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LIPA weighs new rules governing comments by its trustees

The Long Island Power Authority is again considering a policy to guide and perhaps limit public speech by its board members after previous attempts were harshly criticized and ultimately dropped.

Among the new rules up for consideration at a future board meeting, LIPA trustees would be “encouraged” to notify new LIPA chief Tom Falcone or spokesman Sid Nathan of any media calls they receive, and to defer to LIPA staff on inquiries “in matters of fact,” according to sources.

And while board members could express opinions, trustees should “refrain from publicly espousing a position” on board matters without having a “full and complete record” to make a “reasonably informed decision.” It’s unclear how LIPA would punish offenders.

One lawmaker whose office has reviewed the policy said he objects to the measures. Assemb. Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) said, “The last thing we want is for trustees to feel intimidated and for trustees to turn into a rubber stamp. That’s not in the public’s interest.”

One board member who supports the new rules said, “None of us think board members should be stifled in speaking our minds or speaking to the press.” But, he said, “There are certain lines that we shouldn’t be crossing,” including being inaccurate or breaching “our fiduciary responsibility.”


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