New York Governor Andrew Cuomo fired his emergency management chief after the official sent public employees to clear a fallen tree from his Long Island home during Hurricane Sandy, according to a Cuomo aide familiar with the dismissal.
As head of the New York Emergency Management Office, Steven Kuhr coordinated the response to disasters. Kuhr was appointed by Cuomo in October 2011. Before that, he was the chief operating officer at Strategic Emergency Group LLC, an East Northport, New York-based company.
Tree-clearing crews have been in high demand since the storm, which knocked out power to as many as 8.5 million homes across 21 states. About 2.1 million of those were in New York, including about 1 million on Long Island. Almost 200,000 homes and businesses there were still without power today, according to the Long Island Power Authority.
Kuhr, who was in Albany when he learned that the storm had knocked down a tree in his driveway, called the Suffolk County Emergency Management Office and asked that its employees remove it, the Cuomo aide said. The aide spoke on the condition of anonymity because the aide wasn’t cleared to discuss personnel matters publicly.
Vanessa Baird-Streeter, a spokeswoman for Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone, didn’t respond to a telephone call for comment after regular business hours.
Cuomo fired Kuhr after learning of the incident, the aide said. The dismissal was first reported by The New York Times today.
Attempts to reach Kuhr, including calls after hours to his former company, were unsuccessful. He was paid an annual salary of $153,000, according to state payroll records compiled by the Empire Center for New York State Policy.
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