Conflict Of Interest Concerns Arise In BWL Investigation - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

Conflict Of Interest Concerns Arise In BWL Investigation

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The man leading the effort to review the Lansing Board of Water and Light's response to the December ice storm has ties to BWL CEO J. Peter Lark, and some customers are concerned about how that could affect the investigation.

Brigadier General Michael McDaniel and Lark both worked for the attorney general's office, and a spokesman for General McDaniel said the two are friends, in the broadest sense. "Any type of relationship they may have had in the past, and again, it's been a cursory relationship, will not impact this process, and all we can ask the public to do is trust us," said TJ Bucholz. "The general is absolutely committed to ensuring that this top-to-bottom review is not influenced by any external factor."

However, some customers said this could present a conflict of interest.

"It is an issue that does concern me that there is a past relationship and friendship there," said Ryan Sebolt, BWL customer and an outspoken critic of BWL's response. Sebolt applied to be a part of the task force investigation, and said he wants to see the panel will consist of both supporters and detractors of the utility. "I would hope that there would be people who are vocal critics along with people who are supporters," said Sebolt, who said he is trying to remain positive as the investigation moves forward. "I think that the general definitely has the ability to be objective…I know that there's a lot of skepticism from people on that, and I think rightfully so. We've seen a lot of what I would call ‘botched communication' coming out of BWL."

McDaniel's team said the board will comprise experts, officials and community members with a wide range of responses to the crisis, and critics will be included.

Emerald Morrow is a reporter with WLNS-TV. Like her on Facebook, Follow her on Twitter or email her at emorrow@wlns.com.

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