Editor's note: The following is a letter to Bill Cogger, the Mayor of Chester Township the author requested be shared as a letter to the editor.
Attached to this post is a photograph taken outside my home, the intersection of Rt. 24 and Twinbrooks Trail on Nov. 8, some 10 days after the storm. What I witnessed this morning is something I never thought I see in America, much less in Chester, NJ, school children stepping over downed power lines to get on a school bus.
Say what you want about daily contact with JCP&L, conference calls with the Governor, and posting to Twitter, the fact that our Chester school children had to carefully step over downed power lines to catch the bus says more about the response to this storm that all of the statistics of households restored. This is unconscionable on the part of JCP&L, that a full 10 days after the storm and there are still power lines down on the road. Not just any road, but Rt 24 for crying out loud.
JCP&L's response to the storm is equally troubling. Governor Christie's policy of making them post their progress to the Internet is good in concept but what good does it do when the numbers and dates have no relationship to reality. On Friday, Nov. 2, JCP&L's PDF file showed approximately 2,000 homes to be restored over the Nov. 2 to Nov. 4. in Chester Township. On the Nov. 4, I had the occasion to speak with a Chester police officer and he told me that he hadn't seen a truck all weekend. I went back to the web site on Nov. 5 and JCP&L simply moved all the numbers over to the next three days. It took all the way to the Nov. 7 or Nov. 8 before Chester was even addressed and that is a far cry from their original document.
When the power is down and communication is limited, we would expect that whatever information that JCP&L would post should be remotely close to their real activity. People stuck in cold houses without electricity have to make decisions on whether to seek shelter elsewhere, make contingency plans as well as other personal matters. For JCP&L to post such pure fiction and then hide behind an excuse that it was only an estimate is the height of audacity.
Look, I am just one household calling JCP&L on a daily basis seeking a solution to this problem. By myself, I can not hold JCP&L accountable for their inaccurate information, their argumentative customer service (using that term loosely) representatives, and their head up their ass priority assignments. But as a government official, you have a responsibility to your constituents to hold them accountable for these transgressions.
First, please take action. Call JCP&L and demand that this situation be cleaned up before someone gets hurt. Second, demand that they put up accurate information and when it doesn't happen, demand that they double back to make sure it gets done. And lastly, there should be a financial penalty extracted for lying, inaction, and lack of professional customer service. If they understand anything, its money. And we should all be demanding fat consumer rebates for this mess. Stating the obvious, this can only be done if all of our elected politicians have the moral courage to call them out on this and hold them accountable.
We are all watching, do the right thing.
1 Twinbrooks Tr
Chester, NJ 07930