LIPA Causes Uproar By Charging To Honor Fallen Soldier On Shelter Island

$5 Fee Per Pole To Hang A Flag Has Parade Organizers Fuming

SHELTER ISLAND, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) –– A Long Island community’s tribute to our fallen heroes this Memorial Day will come with a surprising price tag.

The Long Island Power Authority says Shelter Island owes a fee for using its poles to hang American flags, reports CBS 2’s Emily Smith.

WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall On Long Island

Shelter Island is  ready for Memorial Day weekend. This year it’s especially picturesque.

“I think every community should do it. We can be an example,” said resident Lois Corbett.

The American Legion invested this year in new, heavy duty flags along the parade route as part of a special tribute to honor a local hero — Army 1st Lt. Joe Theinhart, who died in Afghanistan last June.

“I thought it was a great, a great way to continue to honor and give publicity to our veterans,” Corbett said.

But the flags have come with an unexpected price tag — from LIPA. The power company is charging a fee to use their poles. It cites an obscure requirement in a state law in imposing what amounts to a $23 pro-rated fee to use the poles from now until July 4.

That move is not sitting well with parade organizers.

“The idea that we should have to pay a fee to put up American flags doesn’t make sense,” Mike Loriz, commander of American Legion Post 281.

In a statement LIPA said shares the same frustration as the public regarding the issue of the pole attachment fee and contends, “this matter must be addressed by the State legislature to amend the law that prohibits state authorities from giving use of or disposing of their property for free.”

Shelter Island Councilman Peter Reich said it’s ludicrous.

“If you went to the deli and chained your bike up to get a cup of coffee, do you pay the state $5 for chaining your bike to a pole?” Reich said.

Shelter Island’s highway superintendent said he’s also upset. Mark Ketcham told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall he could understand charging for business advertisements or yard sales, but not for American flags.

“I mean, that seems a little ridiculous,” Ketcham said.

Verizon owns the majority of the poles — 65 of them along the parade route. Verizon acknowledged the fee and already waived it.

LIPA said it doesn’t have a right to waive the fee, so it will continue to collect money for the use of its poles — even if it involves old glory.

LIPA’s CEO agreed to pay the fee himself, but said it can’t be waived.

Do you find this to be absurd? Or do you think the law is the law? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

More from Sophia Hall
  • Joe Mamma

    I love how they tuck away the fact that the CEO is paying for the fee. The fee that state law requires.

  • Jeff McAfferty

    Isn’t this the same sacred holiday we celebrate with motor racing and BIG sales? I’m having a lot of trouble getting outraged. Besides you’d think real Americans would want their flags attached to capitalist polls, not these socialist ones.

  • Ivory Bill

    “…The law is an ass…”

  • SomeFarker

    Oh god, people just love to jump to conclusions without even reading the article.

    Point A) They are a PUBLIC ENTITY, Verizon is a PRIVATE ENTITY

    Point B) It is STATE LAW for a PUBLIC ENTITY to charge a fee in this case

    Point C) Verizon is a PRIVATE ENTITY, this law does not apply to them

    Point D) Their CEO/COO offered to pay the fee out of pocket.

    No story here, folks – or if there is one, it is that a CEO/COO offered to pay out of pocket to support vets. You all could stand to go back to elementary school – this is just sad.

    • Lol

      You forgot to mention that a public entity cannot waive the fee – again, by state law.

      Lol. Too many idiots here.

  • SSG Kevin Proctor

    This is ridiculous and shows how money and greed is running the country. I was one of the Soldiers that went to the island and served with one of the greatest Americans that I’ve ever known and for them to try to tax them for putting up the AMERICAN flag is a giant slap in the face. I applaud verizon and the CEO for taking care of this mess but it should not have been an issue in the first place. Last time I checked, this is the United States of America and they put up the American flag. The people of this island did nothing but take a bunch of Soldiers and strangers that they really didn’t know and house them and make them feel part of their family and show the most patriotic acts I have ever seen in the 8 years in the Army and deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan. Oh, and Joseph Didonato, you wouldn’t have the first clue as to why they hung up all those flags because you have evidently never served the flag or the country. Be glad that other people, like 1LT Joseph Theinert, were there and make the ultimate sacrifice for you. Your Welcome.

    • Rex Craigo


      Take a chill pill.

      And it’s YOU’RE, not your.

    • Jeff McAfferty

      You served a flag?

      • Dalt Danyon

        And you serve as a troll. There’s the difference.

  • Joseph Didonato

    Why cant there be just one huge flag, why does it have to look a like a mess of flags…. i got the message your patriotic but give me a break!!!

    • Rooster

      what? one huge flag spread out along the entire parade route? good call.
      and apostrophe, how does it work?, your != you’re

  • G in Mass Pk

    As I scrolled the the comments it’s clear who did not read the entire article. Whatever LIPA’s reasons for saying they cannot waive the fee – all fee’s can be waived – there is no profit to be had in $23 ??? and if the CEO of LIPA is going to pay the fee himself, why should he die of brain or anal cancer???

