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 the 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.” 

S Massey February 12, 2013 at 02:56 PM
Forget of voting them out. They should resign ASAP!
mary ann February 12, 2013 at 04:36 PM
"Oh captain, my captain...where art thou?" Reminds me when Mayor Bloomberg was in the tropical islands when the big snow storm hit the boroughs! At least he got back as fast as he could, but it was too little too late with buses and cars stranded all over the place! Thank you Steve Fiore-R. for speaking up! Actually SAW a plow truck this morning and he was here for MY street! Be still my heart! I'm now a happy camper...don't have to camp in any longer. Have a grreat day!
lscholl February 12, 2013 at 05:33 PM
A pay loader finally arrived to partially clear the roads in Old Field South neighborhood. How long has Mr. Romaine even been in office that he already needs a vacation? Wasn't he just elected Town Supervisor? Perhaps voters should give Mr. Romaine plenty of vacation time by voting him out of office. Better yet, he should resign. As for the acting Highway Superintendent , he is a total disgrace, completely missing in action. For the taxes we pay in Brookhaven, we deserve better.
Beach Bum February 12, 2013 at 06:24 PM
What I find Incredible is that Supervisor Romaine is apparently still not in town. I know plenty of people who may have been stranded by the storm out of town who have successfully made it back by now. Guess he doesn't want to face the music. He needs a permenant vacation and should resign NOW! I heard Deputy Spervisor Dan Panico say on News 12 yesterday that Brookhaven citizens should understand that our town has more than 2,000 miles of roadway and is the size of Nassau Co. Big deal. Hire the workers you need to get the job done. No excuse. It's not like the town suddenly got bigger this year and this is something new to tackle. He also said we have to realize that this is a heavy wet snow to move. It only got heavy and wet as of yesterday when it rained. It was actually a powdery snow during the hours and 2 days after the storm when the snow should have been plowed. They only made it harder on themselves and should not ask for our understanding now. The citizens of Brookhaven have been more than understanding and reasonable. It's time for the managers to manage. Anyone else would have been fired by now!
Madmike February 13, 2013 at 03:24 AM
My concern is that this whole thing is going to die out and no one is going to investigate what happened - or what didn't happen. This was a huge deal to us residents and an obvious lack of any kind of leadership...gimmee a break with all the damn excuses. Someone needs to pay for this blatant incompetence but like anything else involving local government nothing will happen and it will all be forgotten.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »