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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 to 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.” 

annette kattau February 12, 2013 at 01:53 PM
The man is entitled to a vacation. He left a very capable person in charge. This is about republican against democrates on the board seems to be now. The highway dept acting supt called in sick 4 days in a row there is a message here from the union.....go ahead and vote for kathleen walsh whos huband is the union leader this is a deliberate work mess at the highway dept level. What about the state roads they are just as bad everywhere!!!!
Archie Bunker February 12, 2013 at 03:03 PM
Let's talk reality, since some people need a check on that. In the "real world", is it reasonable to start a job (Nov 26) and go on a vacation in just over two months of being on that job? "You're hired!" "Thanks, just to let you know, I am taking vacation 60 days from now" Furthermore, it's only a two year term that bears responsibility and leadership. And when the leadership is most needed, you can't be there? Next time, don't run for a two year period if you feel you need a break.
Archie Bunker February 12, 2013 at 03:04 PM
He could have run the response effectively? I dunno. You know, a little leadership
Archie Bunker February 12, 2013 at 06:00 PM
Oh and you said this is about republicans against democrats. Its more like its the taxpayers being stranded and left in a dangerous potion despite paying some of the highest taxes in the country. And the man elected to ensure the town's safety was on holiday after being in his posotion for 2 months.
Mickey Visco February 12, 2013 at 11:56 PM
He deserves to be voted out...there is NO REASON to be gone during a possible major storm....yes people deserve vacations..but who forced him to take the job?

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