Lupinacci, Gaughran Trade Attacks on Huntington Issues

Political differences over a lawsuit, bail reform and LIPA exploded Wednesday in an ugly exchange of attacks between Huntington Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci, a Republican, and State Sen. James Gaughran, a Democrat.

Lauren Lembo, who is the public information officer for Lupinacci, sent out a release with the subject line, “Do Your Homework and Stop Misleading Our Residents for Political Gain” Wednesday afternoon, attacking Gaughran on the issue of the state’s new bail reform law, which has been denounced by many as too lax and a threat to public safety, and portraying his recent criticism of LIPA as an attempt to escape criticism about bail.

“After Senator Jim Gaughran voted for the ill-conceived and not very well thought out ‘criminal justice reform’ package, which made our neighborhoods less safe, eliminated a judge’s discretion to help keep dangerous people off the streets, created a revolving door for repeat offenders, and mandated victims’ addresses and contact information be shared with defendants, the Senator has ramped up his political pandering in an effort to sweep this disastrous failure under the rug.”

The release said Gaughran was attempt to deflect heat and making mistakes in some of his criticisms of LIPA.

“Pandering to the fears of Northport-East Northport School District residents, the Senator waved a New York State DEC permit review report for the Northport Power Plant at the cameras during his press conference on January 24, but he didn’t have his facts straight when he tried to scare residents into thinking the plant was in severe violation of state and federal air pollution standards. In fact, he had his facts so wrong that not only did LIPA call him out on his staff’s inability to understand the meaning of words in the DEC document describing the entire New York metro area – and not just the Northport plant – but Newsday’s January 28 issue of The Point also very publicly pointed out the Senator’s huge error.”

At a January press conference, Gaughran had questioned whether LIPA was properly monitoring emissions from its power plant in Northport. He told Newsday that  a state Department of Environmental Conservation report from 2019 “showed that the Northport plant ‘violated some state and federal emission levels,’ including for certain volatile organic compounds.  LIPA, however, immediately responded that Gaughran had misread the report. The press conference came against the backdrop of the LIPA tax reassessment case which could have major implications for Northport school district taxpayers as well as others in the Town of Huntington.

Gaughran, however, didn’t pull any punches in his response, bringing into the public conversation an issue that has been somewhat out of view.

“Instead of fighting LIPA’s reckless assault against taxpayers, Supervisor Lupinacci spent the last two years focused on sexual assault allegations against himself. It’s shameful he’s more concerned with protecting himself, and now his political cronies, than the Town he was elected to lead. This sounds a lot like a statement coming from a supervisor making excuses who is about to cave into LIPA to bankrupt our taxpayers and devastate our schools.”
Gaughran’s comments referred to a lawsuit filed 2018 by Lupinacci’s former aide, Brian Finnegan, who accused him of having sexually assaulted him during a trip to Albany to clean out Lupinacci’s State Assembly office after his election as town supervisor. That civil suit is still in court.
The state senator had also filed a bill in Albany that would strengthen reporting requirements in certain cases of sexual harassment or human rights revelations. That bill resulted from a report that the town’s then-public safety director had to resign two months after he had sent a vulgar email about a female town employee.  The two Democratic members of the Town Board complained that Lupinacci had withheld information about the incident when they should have been informed immediately.
In addition to the LIPA plant monitoring issue, the state Health Department told Newsday that it was “aware of concerns raised by the community over the possibility of health effects related to the Northport power station in Northport, and conditions at the Northport Middle School.” The middle school was closed in January as a group of residents insisted that it had made children and staff sick, though other parents have pushed back and demanded that the school reopen until environmental tests are completed this spring.


Leave a Reply