Council, Mayor, BWL Officials Hear Hours of Public Comment from Frustrated Residents

By: Josh Sidorowicz Email
By: Josh Sidorowicz Email
Monday night

Lansing Board of Water & Light's General Manager J. Peter Lark looks on Monday night during public comment at city council's special meeting.

For Lansing residents, some going on ten days without power still, Monday night was their chance to speak face to face with Mayor Virg Bernero and Lansing Board of Water and Light officials.

Hundreds packed into council chambers with more than 50 people speaking during the public comment portion of the special meeting, which lasted more than three hours.

The special meeting was called in wake of the widespread power outages which knocked more than 40,000 BWL customers off line at one point.

About 700 remain as of Monday night, though several speakers at the meeting argued that number could actually be much higher.

For most who spoke Monday night, many of the comments centered on problems with communication between BWL and customers, with speakers claiming they were literally left in the dark when it came to restoration times and clean up efforts.

"The emergency number to the Board of Water and Light is a joke," said one resident. "We never ever were able to get through, not one time."

Other residents quipped that Monday night was the first chance they had to speak to a live BWL worker since the outages began.

With BWL's General Manager J. Peter Lark taking notes and looking on during public comment, several speakers called for him to resign from his post.

"Live up to what's expected of you," said one Lansing woman. "There is no acceptable excuse, this is not some remote village in the Appalachians, its the capitol city of this state."

"This is a scandal of mismanagement," said another man. "I expect change and accountability."

Mayor Virg Bernero and the city weren't spared from public comment either, with several residents still questioning the mayor's refusal to declare an emergency.

"I want to know why the welfare checks were implemented eight days later," questioned one resident. "In a time of crisis and an emergency situation people want to feel safe and they want to feel cared about, that didn't happen, our people felt abandoned."

Prior to the meeting, Mayor Bernero defended his and the city's response in the aftermath of the storm.

"It was an act of God, we responded in the best way we could and I'm proud of the response the city made," he said.

"You can always do better and you can always learn from it and we will learn from it and we will be better prepared for the next storm."

WILX went to air with this story before the meeting ended and BWL and city officials were able to give their presentations.

The meeting was still on going as of 11:30 Monday night.


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