In his writings, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. identified two types of just and unjust laws. Some laws are inherently unjust, such as the laws that supported segregation at the time, and other laws, while not unjust in themselves, are applied unjustly. King offered the example of a local ordinance requiring parade permits used as a means to block civil rights marches as an example of this second type of unjust law.
I thought about this distinction when I read about the Town of Oyster Bay seeking an injunction to prevent the former Hampton Inn from being converted to a temporary shelter for homeless families on the grounds that it violates town zoning laws [“Judge halts work at Jericho Hotel,” News, Aug. 9]. At a time when unemployment and homelessness are reaching levels last seen during the Great Depression, is this move to block 80 families from finding decent shelter really about preserving the sanctity of zoning laws? How different would this situation look if instead of viewing these families as a danger to our quality of life we looked at this situation as an opportunity to share our wealth with the less fortunate?
Shame on the 2,000 parents who signed the petition opposing the conversion of the Jericho hotel into transitional housing for homeless families in great need [“Judge halts work at Jericho Hotel,” News, Aug. 9]. Must the innocent children suffer for your unwarranted prejudices? (And there will be no cost to the Jericho school district.)
Making these families’ lives better and easier is beneficial to all of us; our futures depend on well-educated children. Let’s ensure we do the best we can for all children. Noblesse oblige.
Who’s at fault for Isaias loss of power?
Don’t blame PSEG Long Island for all the outages. PSEG didn’t leave a 70-foot oak tree planted between the curb and sidewalk that fell on wires across the street. PSEG isn’t responsible for the hollowed trees standing next to nearby power wires. PSEG isn’t responsible for all the overgrown trees that fell on wires. So who is responsible? Start with the homeowners who let these trees grow untrimmed on their property. Then there are the town and village ordinances protecting trees. Oyster Bay and Muttontown are just two examples. Too many huge trees are close to wires and houses with no requirement to prune them. Folks who want to live among huge trees need to understand that windstorms are nature’s way of managing forests. As long as trees are allowed to grow unfettered near wires, there will be extensive power outages every time there is a big storm. As comic strip character Pogo said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” It’s not totally PSEG’s fault they did let these trees grow huge. PSEG is just charged with cleaning the mess. It’s time local governments developed sound management practices to prevent trees from taking down wires in the next storm.
Our local legislators’ efforts to press PSEG Long Island to reimburse for the cost of spoiled food and ruined medication during the outage is appropriate and appreciated. They should consider adding the cost of fuel for our generators to that list. Standby and portable generators dot our landscape as part of residents’ and businesses’ proactive efforts to prepare for the inevitable loss of utility company power. My generator ran for three days nonstop at a fuel cost of several hundred dollars. We shouldn’t have to pay for doing the utility company’s job.
Cold Spring Harbor
Regarding the past week’s letter writers who praised PSEG Long Island for their work restoring power, I lost power after a healthy 50-foot tree fell across my yard and wires [“LIers respond to storm response,” Aug. 11]. The power outage was reported immediately. One week later, my power was finally restored along with eight other area homes. Everyone else got their power back the next day. Every day, we were told “tomorrow.” We later learned that the crew repairing our area reported that every home had been restored. Two days later, we were told this and added at the bottom of the repair list. I do not fault the work crews — they work hard — but when I have to leave my home and stay in a hotel because the heat is unbearable, that is unacceptable. For all the rates we pay and taxes we pay, we as consumers should not be lied to.
Amid all the incompetence of the power companies during this tropical storm, leaving people without electricity for extended periods of time and having no way to communicate with them, I just wanted to thank the out-of-state companies that shared with us their linemen, trucks, equipment and know-how. If not for the folks from out of state, we’d still be in the dark [“PSEG: Thousands still lacking power,” News, Aug. 10]. Thank you for leaving your homes and your families to help us. As someone without power for six days, I can’t express enough appreciation for your hard work! Thank you, too, for being polite, professional and friendly when we approached you to ask about restoration times. You gave us more information on the street than we got from the corporate offices.
PSEG spent millions of dollars of ratepayer money on “storm hardening” and new technologies [“25,000 on LI still in the dark over 1 week later,” News, Aug 12]. While both were critically important projects, what is missing from the conversation now is the total failure of the project management function within the company and its contractors. As Verizon may have unwittingly revealed, its Wi-Fi capability supporting smart meters and other network notification services saw numerous failures. Why? As they put it, “We need power to run the transmitters.” This is called a single point of failure, and basing the need for real-time data gathering on a flawed design is poor engineering on everyone’s part. How can you not factor in a loss of power to critical systems during a power outage? If the consumer applications were not communicating, the customer service people never had a chance and one must assume field operations were impacted as well. And this was a fast-moving tropical storm with minimal rain. Imagine if it was a slow-moving Category 1 hurricane with 10 inches of rainfall? We deserve better.
Amid all the deserved criticism of PSEG Long Island’s response to the tropical storm, we should distinguish management and system failures from the work that needs to be done in the field, with long hours and sometimes difficult conditions. Those with the hard hats and yellow vests deserve many thanks. So do those who manned the phones and gamely tried to cope with thousands of calls.
PSEG Long Island is great at offering rebates and incentives for buying energy-efficient air conditioners. Well, I think it is high time it offers rebates to purchase generators. It appears everybody on Long Island must have one. And while PSEG is at it, it should also offer a cheaper path to hook up to gas that is already on a street but a few houses away. Its hookup fees are way too high.