Why Doesn’t Governor Cuomo Release Inspector Generals LIPA Audit?


The Governor is hot on the trail to dismantle LIPA’s existing structure and privatize the utility. However he has dragged his feet on releasing the Inspector General’s report on LIPA’s Billing practices dating back almost 2 years ago…..LIPA has gone through a tremendous amount of criticism of its management over the course of these two years so it would seem logical that the quicker that this report is released the better for the ratepayer. Certainly any guidance to LIPA to minimize additional bad decisions could have been possibly avoided and certainly saved the rate payer grief.

“In April 2011, Cuomo asked the former Inspector General Ellen Biben to investigate the billing practices of the Long  Island Power Authority, an announcement that rated a Red Room news  conference in which Biben promised a “swift and thorough” audit.

Almost two years later, the public hasn’t seen a word of it — even as  LIPA descended into a black hole of mismanagement. According to the same  administration source, the audit isn’t even in the inspector general’s  hands anymore.”

 

Seiler: Wanted: a watchdog for good

As published in timesunion.com

Casey Seiler

Published 10:33 pm, Saturday, February 16, 2013

 

Next week, Ellen Biben marks the end of her first year as the inaugural  executive director of the state Joint  Commission on Public Ethics. Someone buy her a beer, because she no doubt  needs it.

Feb. 28 marks a different sort of professional anniversary for Catherine  Leahy-Scott, who was tapped to serve as New York’s acting inspector general after Biben’s departure from that post.

I have never spoken to Leahy-Scott; if she walked up on the street and  punched me, I would not be able to identify her to police. But observing the  work that emerges from the inspector general’s office, I’ve never had cause to  think she is anything but a dutiful public watchdog.

So why hasn’t she — or anyone else — been hired on a  permanent basis?

The last time I posed this question was in September, when Leahy-Scott marked  six months of acting status. At that point, Gov. Andrew  Cuomo‘s communications director, Rich  Bamberger, explained the delay by noting that “it is difficult to recruit  for these positions because the salaries are not competitive with private sector  comparisons and Albany’s reputation over the past years is not inviting.” (He  meant Albany the state of mind, not the city — I think.)

The proof of this difficulty could be seen in Bamberger’s own departure for  the private sector in the following month, and the speedy exit of his  replacement, Allison Gollust — who announced her jump to CNN on Friday.

***

Six months later, the administration is striking a slightly different  tone: “We don’t have time limits,” a Cuomo administration source said last week.  “We have performance standards and the acting inspector general is meeting and  exceeding them.” In the private sector, someone who exceeds performance  standards might expect to be hired on a non-acting basis.

The inspector general’s office has a flexible mandate. It can investigate the  actions of anyone drawing a taxpayer-funded paycheck — such as State Fair  officials called out for poor procurement and security procedures in a report  issued last Thursday.

Previous governors have used the office to tackle big game. Say what you will  about former Gov. David  Paterson, but he empowered Joseph  Fisch to go after the state Senate, the Commission  on Public Integrity (the forerunner to JCOPE) and even Paterson’s  own office.

Cuomo seems content to allow the inspector general to hunt in a more  circumscribed territory.

The office hasn’t been able to follow through on a few significant  investigations. An audit of the New York Racing Association has been percolating  since May 2011, even though NYRA has been essentially taken over by  the state.

In April 2011, Cuomo asked Biben to investigate the billing practices of the Long  Island Power Authority, an announcement that rated a Red Room news  conference in which Biben promised a “swift and thorough” audit.

***

Almost two years later, the public hasn’t seen a word of it — even as  LIPA descended into a black hole of mismanagement. According to the same  administration source, the audit isn’t even in the inspector general’s  hands anymore.

Instead, the work has been absorbed by the Moreland  Commission investigating storm response after Irene, Lee and Sandy. That  Cuomo-created body is co-chaired by Benjamin  Lawsky, the superintendent of the Cuomo-created state Department of Financial  Services. Lawsky is a longtime Cuomo protege whose physical and stylistic  resemblance to the governor is close enough to make many in the Capitol murmur  about the moral issues posed by human cloning.

Put another way: If the governor was trying to engineer his own candidate for  comptroller or attorney general, that person would look a lot like Lawsky — by  which I mean a lot like Cuomo.

I hope that Leahy-Scott doesn’t read any sort of professional slight into  this analysis. After all, this column isn’t really about her.

cseiler@timesunion.com • 518-454-5619

Read more: http://www.timesunion.com/opinion/article/Seiler-Wanted-a-watchdog-for-good-4285225.php#ixzz2LHl92wqp

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About lipaoversight

LIPA Oversight Committee was created to analyze the rates and practices to determine if it is working in the best interests of the Suffolk County ratepayers
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