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Romaine Out of Town During Blizzard

Town Board members say supervisor’s absence hindered Brookhaven cleanup from historic storm.

Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine has been out of town on vacation since Wednesday, his spokesman Jack Krieger confirmed for Patch.

His exact location is unknown. Also unknown is who Romaine, a Republican, has been communicating with during and after the storm. It is also not known whether Romaine attempted to return to Long Island prior to or after the storm, and if he was even able to do so.

Councilman Steve Fiore-Rosenfeld and Councilwoman Kathy Walsh both said they have not seen or heard from Romaine during the blizzard or afterwards - and say it is having an impact on cleanup across Brookhaven.

“It does have an impact when the leader of a township who has the authority to take command of all departments, and marshal all forces and resources is not at Town Hall,” said Fiore-Rosenfeld, a Democrat. “Clearly, his lack of presence at the helm is not helpful to our ability to respond to residents and their concerns about being snowed in and trapped in their homes.” 

The councilman on Sunday wrote a scathing letter to Romaine and acting Highway Superintendent Michael Murphy calling it a "a complete and systematic breakdown in the ability of the Town Highway Department to respond to this crisis." 

Walsh, who said she spent the weekend answering calls from residents at the Town's Emergency Operations Center, said many roads in her council district had not gotten a first pass from snowplows as of 4:30 p.m. Sunday, and she could not provide an answer as to why that was.

“Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a whole lot of information shared and I’m just as frustrated as residents,” Walsh said.

Councilman Daniel Panico, who was named deputy supervisor in January replacing Walsh, has been running the town in Romaine's absence.  

“Dan Panico has been very helpful," Fiore-Rosenfeld said. "He’s new on the job and is doing the best he can, but he’s not the supervisor or superintendent of highways.” 

Panico has not responded to multiple calls from Patch since Saturday afternoon. 

Murphy has reportedly been out on a medical leave of absence during the storm, according to Walsh. Like Panico, he is newly appointed to that position following the resignation of John Rouse in January.

This leaves Town Board members asking who is in control of the Highway Department during this crisis.  

“I want to praise the average highway worker, who in the last two to three days has in some cases only gotten two hours of sleep,” Fiore-Rosenfeld said. “If people in my neighborhood haven’t gotten their streets plowed, it’s not their fault. It’s the lack of leadership in Town.” 

