Breaking: Lark’s emails ‘discovered’

By Andy Balaskovitz
Lark and BWL spokesman Steve Serkaian at a media opp during the ice storm. City Pulse file photo.

BWL releases emails from general manager during the storm outage it said it didn’t have

Thursday, Feb. 20 — Turns out Lansing Board of Water and Light’s general manager, J. Peter Lark, does have emails from the December power outage.

Documents delivered to City Pulse from the BWL this morning show a series of emails between Lark and BWL managers and commissioners, among others.

City Pulse requested the documents in a Freedom of Information Act request dated Jan. 3. The BWL denied that request.

“Upon consideration of a (FOIA) appeal from another media outlet, records that were responsive to your FOIA request … were discovered,” a letter says from Brandie Ekren, the BWL’s assistant FOIA coordinator.

The emails largely show BWL managers informing Lark of outage areas and requests for service.

The documents do not show any email correspondence between Lark and Mayor Virg Bernero. Additionally, the documents include a couple of emails between Lark and City Councilwoman Carol Wood between Dec. 23 and 26, though Wood has given City Pulse over 200 pages of emails between her and Lark and BWL spokesman Steve Serkaian over the period of the outage.

None of Lark’s emails indicate that he was in New York over Christmas visiting family.

One email from Serkaian on Dec. 26 explains how he wants to set up a media opportunity at a home without power.

“Folks: I want my story tomorrow to be at a home that has its power line down, but also has a downed mast. Perhaps we could find an electrician that is repairing a mast. As you can see by the latest press release, we have to prepare our remaining customers on what to do to help us restore their power. And the media will help us do it.”

Lark responded to Serkaian nearly two hours later: “Good work. Thank you.”

One email from Michael McDaniel, later appointed chairman of the Community Review Team investigating the utility’s storm response, on Christmas Day to BWL employee Mark Matus thanks line crews’ service at his house.

“As of right now, we still don’t have service, they were working very hard,” McDaniel wrote. And, it tore up our yard, as they had to get a truck back to the transformer, but (BWL supervisor Ron Burns) volunteered to have a crew come out in spring w (sic) dirt and grass seed.

“Great job by a very professional crew.”

The email was forwarded to Lark, who replied: “Thanks.”