Letter: Sandy cleanup was above board

Trucks with the Looks Great Services logo parked

Trucks with the Looks Great Services logo parked in a lot in Huntington. (April 1, 2013) Photo Credit: Ed Betz

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My company, Looks Great Services, has been the subject of a number of recent news stories focusing on allegations from unnamed sources regarding work we performed for Nassau County after superstorm Sandy ["Mangano urged to return donations," News, May 16].

Looks Great Services is the largest independent disaster recovery firm on Long Island. Since 2001, we have worked in about a dozen states, including on recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina and Tropical Storm Irene.

We are one of the only companies on Long Island with the expertise and specialized equipment to perform major disaster recovery, and we were selected to conduct disaster recovery efforts because we provided the best pricing, and the equipment and personnel necessary to do the job.

Yet, anonymous sources cited liberally by Newsday insinuate we received our contract with Nassau because of political contributions to county and municipal campaigns -- despite the fact that we were awarded the original contract after a competitive-bid process, and before many of the contributions in question were made.

Anonymous sources also claim that Looks Great Services is being investigated for not paying workers a "prevailing wage." This term, used by unions, means wages above market rate. Looks Great Services was instructed by the New York State Department of Labor that our disaster recovery agreement with Nassau County was not a prevailing-wage contract. That's why our pricing was competitive relative to our peers; we paid wages that the market would bear. We saved the taxpayers money.

Finally, multiple sources have claimed that Looks Great Services indiscriminately chopped down viable trees for profit, despite the fact that Looks Great Services had no discretion over which trees stayed and which were removed. County inspectors who supervised our crews designated trees for removal, and these inspectors used an electronic tracking system to record the process from start to finish. They alone were empowered to make these decisions.

In the weeks following Sandy, members of Operating Engineers Local 138 tried to stop our crews, at a time when we were working around the clock to clear roadways for first responders. The only parties who have a problem with Looks Great Services are the unions and their political allies. Our actual clients have never complained about our work.

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Some of the county legislators who have impugned our reputation have received many thousands of dollars in union campaign contributions. They don't have the public interest in mind. They want to put companies like mine out of business, reward their benefactors, and force taxpayers to shoulder more expensive bills the next time a natural disaster hits our area.

Though the facts are very much on our side, Looks Great Services has had to shadow box with politically motivated, unnamed sources. The minute one of our anonymous critics is willing to go on the record, I would be happy to sit down -- on the record -- with that person and a Newsday reporter.

Until then, we hope that our friends and neighbors will give the benefit of the doubt to a local firm that responded quickly, did the job well, and charged a lot less than others would have.

Kristian Agoglia, Huntington

Editor's note: The writer is the president of Looks Great Services.

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