monkey lewis February 12, 2013 at 09:25 AM
Lesko took UN Agenda 21 cash,this is an extension of that.Crookhavens cruel experiment on overtaxed peasents.Plowing the roads for the little people is not sustainable.Rotten to the core.
Gary Likeness February 12, 2013 at 11:22 AM
Ed needs to clear out his desk and move on. If LIPA can be suspended, why not the Town of Brookhaven supervisor? Last night I saw 3-4 plows patrolling 25a in Ridge. NOW? After the warm weather did what the Town couldn't do, which is clear 25a? Ed, do the only honorable thing you can do now. Resign.
jim polichak February 12, 2013 at 12:06 PM
OK, Ed Romaine should be here. No doubt about it. My question is how many of the Brookhaven plows were used to clear the LIE that we all depend on? If most or even just many that would go a long way to explain why other roads went unplowed. The Supervisor has a lot to explain about regarding leaving with an impending storm on the way but if the plows the Brookhaven would normally have used were clearing the LIE I doubt if he could have done anything about it. There are only so many snow plows around. It isn't as if they are used every day. Both Islip and Smithtown have similar snow plow problems with their Supervisors still in town. The snow plows here on Long Island are not the heavy duty kind found upstate so they are not as able to handle this much snow. Many are owned privately are were not kept in tip top condition because we normally don't see this much snow. Can anyone recall 3 feet of snow here on Long Island before this storm? Brookhaven got its normal annual amount of snow in one storm.
lisa padormo February 12, 2013 at 12:54 PM
The whole town of brookhaven sucks..starting the holtsville fire dept who isnt fully equipped w.knowledgeable ppl ..where my son had anaphylatic shock ..not breathing & it took 9 mins for oxygen..but the great commissioner told me I was lucky it wasnt 15 mins..think they all shld be replaced..then theres the plows ,,trapped inside w.a severely asthmatic child..no way out..great job..i cld live in the projects in bklyn& have better service..so I guess I just wont pay my taxes this yr..since im not receiving mail due to no plows..go to hell brookhaven...
Edbo February 12, 2013 at 12:55 PM
I just knew Romaine was away....probably in Florida somewhere, Dan has done a good job trying to resolve the snow situation. Whithout leadership, the Town will flounder in its problems....so far, Romaine has not showed any leadership and his lack of presence in the Town during this time of crises had just increased the problem.
fazziola, dan February 12, 2013 at 01:10 PM
I have lived in Farmingville for 28 years, and the town has never done a "good" job plowing my street. I grew up in Huntington & lived and plowed through the "big one" in 78, we plowed 36 hrs stright, when we were done the roads were open, no GPS, no smart phones, just a CB radio & a PLAN, and that plan was to plow an assigned route and dont STOP, keep the truck moving, all night, one blade width of open road is easier than a drifted over closed road. We have seen one private plow on our street, at 6:30 sunday night, one pass. As of 5:30 am Tues. our road has not been plowed. It's not the power of the storm here its the, IT'S THE LACK OF A PLAN! Watched a Farmingville fire truck get stuck on the 16" ice shelf that greets you when you turn from Horseblock. Fed up in Crookhaven
Jacqueline Vollmer February 12, 2013 at 02:08 PM
I NEVER had a "first pass" on my street either... and as a nurse, I haven't been able to get to work!!! So Sad, and I'm so mad at the lack of leadership in my town... :(
Brian Gavan February 12, 2013 at 02:51 PM
Who has done their homework on Ms. Walsh and Mr. Losquardro anyone I doubt it . I am still waiting to find out when the emergency meeting of the highway dept is going to take place . Because I am expecting S.F.R to ask for the immediate resignation of the guilty . As I stated yesterday the whole crookhaven thing is very boring . Try to ignore the politics Democrat Republican and work on a solution. Do not jump up on the soap box like ( S.F.R. ) this is political grand standing at it's best and when push comes to shove all the politicians will do the turtle , slip back in to their shell until the next opportunity to grand stand comes up. It would be great see standing room only at the big meeting , and give our elected officials an ultimatum. Perform or be gone no more excuses, work together or get out stop whining about each other. Ask our neighbors in Patchogue how they did it. Seek counsel nothing wrong with asking for help. And please someone go to Teds house and give him a hug and maybe cocktail we know he will not be on the road !
Louise DeTurris February 12, 2013 at 03:46 PM
I live 1 block north of sachem HS North on Elm st , it is tues am still my rd is not plowed!!! My street is used by many parents , teachers and students when smith rd is flooded... Which if snow melts it will be! Well don't come down elm st it's not been plowed!!! I don't know how school can open when the roads closest haven't been touched! This is a disgrace, Town of Brookhaven should be ashamed , with the taxes we pay!!! We HAVE had snow like this before , 2 years ago ! Unacceptable day 4 still no plows!!!
RockyPointDiver February 12, 2013 at 04:18 PM
To whoever said they don't have to plow all 3 feet at once, with the way people got stuck on the roads all across the Island it sure seemed like it came down pretty much all at once. Not to defend the coordination of the clean-up, but when even the LIE took as long as it did to reopen should tell you that this was way, way beyond the normal. Given the amount of snow that fell, how quickly it piled up, and the drifts that were created by the high winds, I'm betting that only the largest plows were able to deal with it and that the smaller equipment was useless in this storm.
Tiana Marie February 12, 2013 at 04:19 PM
With all due respect Bryce, I am not sure how Kathy's husband or son come into play here. They do not employ me nor do I care about their personal/family matters. I'm confused how these matters relate to Kathy's qualifications for Highway Superintendent. Your accusations have nothing to do with the upcoming election, and i find them very difficult to believe anyway. On a side note, the english language differentiates between "there," "their," and "they're." Any educated individual would know that. Make sure you vote people..
