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Nassau's village mayors blast LIPA

Fed-up mayors of nearly two dozen darkened Nassau County villages are claiming that LIPA is giving them more lip service than results in the days after Sandy.

In a draft letter sent to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday, Lawrence Mayor Martin Oliner, joined by about 10 other village mayors, blasted LIPA's response to the post-Sandy power outages and called for the governor to intervene.

"LIPA's inefficiency, dysfunctional manner, and especially its lack of candor, continue to compromise our health and safety, and cannot be tolerated any further," the letter reads. "They have the means, but for reasons we do not know, they are just not doing their job."

Village officials and Nassau County Legis. Judi Bosworth and Wayne Wink plan to hold a news conference Thursday to pressure LIPA to send a "full complement of LIPA tree trimmers and linemen" to the Great Neck, Manhasset and Port Washington areas.

LIPA and the governor's office did not immediately return calls for comment Wednesday.

East Hills Mayor Michael Koblenz, who said he signed the letter, said his area appeared to be getting little to no service from LIPA, even as downed wires draped the village and 90 percent remained without power.

"We've had live wires burning and nobody showed up for four days," Koblenz said. "This is not tolerable in this century."

North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman referenced the frustration in his automated telephone message to residents Wednesday, saying that the town will continue to "confront, challenge and demand that our utility do what is necessary to get this job done quickly and correctly."

And on Monday, the Great Neck Village Officials Association -- made up of nine villages on the Great Neck peninsula -- penned a letter to LIPA questioning its response to the outages and calling for improved information from the utility.

"Nothing's happening," said Susan Lopatkin, mayor of Kensington and president of the association. "We have one crew here, one crew there. It's a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of devastation."

So far, Lopatkin said, she has not received a response. Meanwhile, she said more than 250 homes in her tiny 320-home village remained without power Wednesday.

"I really don't want to be pointing fingers," she said. "All I want is to communicate. We desperately need more workers to do the job."


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