    Is the law wrong, yes of course it is! Are the companies in question trying to do the right thing? Yes they are. Instead of spouting nonsense on the internet contact your local legislative branch and ask them to co-sponser an act to amend the law. Do something productive with all that self righteous anger.

    In the meantime Shelter Island gets to keep it’s flags, they don’t have to pay the fee and all this press has served to bring attention to a local hero. No one profited, no one got hurt, and you, the people, who have raised your voices have a way to change this incredibly stupid law.

    Hint, it’s not by posting vulgar or threatening comments on CBS’s wall.

    • howard sturgis

      Well said, G.

  • LAD

    I am a retired american soldier who fought in two wars,Desert Storm and Afghanistan. It is hard to believe that greed and rules would charge a fee to hand our american flag on a pole,the same american flag that we american soldiers fought and died for.

    • Michael H.

      While I appreciate your service and thank you deeply for your sacrifice, this is not about the flag. This is about a law with regards to putting something, ANYTHING, including Old Glory, on these poles. As a state regulated utility, LIPA must follow the laws as they are written.

      Again, this is not about the flag. This applies to *anything* that goes on these poles.

  • Dale Auburn

    “In a statement LIPA said shares the same frustration as the public regarding the issue of the pole attachment fee and contends, “this matter must be addressed by the State legislature to amend the law that prohibits state authorities from giving use of or disposing of their property for free.””

    There it is. The law is the law, and LIPA can’t discriminate based on who is using the poles or for what reason. If you don’t like it, get the law changed.

  • robin

    LIPA is not actually run by LIPA, but National Grid, a company out of England……….Let the president of LIPA pay the fee & have a great weekend

  • Vin

    Who are they kidding? Any fee can be waived.How embarrassing for them to insist on the fee. Not good PR.

  • Ennis

    shhhhh!!! qUIET..dON’T GIVE THEM ANY ideas! I ride in NYC

  • Patrolman in Happy retirement

    Americans Stand Up and Fight Back Its Like the Time NYPD would NOT allow American Flags to be Worn above the Shield president Nixon changed that and the yellow rats at NYPD had to ammend the Patrol Guide and under buckle to the Morons that RAN the NYPD and by the way they have be blessed with a continued run of Morons and Idiots alike

  • Jack of Spades

    I believe this is unconstitutional. There is an amendment forbidding a poll tax. Seriously, I think they should pay the fee and Suffolk County should charge LIPA a fee for sticking a poll on Shelter Island.

    • jhaley

      Please tell me you are kidding about comparing a 24th amendment regarding poll tax to utility poles.

      One involves levying a tax as a prerequisite to voting, the others are pieces of wood sticking out of the ground.

  • LIPA'd out!!

    You can’t waive the fee LIPA really?
    Amazing how Verizon who I am also not a big fan of waived their fees.
    All in the name of profit huh!!

    • Dale Auburn

      Verizon is a private company. LIPA is a state-commissioned public authority. But you already knew that.

  • Larry Cowden

    Could anyone really expect anything less from LIPA? Should we really be shocked by their greed and arrogance? After all, they’ve been lying to their customers for years, inflating charges for storms, misbilling customers and blaming them. All to make a profit. And every time they are brought to account, they kick and scream like someone caught with their hand in the cookie jar! The head of LIPA and his cohorts never served our country, so why should they care? Just another way to make a buck and public be dammed! You won’t see them leading the charge to do away with this BS regulation.

  • Joey The Bone

    Hey Rob, Sweety Baby, it siad Staten Island on the Yahoo home page news link to the story, so lay off my bro Dennis Sheriden.

  • Dennis Sheridan

    You said Staten Island… That is a long way from Shelter Island..

  • Rob

    Don’t you love how people are so quick to comment, but don’t have the time to read the WHOLE editorial?

  • Pi$$ed Off Long Islander

    LIPA = Legal Organized Crime….. Period….

  • Mr.G

    LIPA is heartless and the rest of the greedy SOB’S . If it was there Son or Daughter there will wave the fee.

    • Michael H.

      “LIPA Chairman Michael Hervey, who has offered to pay the fee himself,”

      Yes…heartless and greedy….

      • LIPA'd Out!!

        Yes…heartless and greedy….

        You see Michael it’s not about the words it’s about the actions.

        The CEO could say he will pay for every American flag to be mounted on every pole in NY State. However he could or would be saying that knowing that there will be no way in H3LL he would do it. He could or in this case use a nice frivilous reason not to do it….but in Verizons case which I said in my post I am not a big fan of REALLY STEPPED up and waived their fees.
        Presto just like that no words or PR response on how they have to charge because of the law!

        In other words ACTIONS speak louder than WORDS!!!!

      • Michael H.

        As Dale pointed out above, Verizon is a privately owned company and LIPA is a public utility company. Two different animals and both have different rules that apply to them.

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