Fallout over lackluster snow removal on Long Island - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Fallout over lackluster snow removal on Long Island

Posted: Updated:

By FRANK ELTMAN | AP

OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. (AP) — The fallout from a lackluster snow-removal effort after a blizzard dumped 30 inches or more across eastern Long Island widened Thursday, ensnaring both state and town officials in its wake.

The state has suspended two Department of Transportation officials on Long Island, and a highway official in Brookhaven resigned after complaints from residents who waited days to get their neighborhood streets plowed. Meanwhile, Brookhaven Supervisor Edward Romaine apologized to residents for vacationing in Jamaica during the storm but blamed the inadequate response on the departed highway official.

The snowstorm, which struck during rush hour Feb. 8, left hundreds of motorists stranded in their vehicles on the Long Island Expressway and other roads for 12 hours or more as rapidly falling snow inundated unplowed highways. Forecasts had called for as much as 18 inches, but some areas of eastern Long Island were hit with 30 inches or more.

The state DOT suspended two officials on Long Island for 30 days without pay, according to a lawyer for one of the men. A department representative declined to comment, citing it as a personnel matter.

Attorney Howard Rubin, who represents DOT Suffolk regional director, Subimal Chakrobouti, said his client was told about the suspension in an email Saturday, just hours after he joined Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a news conference detailing the state response to the blizzard. Rubin said the 68-year-old Chakrobouti is being made a scapegoat.

"He hasn't been told he did anything wrong," Rubin said. "This is a guy with a spotless record."

Rubin suggested there may have been complaints about state DOT plows clearing roads in Nassau County and western Suffolk County to keep access clear to New York City, but he said any decisions on prioritizing what highways got plowed and when was done in consultation with Chakrobouti's supervisors. He also said some DOT plows were sent to eastern Long Island, but he didn't have specific details.

The second suspended DOT official was identified as a transportation maintenance engineer. A busy signal rang repeatedly at a telephone number listed for his residence.

Suffolk County police announced the closure of the LIE and Sunrise Highway around 9 p.m. last Friday, and state police issued a release saying state parkways in the county were closed at 1 a.m. Saturday.

Cuomo has come under fire from some for not ordering state roads closed before the storm, as several other Northeastern states did. He said Thursday that he had no information about the DOT suspensions.

"That's a DOT personnel matter, so I don't really know the details of exactly what it was about," he said.

The governor demurred when asked about his appraisal of the overall performance of the DOT during the blizzard, repeating his previous contention that drivers who became stranded should take responsibility for their actions.

"When we have issues is when people don't act responsibly, don't act as responsibly as they should," he said. "Now look, sometimes when you act totally responsibly, things happen. When in Hurricane Sandy a tree comes through the roof, there was nothing you could do about that. But, there's going to be a snowstorm, you know you're going to be driving, there's some responsibility and adjustment."

Also Thursday, Brookhaven Supervisor Edward Romaine apologized for the town's response to the blizzard, which struck while he was vacationing in Jamaica. He said he remained in telephone contact with town officials while he was away.

Brookhaven is the largest town in the state at 531 square miles. That's bigger in size than all of neighboring Nassau County.

"Do I feel very badly that I was out of town when this occurred? Absolutely," Romaine said. "And do I offer an apology to the residents of Brookhaven town? Yes. Because there was no one else to make the apology because the guy who was in charge of the highway department resigned."

He also blamed the town's highway department, which he said doesn't answer to him. He said the highway superintendent is an elected position that doesn't answer to the town board. The acting superintendent, Michael Murphy, resigned that post Wednesday. Town officials had said this week that Murphy didn't report for work during the storm because he had a toothache.

  • TrafficMore>>

  • Manhattan fire hydrant earns more money than average American

    Manhattan fire hydrant earns more money than average American

    Thursday, August 21 2014 4:18 PM EDT2014-08-21 20:18:03 GMT
    One Manhattan fire hydrant has turned into a cash cow for the city.It's become a celebrity in revenue generator and it does not ask for sick days, gets no health benefits, and no 401(k). Yet it brings in tens of thousands of dollars for the city each year.The old hydrant is so notorious, it's got a personalized sign.. It sits across from 152 Forsyth St. and is a local legend.In just an eight month period the hydrant has caused drivers to get hundreds of tickets.The issue that catches drivers ...
    One Manhattan fire hydrant has turned into a cash cow for the city.It's become a celebrity in revenue generator and it does not ask for sick days, gets no health benefits, and no 401(k). Yet it brings in tens of thousands of dollars for the city each year.The old hydrant is so notorious, it's got a personalized sign.. It sits across from 152 Forsyth St. and is a local legend.In just an eight month period the hydrant has caused drivers to get hundreds of tickets.The issue that catches drivers ...
  • Palestinian banner unfurled on Manhattan Bridge

    Palestinian banner unfurled on Manhattan Bridge

    Thursday, August 21 2014 8:22 AM EDT2014-08-21 12:22:15 GMT
    Pro-Palestinian activists marching along the Brooklyn Bridge got an eyeful when a giant flag banner in Palestinian colors was unfurled on the nearby Manhattan Bridge. The flag had the words "Boycott, Divest, Sanction" and was lowered from a part of the bridge near the Manhattan side Wednesday evening. Activists on the Brooklyn Bridge met its appearance with cheers.
    Pro-Palestinian activists marching along the Brooklyn Bridge got an eyeful when a giant flag banner in Palestinian colors was unfurled on the nearby Manhattan Bridge. The flag had the words "Boycott, Divest, Sanction" and was lowered from a part of the bridge near the Manhattan side Wednesday evening. Activists on the Brooklyn Bridge met its appearance with cheers.
  • Montclair-Boonton trains face delays

    Montclair-Boonton trains face delays

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 6:20 AM EDT2014-08-20 10:20:21 GMT
    Workers continue making repairs after a New Jersey Transit train derailed on the Montclair-Boonton line.
    Workers continue making repairs after a New Jersey Transit train derailed on the Montclair-Boonton line. NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder says passengers on that line are facing delays of up to 20 minutes in both directions on Wednesday because the railroad can only use one track. The train derailed between the Bay Street and Walnut Street stations in Montclair on Tuesday afternoon. No one was injury and passengers were safely transferred from the train.
Powered by WorldNow

WTXF-TV
330 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106-2796

Phone: (215) 925-2929
Fax: (215) 982-5494

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices