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Highway Supe Candidates Questioned on Blizzard Response [VIDEO]

Shoreham Civic members ask the Brookhaven highway superintendent candidates how they would have handled the blizzard aftermath differently.

The response, or lackthereof, to the recent blizzard by the Town of Brookhaven has caused many to shift their focus toward the upcoming special election for highway superintendent.

Candidates Dan Losquadro and Kathy Walsh appeared at Wednesday's Shoreham Civic meeting at the Miller Avenue School and fielded questions mostly regarding the response to the blizzard and how it would be different if either of them held the position. A special election for the position, set to be held March 5, had been largely overlooked before road issues from the storm brought the position's responsibility to the forefront.

"In light of recent developments people are now realizing the importance of strong leadership in the highway department," said Civic President Bryan Lilly. "You don’t really notice anything until something smacks you in the face and that storm really did. I hope people come out and vote in this special election."

Many in attendance who asked questions were not only concerned over future response, but also why this response was such a failure.

"This was really an instance of a lack of leadership that we saw," Losquadro said. "One of the things this department did not do was reach out to its outside vendors to supplement the workforce of the town. By the time they reached out all those resources were committed elsewhere."

According to Losquadro, about one-third of the state’s total snow removal assets are currently operating here in Suffolk County. An evident issue was a lack of these outside vendors helping with snow removal in the area, and Walsh pointed to issues with the insurance liability those vendors faced on the bid contract.

"The insurance liability was raised to a level that eliminated a lot of small business from being able to participate," she said, "and that needs to be reviewed."

Acting Highway Supervisor Michael Murphy resigned Wednesday and John Capella, current deputy highway superintendent, will replace Murphy in the interim. Some have questioned whether this position should be elected or appointed, and both candidates pointed to the failure during the blizzard as an answer to that question.

"We have a perfect example of a politically appointed person that was not well prepared to do the job," Walsh said, "and I think it reinforces the need to have an election."

Losquadro mentioned that a referendum to make the position an appointed one was put to voters a few years back and failed "almost 80-20."

"God willing, we’re not going to have these major weather events every year or in this case, twice in six month," Losqudro said. "Just the day to day operations, a lot of times these are the things that have to take place and people expect as the fundamental service provided by town government for the taxes that they pay."

Go here to rate the Town of Brookhaven's response to the storm.

Edward Campbell February 14, 2013 at 11:51 PM
Timespirt February 15, 2013 at 02:21 AM
Well, I'm glad someone got to talk to the candidates, we missed our turn in Sound Beach because the roads weren't plowed and they couldn't make it. Our meeting was canceled!
Jon Versheck February 22, 2013 at 01:44 PM
I am curious, has anyone been to any of the local debates? Has anyone asked the candidates, "What are your qualifications for the position at hand? Then if they start answering by stating, "I have...." Questioned again, that is not what was asked. Please answer. What are your qualifications? Any Highway Dept experience? Engineering degrees? Do you have a CDL license? Have you ever driven a truck? Are you familiar at all, realistically with any Highway Dept operations? I am sure I am not the only one to wonder these things...... Jon at brookhavensuper.com
Jon Versheck February 24, 2013 at 05:18 AM
New plan? my plow eldrer taught some things: First, always assume, it's going to be worse than they say, it usually is. Second, 24+ inches of snow is not that bad, so long as you can plow it as often as you need to to treat it like 4,6, or even 8 inches at a time. Third, "Get good tires on that truck!" Fourth, weight, and chains. Never run light always carry tire chains (which most of the TOB trucks did have some years back, which I have verified.) I've had them darn chains sitting in my shed, since that storm that my plowmate and I were driving two wheel drive trucks in and he said "we will be fine, less on truck to break, just use your head", and we were fine (had to chain up once)Anyhow, how does this tie in? If leadership from the top,kept everyone going like they should have,"doing their rounds",and multiple passes were completed,it would not have been as bad. if there was some sort of "union slowdown," that kept the snow from being treated as 6 to 8 or even less inches at a time, that means that there was a huge failure on the supervisory level down. I tell you what, even supervisor of highways, or a foreman job looks good from my window here, because if that is the case, they failed also.
Jon Versheck February 24, 2013 at 05:45 AM
The job description for a highway general supervisor is straightforward and to the point. A general supervisor oversees a number of crews responsible for reconstructing, resurfacing or doing general maintenance work on town highways. In order to fill this post, one must have earned a high school diploma or its equivalent and served at least three years as a highway maintenance supervisor. Do any of these candidates meet these criteria?


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