Lawsuit seeks election for LIPA trustees

A new survey shows LIPA ratepayers are among A new survey shows LIPA ratepayers are among the least satisfied customers. Photo Credit: Ed Betz, 2011

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A new lawsuit in State Supreme Court seeks to force state and local elections officials to conduct a vote to elect the trustees of the Long Island Power Authority, who now are appointed.

The suit was filed Wednesday by Gregory Fischer, of Calverton, who has run unsuccessfully for State Senate and Riverhead Town supervisor; Roger S. Lewis, of Southampton; and Bill Jurow, of Mastic Beach.

Lewis and Jurow submitted petitions this month with the Nassau, Suffolk and state boards of elections to run as Democratic candidates for the 15-member LIPA board.

None of the Nassau or Suffolk elections commissioners have acted on the petitions, which contained only one signature each.

The plaintiffs say only one signature was needed because state elections law does not list the number of signatures needed for a party's trustee candidate.

Thomas Connolly, a spokesman for the state elections board, said no action was taken at the state level either because the job of LIPA trustee "has not been an elected position since 1995."

The lawsuit has been referred to the attorney general, Connolly said.

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An order signed by State Supreme Court Justice Paul Baisley requires the agencies to respond in court Aug. 1.

LIPA officials had no immediate comment.

While the original legislation creating LIPA included a provision for an elected board, state lawmakers put off elections and in 1995 changed the law to make the board an appointed body. Nine members are named by the governor, and three each by the State Senate and Assembly leaders.

However, provisions in the state election law referring to the trustee positions never were changed. The plaintiffs say they are being disenfranchised because no elections have ever been held.

"The people subject to the rates of the Long Island Power Authority are disenfranchised, and tariffed unfairly and excessively and they are impatient for the justice and representation that is due to them," they say in court papers."It makes things interesting,." said William Biamonte, Nassau's Democratic elections commissioner. "If a judge orders us, we'll put it on the ballot."

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