Volume 73, Number 39 | January 28 - February 03, 2004

Politicians and Board 3 react to Con Ed tragedy

As New Yorkers still remained stunned and in a state of disbelief over the death of East Villager Jodie Lane after she fell on an electrified Con Ed junction box while walking her dogs on Jan. 16, local politicians and Community Board 3 said Con Ed must improve safety to insure such a tragedy never occurs again.

Councilmember Margarita Lopez said she may introduced legislation in the City Council to require Con Ed to make regular inspections of the junction boxes and sign off on a checklist afterward to verify that each facility was safe.

“I personally cannot justify this,” Lopez said, “this person dying just because of salt and cold weather. I think there is liability here. They say these cables were deteriorated. Why were they deteriorated? If we don’t do something about this, it will happen again.”

Assemblymember Deborah Glick said the State Legislature is looking into what sort of investigation, if any, they might be able to conduct. She expressed outrage at Lane’s death.

“Those of us who knew there was some problem for animals had some idea,” Glick said, “but had no idea that the result could be that you could have a dead animal or a dead person.”

Glick noted that rubber booties may provide protection for dogs’ paws from electrical shocks, but the danger will continue until Con Ed addresses the problem.
“What do you do if you’re vision impaired or what if you’re by your car and you’re putting your keys in and drop your keys and bend down to pick them up?…. I can’t tell you the phone calls and e-mails I’ve been getting,” Glick said, “because how many times have you slipped on the ice? And what do you do? You put your hands down. Maybe you’ve got gloves on. But what if you don’t?”

On Jan. 20, David Gmach, a top assistant to Eugene McGrath, Con Ed’s C.E.O., spoke to Community Board 3’s Public Safety Committee about the incident. Among other things, the committee is reportedly following up on information that the use of calcium chloride to melt snow and ice is banned in Europe.


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