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 for 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.” 

Steve February 11, 2013 at 11:18 PM
After reading the Patch and seeing the condition of the roads, listening to the deputy supervisor, and the Supt. Highway being out on medical is just unfathoming. TOB just exemplifies the battle between 2 parties. This is not a party thing, although we don't hear of any republicans saying anything about the ocndition of their districts. It is amazing to me that I have seen absolutely NO TOB trucks ANYWHERE. No payloaders no NOTHING. Where are the UPSTATE equipment? Better yet where are the local companies equipment ??????? It boiles down to this - POLITICIANS should not be running ANYTHING - operations, and safety functions need to be run by professionals,// Having been involved for 40 years in senior management positions - this total failure would lead to dimissals or de-motion as a minimum. WAKE UP - The Super of Highway - we should not be looking to elect a lawyer - politician. Thats not what is absolutlly needed. A side point - during the storm I was cleaning out some old paperwork. I found my taxbill from 1987. I ask all of you - has your income increased at the same rate as your taxes ????? !!!!!!! - It time for all to wake-up and smell the roses ----- Common Sernse needs to at the top of everyones priorities in order to survive in Brookhaven, how about excel???
Mels Ditties February 11, 2013 at 11:19 PM
Someone (anyone) tell me how it is acceptable for the person in charge to be in an "unknown location" and NOT communicating with the people left in charge?...Geez, I ran computer facilities for years and was on call 24/7 if there were ANY problems... And WHY is there no "in case of snow falls over X inches/feet, then execute Plan Snow" plan?...This is really not rocket science ...It's a natural winter event...
Christina Tucker Cleary February 12, 2013 at 02:18 AM
OH MY GOD!! He will NOTTTTTTTT be getting my vote. He can kiss his ass and pention good bye!
Earl February 12, 2013 at 05:30 AM
Disgusting doesn't even begin to describe this. My comments will be immediately deleted if I say what I truly feel! We need to remember this, and vote all these clowns out of a job!
Earl February 12, 2013 at 05:42 AM
If these quotes do not make your blood boil, I don't know what will! "I did not anticipate this storm, otherwise I wouldn't have left," Romaine said. "I haven't had a vacation in two years."
Greg Fischer February 12, 2013 at 11:34 AM
It is not a "one man team". That is why we have Deputy Supervisors and a huge government staff.
Loretta Simckowitz February 12, 2013 at 12:26 PM
If the average TOB employee has only slept for two hours over the last couple of days where have they been working? There have been rare sightings of TOB plows and we have a substantial list of roads that haven't been plowed. How much money was spent on overtime this past weekend for a service we never received. Poor management trickles downward. I would like to see a list of roads that the TOB workers supposedly plowed and compare. Everyone should be accountable. Mr Romaine must have his head in the sand This storm was predicted on February 4th.
Living in Brookhaven February 12, 2013 at 01:02 PM
Yesterday I commented that so many people have no clue what it is like to deal with this weather from a plowing point of view. Since then, I noticed that there was a sharp decline in the amount of contractor plows from Saturday and Sunday. Where is the communication? The roads are lines on a map- give a grid to a few trucks and tell them to get to it. I dont even see the groups of guys at 7-11 like in the past- where did they all go?
Mels Ditties February 12, 2013 at 01:22 PM
Yeah...THAT one DID get my blood steamin'!....Didn't anticipate the storm?...He left on Wednesday...where the hell was he, in a cave?...ALL the weather talk on Wednesday was about the approaching storm!!!... Newsday edited their story...Yesterday their article said that Murphy had "called in sick" the past few days (NOT exactly "medical leave")...Today the article reads "Democratic Councilwoman Connie Kepert said highway department officials told her acting superintendent Michael Murphy had been absent because of a "toothache."" A TOOTHACHE?...Ok, I've had some mighty bad toothache, but ya git yourself some antibiotics & a few pain killers..put your big boy pants on & GIT TO WORK!!!... If we pulled stunts like this (back in my corporate life) we would have been FIRED (they taken out back and beat!!) for abandoning a problem this critical!
Mels Ditties February 12, 2013 at 01:26 PM
Supervisors & staff are directed by their leader....Emergency plans should be created BEFORE emergencies arise....then plans can be executed regardless of who is/ who isn't available... The responsibility lies with the leader....and trickles down to the rest... Vote them ALL OUT ASAP!!!
