Lansing Board of Water and Light General Manager Peter Lark left Lansing at the height of last week's power outage.
According to BWL's own releases, 34,800 of its customers were without power on December 23rd when Lark left town to visit family in New York.
He returned on Christmas day,
Lark plans a press conference Thursday afternoon to address his absence. He released a statement apologizing for leaving town, saying, "If I had it to do over again, and if I knew then that power outages would continue for so many more days, I would not have made the same choice." The statement goes on to say Lark will not resign. You can read the full statement at the end of this story.
In a release, Mayor Virg Bernero calls Lark's decision to travel "ill-advised."
However, the mayor continues to support Lark and say "at this point I believe the BWL and our community are better served by continuity rather than more disruption."
Here is the full statement from J. Peter Lark:
"As has been reported by some media outlets, I with my wife, traveled to New York to visit my son last week.
In hindsight, it is now clear that my trip to New York was the wrong decision at the wrong time. I left work for New York on the afternoon of Monday the 23rd and was back in the office the afternoon of Christmas day on the 25th. During this time I was in continuous contact with my management team directing the restoration effort, and it did not slow down the BWL's continuous efforts to restore power. However, I recognize that it did not meet the expectations of my customers or our employees. For that I am very sorry and do sincerely apologize.
If I had it to do over again, and if I knew then that power outages would continue for so many more days, I would not have made the same choice. At the time, I firmly believed that the outage would be substantially resolved by Christmas day. Unfortunately, power outages continued for many customers.
I humbly acknowledge this.
Like most families, being with my wife and our son during the holidays is extremely important to me. Yet there are times when we are called upon as leaders to make personal sacrifices in the line of duty, the same way that so many of my customers and employees have made sacrifices during this outage.
From that perspective, there is no question I should have stayed in Lansing to lead our restoration efforts in person, rather than directing my restoration management team by phone and email. I humbly and sincerely apologize.
There will be a top to bottom review of how everything was handled over the past days and changes will be made. Our customers deserve the best and we hope to restore the trust that they have had in the BWL.
Allow me to address a question that I know is on your mind. Should I resign my position as general manager of the BWL?
The answer is no. There is a lot of work to do in implementing the changes necessary to bringing BWL's technology into the 21st century, and I am confident I can continue, with the support of the board, the leadership role I've played at the BWL during the last 6 ½ years."