Editorial: Incandescent idiocy

05/26/2011 7:05 AM |

Back when Long Island homes were powered by LILCO, the Long Island Lighting Company, elected officials had a field day beating up on the giant utility for all manner of reasons, not least of which were the ill-fated plans to build a nuclear generating station in Shoreham and two more in Northville. The island remains nuclear-free and LILCO is no more, replaced by the Long Island Power Authority. Many a politico has been unable to break the habit of grabbing some cheap publicity at the authority’s expense, but quite often the charges leveled against LIPA come across as self-serving and gratuitous.

That is, until this week.

In a “what the heck were they thinking?” move rivaling any of LILCO’s bone-headed decisions, LIPA decided to charge Shelter Island a per-pole fee for the American flags mounted on them by the island’s American Legion post. The flags wave above the route taken by members of the First Cavalry’s Banshee Troop out of Fort Drum, who came to Shelter Island over the weekend to visit the home of a fallen comrade, Lt. Joseph Theinert, killed in Afghanistan last year.

The decision to charge $5 a year per pole — which would have come to $95 —  sparked a media frenzy on the island, and the authority agreed to pro-rate the fee to $1.25 per pole, since the flags would fly only through July 4. How kind and generous.
Of course it’s not about the money, it’s about an authority acting as authorities unfortunately do. LIPA CEO Michael Hervey eventually paid the fee himself, but if he truly wants to make things right, he should take the ferry over and sit down with the soldier’s family and explain how a company that lights up Long Island can’t itself see the light.