Never Again: Montesano Calls For Criminal Investigation Of LIPA

Assemblyman Wants Fines, Reimbursement, Legislative Action in Wake of Disaster
September 6, 2011

Assemblyman Michael A. Montesano (R,I,C-Glen Head) is calling on the state attorney general’s office to begin a criminal investigation of the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) in the wake of the utility’s impotent response to Hurricane Irene. With a reported 4,000 homes still without power as of September 3, LIPA’s dramatic failure to provide Long Islanders with prompt and efficient service has led Assemblyman Montesano to call for swift and severe action against it.

“More than a week after Hurricane Irene hit Long Island, over 4,000 families are still without power. That is not simply unacceptable – it’s negligence,” said Montesano. “Enough is enough. As Long Islanders, we have given LIPA plenty of time to restore power and they have shown that they are more concerned about their own jobs than the lives of our friends and neighbors. This Tammany-style leadership demonstrates a lack of regard for their customers and exposes the selfishness of LIPA’s executive board. This is not an indictment of LIPA workers but rather the so-called leadership of the company, which has failed so manifestly and completely in its duties to this region.

“For disabled and homebound critical-care customers, power restoration is a matter of life and death; LIPA did not take the necessary steps to ensure that they would be safe. These people do not always have the means to relocate, and without power, they cannot get around their homes. I have sent a letter to the attorney general calling on his office to begin a criminal investigation of the Long Island Power Authority. They have endangered thousands with their behavior, and New Yorkers are sick and tired of excuses.

“Not only does the attorney general need to begin a criminal investigation, but there must be fines paid by LIPA’s executive board, reimbursement to those Long Islanders who had to relocate and incur costs due to LIPA’s negligence, and an immediate convening by the members of my Assembly Committee on Oversight, Analysis and Investigation to commence hearings and hold LIPA’s leadership accountable,” said Montesano. “LIPA was given help by outside power agencies and employees, but due to an absence of communication and organization they stalled the process of power restoration. Long Islanders are still in the dark while nearly 100 percent of the rest of the Empire State has recovered electricity. LIPA is lagging behind and needs to be held responsible for this utter disregard for human life and safety.”

Montesano is calling on the Long Island Assembly delegation to stand together and consider a number of options for reforming LIPA, including incorporating the utility into the New York Power Authority and strengthening administrative oversight. “I strongly urge the attorney general’s office as well as Governor Cuomo to take immediate action. It is time to let LIPA know that their dereliction has threatened the lives of hard-working Long Islanders and slowed recovery to a crawl. Maybe the lights are on at the Long Island Power Authority, but clearly nobody’s been home for some time.”