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From The Desk Of NY State Senator Jack Martins: November 26, 2012

The Truth About LIPA

LIPA failed us miserably – from pre-storm preparations right through communicating when power would be restored after the storm.  No arguments.  

Naturally, as public servants, our job is to take public authorities like LIPA to task and take a good, hard look at why it failed us after Superstorm Sandy.  But I participated in this dog and pony show last year after Hurricane Irene and frankly, it accomplished very little except some convenient transfer of blame and lots of finger-pointing. One positive:  it’s given me a few months to better see the bigger picture and zero in on where the real problems lie. 

Of course, pick up any paper and the theories are endless: LIPA hasn’t had a permanent chief executive in two years; five spots on their board are still vacant; the trustees discussed the hurricane for only 39 seconds; they didn’t trim enough trees prior to the storm; their service maps are outdated; their wiring is antiquated; they never installed a monitoring system; their communication with customers stinks.  All real issues that need to be addressed, but they’ve existed for years and remain unresolved.   

So now heads will supposedly roll and an overhaul is in the works. It’s déjà-vu.  LIPA was created in the 1980s by former Governor Mario Cuomo in response to the Long Island Lighting Company’s inability to handle outages after Hurricane Gloria and the aftermath of the shuttered Shoreham Plant.  

Let me be the first to tell you the ugly truth: you can swap out every executive at LIPA and name it whatever you want and when the dust settles, nothing will have been achieved if we don’t address the underlying structural issues at LIPA. Of course, some cursory procedural progress is possible but the real problem is LIPA’s ailing infrastructure and more importantly, that, given our already highest in the nation utility costs, we can’t afford to fix it.  The legacy costs LIPA has carried have merely kicked the can down the road – the billions borrowed still have to be paid and that has to be factored into any future LIPA reincarnation.  

Central to any fix is the fact that LIPA is in debt for an incredible $7 billion dollars and has been for more than 14 years because of losses absorbed when the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant was closed.  Consequently, there is virtually no money to invest in much-needed infrastructure upgrades as much of it goes to debt service.  For those following national politics, this is a perfect example of what happens when debt gets out of control.  We all wish the Shoreham debacle had never happened, but we must live with its consequences, unintended as they are.  For you and me, that means the aftermath of a storm that decimates an overly fragile electric system.

Any legitimate plan to address LIPA’s problems has to start with this reality or else we’re just spinning our wheels.  Thankfully this past year, Governor Cuomo had already floated the idea of an “electricity superhighway” that would deliver cheaper electricity to our region.  With those realized savings, LIPA could then begin investing in infrastructure improvements without disturbing its debt reduction effort. 

This storm and its aftermath taught us that our electric infrastructure is overly fragile.  I know we pay some of the highest electricity rates in the nation and while it would be nice to reduce those, we must invest in hardening our infrastructure against the next Sandy or Irene. 

We also have to take an honest look at alternate sources that may produce cheaper energy.  Long Island is already home to New York’s largest solar farm and there’s been much debate over wind farms off our shores.  As controversial as these issues are, where they’re located and what initial investment might cost, the discussions must be had and decisions have to be made.   

We know what has to be done to better LIPA and the technology is already available.  The question is does Long Island, and New York State, have the wherewithal to hunker down and find a way to pay for it.  No matter who is given the reins at LIPA, their challenge is to convey this predicament to the public, present a feasible plan, and finally to marshal support for the solution. Anything else is just a band-aid.

News

The Mineola School Board will hold a public hearing on the much-debated New York State veterans exemption on Thursday, Nov. 6 at 6:30 p.m. in the Willis Avenue School. It is expected the board will either approve or disapprove the tax exemption during its regular meeting at 7 p.m.

When votes go to the polls next week on Tuesday, Nov. 4 to vote on the Town of North Hempstead’s 2nd Council District seat, candidate Bonnie Parente feels her stance on the building department is what voters will remember when casting their choice. The 2nd council district post is currently held by Peter Zuckerman, a former East Hills trustee. He was appointed to the seat in January to replace Thomas Dwyer, who resigned last year.

 

“That’s the major issue I heard about when I knocked on doors,” she said. “No matter where I am, I could be at the Herricks Community Center or the Albertson Pasta Dinner and

predominately what people ask about is how to fix the building department.”


Sports

Samantha Pastore

Samantha Pastore, senior and third-year varsity player, is also co-captain of the currently undefeated (11-0) Mineola Girls Varsity Volleyball team. She is an outside hitter and is often recognized in games by starting rallies with her quick thinking and nimble feet. She earns 20 percent of the team’s points and averages four aces per match.

The Mineola Mustangs varsity football team fell to the Seaford Vikings last week 27-21, missing their chance to tie the top seeds Locust Valley and Roosevelt’s 6-1 Nassau conference IV record.

 

After tying the game in the second half and having the opportunity to capitalize on Seaford’s failed extra-point kick on their final touchdown, the Viking’s senior wide receiver/defensive back Bobby Buell knocked away a pass from Mineola senior quarterback James Gerstner to senior wide receiver Brian Smith in the end-zone with 57 seconds left


Calendar

International Night - October 30

Halloween Parade - October 31

Cultural Arts Series - November 1 


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
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Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com