Bill L February 12, 2013 at 05:16 PM
Your right but the voters just keep voting these people back in. Most vote a straight line whether Dem or Rep. Instead they should just vote for the "other canidate" because the incumbent isn't doing thier job
Bill L February 12, 2013 at 05:19 PM
When I heard that Brookhaven ploys were helping on the expressway my first though... " How can we get to the expressway if we can get out of our streets" Makes me mad
RockyPointDiver February 12, 2013 at 05:40 PM
"Your right but" "canidate" "isn't doing thier job" Yeah, that's the resume of someone whose advice I want to follow.
Stephanie February 12, 2013 at 06:01 PM
Impeach Ed Romaine!!! This is beyond unacceptable!!! the fact that he wasn't here to lead his township during a blizzard is unacceptable!!!
RPSteve February 12, 2013 at 06:19 PM
The cars would not have gotten stuck to the point of blocking the roads, if the town was out in full force plowing and sanding the roads during the storm. Brookhaven dropped the ball.
Janie Mack February 12, 2013 at 06:33 PM
Town highway workers have been working with what they have
Janie Mack February 12, 2013 at 06:40 PM
Town highway worker is working under the direction of management. It is up to management to secure the necessary resources from State, County, and private companies. Existing highway equipment could not handle the amount of snow that came down and the speed with which it came down Friday night. I agree that salt and sand was not put down when it should have been but all of these directives probably came from management . As for the people stating that they should not pay their taxes, the highway taxes are a small portion of our outrageous tax bill. The school portion is the majority.
Jen Jones February 12, 2013 at 08:00 PM
I don't buy the "there's just so many plows" argument. There has been a row of payloaders parked at Kmart on N Ocean Ave unused since the storm started. Apparently they are being flat-bedded back to NYC because Brookhaven wouldn't fund the overtime for the drivers. I don't know if this is true, but I do know they weren't out plowing.
Pete M February 12, 2013 at 10:09 PM
Isn't Ronkonkoma Islip?
Archie Bunker February 12, 2013 at 10:49 PM
after two months on the job? He was sworn in Nov 26?
Jsk February 12, 2013 at 11:23 PM
Time for you people to vote all the crooks out. Every board member and elected official should be voted out. Brookhaven residents and New Yorkers keep voting for the same garbage politicians. Brookhaven Voters have no guts.or are just the famous ill informed voters. most of NY falls into that catergory
Brian February 13, 2013 at 02:39 AM
Friday timeline: morning rush up till noon = rain. Noon to 3:00 = sleet. 3:00 to rest of day/evening/night = mostly snow, some sleet. Now during the afternoon hours, do you recall seeing a plow or sand/salt spreader anywhere on the LIE, country roads, local roads? I was fortunate enough to be able to leave work at 12:30. There wasn't a truck in sigh in my short drive home from Patch to Farmingville. They weren't prepared and did not react fast enough and with the right resources. The cars got stuck because there was sleet slowing freezing under the 2-4" of snow from 3:00-6:00. I started shoveling at home Friday at 7:00 and by 9:00 had near 8" of snow already. You put the plow down and you move it once we hit 3" and you don't pick it up until it's all gone. You are in charge of plowing a certain area, exit of the LIE, etc. and you keep going around and around until it's clear. 2600 miles of Brookhaven roads divided by 200 plows = 13 miles a piece. Get assigned your 13 miles and keep it clean. That is all.
Brian February 13, 2013 at 02:42 AM
The lack of sand and alt; you hit a majority of the problem right on the head there. Plus, yes, highway taxes are only about 6% of the overall bill we pay. Do you think they will learn from this? This was the same issue, although not as severe, with the back-to-back Jan 2011 storms that each dumped 16" in my 'hood. No salt or sand, not even afterward.
fazziola, dan February 13, 2013 at 01:06 PM
there is an election for hwy. dept. coming up....lets send a msg LOUD AND CLEAR!
Edbo February 13, 2013 at 01:15 PM
And the will be an election in November 2013....the voters in Brookhaven will not forget this mess and absence of leadership on behalf of the Supervisor....we will need someone that has strong leadership skills....dump Romaine!
Brian February 13, 2013 at 02:32 PM
What message are you planing to send? Murphy was only a temporary fill-in after Rouse left office. He is also not on the ballot. Walsh v. Losquadro. Do you think either of them would be better than Murphy? If so, how can you tell? Face it, with every election, Long Islanders are practically voting in newcomers to local offices. These are the offices where it counts most; all politics is local. If I'm voting for a Highway Super I'd like to see someone who has held that position elsewhere, comes from the transportation industry or some other related experience. Or, someone who has managed a crisis before at a previous job or industry. Has either potential Highway Super done that? Are they even qualified to be on the ballot? This is a position where we don't need them to 'learn on the job'. It should not be a stepping stone to another, higher, spot in government.
jerry stein February 13, 2013 at 04:04 PM
who might be those good ole boy expiditors.. name some names!!!
Bill L February 13, 2013 at 04:51 PM
They will forget, they always do. Most vote a straight party line. I am a firm believer that who ever is in office, citing the poor economy and the fiscal mess they created, isn't doing thier job. All these politicians want to do is finger point to the opposite party instead of getting down to business and helping the people. Come November, VOTE THEM ALL OUT!
RockyPointDiver February 13, 2013 at 05:17 PM
Sorry, but "vote them all out" is as stupid and lazy an approach as straight party-line voting. If you vote without doing a little homework to find out the positions and track record of the candidates to determine who you think is the better choice, then you're doing no better than flipping a coin.

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