Power lines along Ruland Road in Melville on Feb. 13, 2020.

Power lines along Ruland Road in Melville on Feb. 13, 2020. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

The exodus of top management at LIPA continued this week with the resignation of the authority’s recently named chief financial officer, Dennis Anosike, and the planned retirement of budget director Gerry Ring, the utility confirmed Thursday.

Those top officials join a list that includes LIPA’s chief executive officer, Tom Falcone, its chief operating officer and chief information officer, Mujib Lodhi, and its human resources director, Barbara Dillon, who announced her planned retirement.

All have resigned after Gov. Kathy Hochul’s appointment of four board members in November and subsequent changes at the utility, which one former board member at a trustee meeting said marked a tone that was “contrary to LIPA values” and would likely contribute to further staff departures.

Falcone announced his resignation in early March but left at a board meeting two weeks later when LIPA announced the appointment of an interim chief executive, John Rhodes. Rhodes, a former Public Service Commission chairman, previously served with current LIPA chairwoman Tracey Edwards, a former PSC commissioner.

Anosike, among LIPA's first executives of color, was appointed chief financial officer in January and had planned to move to the region from his former home in Chicago, he said in a brief interview at the March board meeting. He’d been hired under Falcone.

Edwards in a statement said Donna Mongiardo, who currently serves as vice president and controller at LIPA, will take the chief financial officer role on an interim basis, adding, “It is my sincere hope that she will raise her hand for the permanent CFO position.” 

Edwards also said the “new LIPA administration is working diligently to address the concerning issues raised by the independent management audit of the past administration.” Many of the issues raised in that state audit put equal or greater blame on the contractor, PSEG Long Island, Newsday has reported. 

LIPA last month named two former staffers from PSEG, the New Jersey-based contractor that manages the grid under contract, to take on the roles of chief of staff and interim chief information officer in the wake of the executive departures.

The impact of LIPA’s staff departures remains unclear. LIPA is conducting a search for a permanent CEO and other high-level positions. 

LIPA trustee Drew Biondo said the latest string of resignations raise questions.

“Everyone’s running for the doors and the public has to ask, why?” he said.

Legislation that would have facilitated the transition of LIPA to a fully public utility without a large third-party service provider effectively died in the State Legislature earlier this month, after three Assembly members took their names from the bill sponsored by Assemb. Fred Thiele (D-Sag Harbor), and a Senate version was never formally introduced. Newsday inquiries to the office of Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) were not returned.

The Long Island Association was among the most vocal opponents, along with PSEG, of the push to make LIPA a fully public utility — a plan that would have terminated PSEG when its contract expired at next year’s end. PSEG, which spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying against the bill, maintains that the current system of a private company operating the publicly owned grid is the best for customers.

The LIA also has a position statement urging LIPA to put out a bid to determine the utility’s worth for a possible sale, a position that has been circulated by former KeySpan and National Grid chief executive Robert Catell, an LIA board member.

LIPA under Rhodes recently issued a request for bids for third-party contractors to run the LIPA grid after PSEG’s contract expires at next year’s end. Bids are due by September, and PSEG is expected to be among the bidders.

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