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Moreland Commission Cancels Public Hearings

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Utility pole Utility pole (Photo by Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Chris Calvagna./flickr)

Utility customers on Staten Island and in the Rockaways won't get a chance this week to sound off about how their power companies performed during Sandy.

The state panel charged with investigating the companies made last-minute cancellations to the public hearings that were to take place Wednesday night and Thursday night.

A spokesman for the Moreland Commission cited bad weather and low expectations for turnout. It's unclear when the public hearings will be rescheduled.

Kenneth Boyden, an acting vice president at the College of Staten Island, showed up for Wednesday night's meeting at the Jewish Community Center, and was surprised to learn it had been cancelled.

"I'm disappointed because on behalf of the college we were enthusiastic for this opportunity to hear both good, bad and ugly," he said.

Governor Cuomo used special executive powers to form the Moreland commission after Sandy. The commission has said it's doing a thorough investigation of the state's power companies and their regulation. But some say the commission is a formality and that Cuomo already has changes in the works.

The public hearing process has seemed, at times, like an afterthought. The commission's website went live just hours before the first hearing earlier this month. Only one member of the public attended that meeting to speak. And one of the featured experts said he was only invited to speak hours before the meeting began. The most recent hearing, on Long Island, featured a made-for-camera swearing in of utility executives, and no public comments.

The commission spokesman says it hopes to issue preliminary recommendations before Governor Cuomo's state of the state speech takes place on January 9.

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