Thomas DiNapoli expediting Sandy contracts

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The dozens of contracts that State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is expediting in the wake of superstorm Sandy include urgent requests to fund everything from road repair and beach restoration -- and a $1 million advertising agreement for the Long Island Power Authority.

A State Comptroller website listing "Emergency Contracts and Purchases Expedited" from Sandy reports LIPA requested the $1 million contract for Young & Rubicam, the Manhattan firm, for "advertising and communications services."

LIPA spokesman Mark Gross noted that the authority's board approved the up to five-year contract last May after a competitive bid, but the storm expedited the need for the firm's services.

"We had not yet received approval [from the comptroller] when the storm hit and so on October 31st, we did request the contract review and approval be expedited in order to help us communicate very specific information to our customers via newspaper and print ads during Sandy," he wrote.

He added, "While we do not know the comptroller's reasoning for including the Young & Rubicam contract on the list, it is definitely not an emergency contract or a contract specifically related to Sandy."

Kate Gurnett, a spokeswoman for the comptroller, said the classification was due to LIPA's request.

"We put it on the website because LIPA asked us to expedite our approval of this contract due to their communication needs related to Hurricane Sandy," Gurnett said.

Whatever the reason, at least one LIPA ratepayer was baffled by it.

"It makes no sense to me whatsoever," said Alicia Walsh of Levittown, where power was out to some 880 residents Wednesday afternoon. She said she has lost power from four to six times a month for varying amounts of time since Sandy, when power was out for two days.

With power out in her Levittown home Wednesday, ratepayer Alicia Walsh, called the $1 million contract "absolutely bizarre to me." Her house was without power for two days during Sandy.

"We're not living in" an impoverished country, she said from her darkened home at dinner time, trying to understand why. "I don't know what the answer is [but] I don't think the answer is advertising."

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