Con Ed: Time to Be Held Accountable for Your Negligence
On Wednesday the NYS Department of Public Service released its' report on the July 2006 power outage in Queens and what responsibility Con Ed had in the failure. To say the least, the report was scathing for Con Ed and called their failures in this incident "unacceptable."
The report goes on to say that Con Ed did not take appropriate action to "minimize the impact of the primary cable and transformer failures on the secondary system and consumers."
I could quote endlessly from the report, but instead you may just want to read it for yourself. The bottom line however is that Con Ed was grossly negligent in this situation and bears full responsibility for the duration and severity of the outage.
While there is a discussion of fines being levied against Con Ed, there is no discussion of compensation for the thousands of businesses that were essentially put out of business that week. And, as if to add insult to injury, Mayor Bloomberg is actually saying that there should be no penalty at all for Con Ed's negligence, and that any fine would just cause rates to increase for consumers.
The mayor's statement is patently untrue. While Con Ed is a for-profit company, its rates are regulated by the state and they can not just pass along the costs associated with their negligence to the consumer. Instead, the hit would be at the expense of the shareholders, who may find the loss of revenue enough to warrant the dismissal of Con Ed's management team.
This seems to be more at the heart of the mayor's false statement trying to defend his friend, Con Ed boss Kevin Burke, but that is not the real issue. The real issue is how are the thousands of businesses that were hurt by Con Ed going to be made whole.
Litigation is one way, and now that it becomes clearer every day that negligence, bad judgment and incompetence are at the heart of this catastrophe, the door is open for a legal remedy. However, it would serve everyone's interests if this were settled quickly. While $9 million is too low a fine, whatever money is eventually levied against Con Ed should be put in a business compensation fund to help all the small business owners that had to pay rent, salaries and other expenses while Con Ed took a week or longer to restore full power.
Unfortunately, too many of NYC's elected officials look at the business community as some sort of "cash cow" to be milked whenever these politicians can't manage to balance their $55 billion a year budget. Now is the time for the Mayor, Public Advocate, Borough President and Councilmembers to step up and do something in return for these people who have been the backbone of NYC's economic life.
These businesses have been hurt and deserve to be compensated. It is the only fair thing to do.
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