relevant to power. Yes, Long Islanders deserve better.. better accountability of its electorate who made this mess in the first place. And please no FED takeover. Big Government got us into this mess. Open Long Island to free competition. That is the only way for a better outcome
Frank November 12, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Bigger mistake was creating the law that allowed State Lawmakers to appoint LIPA board members. Legal Patronage!
jonathan winant November 12, 2012 at 10:43 PM
Lets concede that every other utility did a far better job then LIPA. This includes those working in other states and those from other states who graciously came here. I am glad to report that for Port Washington FEMA is on the ground and runnig. Next what looks like the National Guard was spotted on Main Street this past Sunday. There was also considerably more out of state crews then LIPA Crews (thank god) as reported all over Long Island is that the out of state crews did a far better job and listened to the resuidents who could better map out outages and restored areas. By the way this did not take a rocket scientist to do and no cheap higliter pens and outdated maps. Just the fact that LIPA is running a COBOL operating system on their computers should prove they screwwed up and should go through a federal investigation before congress or Senate and pay the price monetarilly.
Frank November 12, 2012 at 10:53 PM
COBOL: Completly Outdated, Badly Overused Language The people that screwed up were the NYS lawmakers who appointed no-nothing LIPA trustees to run a major utility. A dietitian? I cannot get over it? I wish I was a recipient of high-paying patronage. What does it take NYS to get appointed to LIPA Board? $50,000 donation to Democratic or Republican party? Free nutrition advice? Free CPA services? What a joke!
jonathan winant November 12, 2012 at 11:34 PM
Frank: Have a house senate investigation. Fine top LIPA executives and demand the return of the high raises. Look at where the excessive rate hikes went then fine the executives for miss managing the money. Jail sentence, repaying raises. Top LIPA exwecutives should be held 100% accuntable for what there neglect did to LONG Islanders after both Sandy and the Snow Storm which followed. WE suffered while they rolled in the money. Why wasn't any LIPA executives present in the hardest hit areas of Long Island and the Rockaways? maybe they knew they would be stoned or lynched. I seriously beieve that had they shown up all hell would have broken lose along with pure chaos.
bob young November 13, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Cuomo is ultimately in charge of LIPA
bob young November 13, 2012 at 12:45 AM
COBOL is a programming language not an operating system, and the governor is in charge of LIPA. The governor makes the appointments of the board and the CEO. Cuomo needs to go
Frank November 13, 2012 at 04:29 PM
@ Jonathan. Please, the Senate Majority Leader appointed two of the current Board members. They are not going to implicate themselves. The 1st thing that needs to be done is to hold a referendum to dissolve that 1995 ruling that allows the State to appoint LIPA Board Members. It's pure patronage plain and simple and this vehicle should not exist. Once the state is removed, the people of LI should push for the deregulation of the power market on Long Island. And if the state cries "what about the shoreham debt"? Well, shove it where the sun don't shine! It wasn't the decision of LIers to build shoreham. It was LILCO President John J. Tuohy who made that decision in 1965. Why? The federal government aka the Atomic Energy Commission was DEMANDING all power companies to use nuclear power. Governors Nelson Rockefeller, Malcolm Wilson, and Hugh Carey could've stopped the deal before LILCO broker ground... but they didn't. And here is the end result of sapping LIers to pay for crap debt instead of upgraded infrastructure. A beatdown by "Sandy", exposing the glaring evidence that LI has been pilfered to the point of unsustainability. LIers were victims of NYS mismanagement then as they are today. Albany hates LIers with a passion that spans decades.
Jeannette Donovan November 13, 2012 at 05:58 PM
The people who came all the way from Chicago, Canada, Florida, Joplin MO, California, etc. really cared about us. They were incredibly polite while being professional. The LIPA workers were threatened while working so hard. They aren't responsible for their lazy, incompetent management. Senior management & middle management should all loose their jobs - the repair crews have had to deal with the public's frustration long enough.
Jeannette Donovan November 13, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Do you know that LIPA management (who can't manage anything) first denied giving a hard time about being Non Union to those wonderful men & women volunteers from other states & Canada? Thank GOD that someone recorded management calling them "SCABS" - let's see them try to con their way out of this one.
Kathy Todd November 15, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Demand a credit for service not offered. Contact the NYS Public Service Commission and file a complaint online which you can do now because you have power! http://www3.dps.ny.gov/W/PSCWeb.nsf/All/B40C096675BE10C085257687006F39E7?OpenDocument
Kathy Todd November 15, 2012 at 10:01 PM
In a two-page Oct. 29 contract, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) local 1049 demanded union dues, pay hikes and benefit contributions from Florida electric utilities before its workers would be permitted to help reconnect power to Long Island communities. The demand came as Hurricane Sandy was bearing down on the Northeastern United States, stranding tens of millions without electricity. To view this remarkable letter sent by the LIPA/National Grid Union Office click on this link; http://dailycaller.com/2012/11/03/amid-sandys-devastation-long-island-union-sent-written-demand-to-florida-utilities-pay-dues-or-stay-home/?print=1
Kathy Todd November 15, 2012 at 10:03 PM
4. Delivery and System Charges: The cost to bring electricity to your home. Those poles and wires along the roadway near your home are supplying power 24/7 to run the refrigerator and the cable box. LIPA’s operating costs are reflected here. Your Basic Service Charge is a fixed daily charge for connection to the electric system.

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