UPDATE- 1-2-2014 – 10:35 p.m. – From Ken Fletcher, Delta Township Supervisor (via Facebook IM) – “Peter Lark never once spoke with me during the entire crisis, and I had no idea that he was vacationing in NYC while my family and others were celebrating Christmas in a cold, dark house without power. He should resign immediately.” (See the quote from Lansing City Council President Carol Wood below calling for Lark’s resignation)
“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,” Lark said at a press conference and in a statement released to the media and published on the utility’s Facebook account.
Despite knowing when he left the city and returned, Lark was unable to say for certain whether Lansing Mayor Virgil Bernero was aware he was in NYC for part of the early days of the unfolding crisis. Later in the press event, he acknowledged that he did speak Bernero from NYC and that he believes the Mayor was aware that he was in New York.
BWL Board of Commissioners Chair Sandy Zerkle said she was aware the Friday before the storm that Lark planned to leave the city and head off to NYC with his family. She said his leaving the state when he did was not a bad thing saying the situation appeared to be under control at that point. She said the situation “kept escalating” after he left. She noted that his presence was not essential because he couldn’t be on a line fixing things.
Zerkle says she personally supports Lark one hundred percent.
The revelation that Lark was not in the city at a point when tens of thousands of utility customers were without power is not sitting well with some leaders in the community.
“The head of Lansing’s public utility Peter Lark on Monday called the ice storm that left nearly 40,000 customers without power three days before Christmas a ‘catastrophic event,’ never before experienced by any single utility in the state,” Carol Wood, at-large Lansing City Council members and current Council President, said in an email to Lansing Online News.
Based on Mr. Lark’s own words as to the severity of this situation it was deplorable that for Mr. Lark to leave Lansing. Yes I am asking for his resignation.” – Carol Wood, Lansing City Council President
And Republican State Sen. Rick Jones (R-GrandLedge) who represents Eaton County’s Delta Township — which is powered in part by the BWL as well as parts of the city of Lansing — said Lark should resign as well
“If he left after the crisis began, there’s no excuse, he should resign,” Jones said in a telephone interview with LON.