Citing Investigation, Cuomo Administration Withholds Emails With Utilities
Emails between top aides to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and officials at power utilities exchanged during Superstorm Sandy are being withheld as a Moreland Commission investigates the handling of the storm.
Capital Tonight filed a Freedom of Information request with the administration on Nov. 5, seeking emails between top aides, including Secretary Larry Schwartz, State Operations Director Howard Glaser and State Division of Homeland Security Commissioner Jerome Hauer, exchanged with utility companies covering the lead up to, during and immediately after the storm.
The legally required responses from the governor’s FOIL counsel in the last several months have cited the need for more time to respond to the request.
But on Tuesday, FOIL Counsel Justin Levin wrote in an email that the documents sought relate to the Moreland Commission’s investigation of the utilities’ response to the storm and that releasing them could “interfere with that investigation.”
“The subject matter of your request pertains to an ongoing investigation by the Moreland Commission,” Levin wrote. “Accordingly, the documents require careful legal analysis to ensure that disclosure would not interfere with that investigation. We will update you on the status of your request by April 9, 2013.”
Cuomo announced the Moreland Commission’s creation on Nov. 13 last year to probe the New York power utilities “response, preparation, and management” during storms Sandy, Irene and Lee. The commission, which has subpoena power, is led by former Attorney General Robert Abrams and Superintendent of Financial Services Ben Lawsky.
The state’s major power providers were criticized in the wake of the storms — especially Sandy — for moving too slowly to restore power to hundreds of thousands of damaged and devastated homes and other utility customers.
Before the commission was in place, reporters from the Associated Press and Gannett’s Albany bureau did obtain emails sent from Glaser to an official at New York State Electric & Gas on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. In the emails, Glaser excoriates NYSEG for being “woefully unprepared and not performing.”
In a subsequent email, Glaser wrote that NYSEG “seems utterly unable to communicate with local officials or residents, much less the Governors office.”
Cuomo that same day warned utility companies that poor performance would result in penalties and possible revocation of their franchise licenses.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on March 13, 2013 at 11:48 am, and is filed under Andrew Cuomo. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|