Joyce Philbin-Collier February 12, 2013 at 01:49 PM
Well said! The Incorporated Village of Belle Terre, one of many villages abandoned by The Town of Brookhaven, was further abandoned by a Mayor who ignored all the Media warnings regarding the impending snow storm. Apparently he knows better. He readied for the storm with a few landscape trucks, no sand, no tree removal services, no communication system, no ability for residents to call the constable, no plan. This whole handling or mishandling of the Blizzard was a collossal combination of incompetence, arrogance and a flagrant disregard for human life.
Joyce Philbin-Collier February 12, 2013 at 01:50 PM
The Incorporated Village of Belle Terre, one of many villages abandoned by The Town of Brookhaven, was further abandoned by a Mayor who ignored all the Media warnings regarding the impending snow storm. Apparently he knows better. He readied for the storm with a few landscape trucks, no sand, no tree removal services, no communication system, no ability for residents to call the constable, no plan. This whole handling or mishandling of the Blizzard was a collossal combination of incompetence, arrogance and a flagrant disregard for human life.
Regina Brownell February 12, 2013 at 06:44 PM
Still backing Dan Panico he was the only official left standing and did not abandoned his post or the people when the rest of the cowards went and hid!
Earl February 12, 2013 at 06:50 PM
True, this is not a one man team effort, but when the top man is not there to do anything, then why is he needed at all? Get rid of the bum! We need to storm (pun intended) the next meeting he is at with burnin stakes and demand his ouster!
Regina Brownell February 12, 2013 at 06:52 PM
My husband and I are residents of the newly formed Village of Matic Beach if it was not for Dan Panico we would have not accomplished that, and our community has been devestated by Sandy and Dan along with our village officials where able to get those breeches fixed or we still would be getting flooded. Just asking everyone to step back and see what officials ran and only one stayed Dan Panico he does put public safety first. Thank You best regards to my fellow LI'ers
Joyce Philbin-Collier February 12, 2013 at 07:10 PM
You make a good point. Panico has not been in the position very long but I think he did the best he could. Ed is a nice guy but this was huge. He left when all the reports said there was going to be a major storm. He left with a new deputy and an interim Highway Superintendent at a time when the Town had just abandoned all the incorporated villages in the Town of Brookhaven. Add to that, the Mayor in Belle Terre chose to reject teaming up with neighboring villages to contract with snow removal companies. He had little landscape trucks and no tree removal system or communication system. Lives were put in danger at the hands of those who cowardly ran away and hid until others found a way to get done what Romaine and in the case of Belle Terre, the Mayor couldn't. There should be a major investigation because this should never happen again.
Jacquelyn Smith Kirsch February 12, 2013 at 11:00 PM
Cry me a river! He hasn't had a vacation in 2 years and he thinks that justifies abandoning the Town as a blizzard approaches? I knew on Tuesday that this had the potential to be a very bad storm and I started getting ready. If I knew, he knew. Perhaps we all need to arrange for Mr. Romaine to be in the position to take a vacation any time he wants!! He is obviously unsuited for the Supervisor's job. He obviously has no idea what kind of dedication is required. And he truly cares nothing for the Town's residents. Mr. Romaine needs to go.
Joyce Philbin-Collier February 12, 2013 at 11:38 PM
Ch. 12 News: Ed Romaine was in Jamaica since Wednesday, before the storm hit and after he knew the storm was coming. The interim Highway Super, Murphy according to Connie Keppert , had a tooth problem. He hasn't been at work since last Wednesday. Now he is saying he had a family emergency. Governor!!!!! We need an investigation!!!!!!
Earl February 13, 2013 at 05:52 AM
Check out the FB page Recall Ed Romaine & Fire Dan Panico. Let's get the number of "likes" up.
Spencer wizelshivits February 13, 2013 at 02:47 PM
Thank bellone for this mess not romaine. He was the one who told plows to leave the nursing home, to dig out his family. Then told them now to return to the facility. John j foley still has 80% of the parking lot covered in snow. Emergency vehicles still can not use the road to the lobby. People are falling on the sidewalks. Bellone dislikes romaine for denying the variance for the building. He's trying to make romaine look bad.
Spencer wizelshivits February 13, 2013 at 02:49 PM
*not to return to the facility.
Regina Grande-Brownell February 13, 2013 at 04:13 PM
Are you not blaming Romaine because he was not in the country? He should have cancelled his trip when he was notified of a major snow storm/blizzard heading for our district that he was sworn into oversee the incopetence was unacceptable. And as far as "looking bad they didn't need any help"


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »