Sparring over LIPA board's 'legitimacy'

LIPA chairman Howard Steinberg and Chief Operating Officer LIPA chairman Howard Steinberg and Chief Operating Officer Michael Hervey speak during the LIPA vote regarding a contract to continue using National Grid power plants. (Oct. 2, 2012) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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Long Island Power Authority chairman Howard Steinberg last week offered a spirited defense of the "legitimacy" of the LIPA board in the wake of recent lawsuits calling for elected trustees.

Steinberg, who has served on the LIPA board since Gov. George Pataki appointed him in 1999, pointed to the state law that says trustees are to be appointed by the governor, the speaker of the Assembly and the Senate majority leader.

"There are some people out there who think this board is supposed to be elected," he said Thursday at a trustees meeting. "The problem is they forgot to read the law, which specifies that the trustees are appointed."

Gregory Fischer, a LIPA critic who has filed lawsuits in state and federal court seeking to force LIPA to hold trustee elections, acknowledged the LIPA statute.

But Fischer, a Calverton resident who has run unsuccessfully for State Senate, called the law "illegal," adding, "It should be repealed."

Steinberg also objected to Fischer's claim that trustees whose terms have expired should not be serving. Four trustees, including Steinberg, are serving despite their terms having expired.

"There are also a few people who don't understand that our bylaws, and the laws of New York, are crystal clear, that trustees whose terms expire continue to serve in good standing until they are replaced or resign," Steinberg said. "Any noise that this board is not duly constituted is simply nonsense."

Fischer called Steinberg "a fake chairperson. His term is expired and he has no authority to sit on that board."

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