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Committee votes to change local law

February 22, 2013

MAYVILLE — Some legislators are preparing to change the rules in order to sell the Chautauqua County Home....

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(62)

Carlaw

Feb-22-13 6:21 AM

If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything.

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caregiver

Feb-22-13 6:39 AM

Well all I can say is that if the Legislature is allowed to change laws just to get their own way then we're all in trouble. Whether or not you are for or against the sale of the Home the fact that our Legislators are going to change the law because they didn't have enough votes just goes to show how dirty politicians are and that regardless of the topic they may be voting on, anyone and anything is now fair game.

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FredoniaFred

Feb-22-13 8:33 AM

When 9 legislators or 36% of the legislature is blocking a sale that is wanted by 75% of the population, drastic measures are called for. The legislature is doing the will of the vast majority of the population.

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wiseup

Feb-22-13 8:33 AM

goog idea, now sell the home, this is the democratic process. You may not agree with the sale but the law is whatneeds to be changed!

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notalways

Feb-22-13 8:49 AM

This change will mean that which ever party has a majority can sell anything. Not just about the Home any more. This County Ex will stop at nothing to get HIS way. Makes you wonder why he is pushing such a desperate action? He will get what he wants with no regard for our future. In 20 years we will look back and see this is the vote the ruined our great county!!!!!

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DKexpat

Feb-22-13 8:50 AM

It takes only 51% to change a law requiring 75%?

Only in America...

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SmallTownSmallMind

Feb-22-13 8:53 AM

Not sure the description of "dirty politicians" is accurate, but the word "bullies" comes to mind. It seems to be a pattern in American politics that if the process doesn't benefit what you want, change the rules of the process. It happened with redistricting representative boundaries in many states and gun control in NYS. Don't like the outcome, change the rules.

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judeye

Feb-22-13 9:25 AM

Does anyone know why this law was put into place in the first place? What were the issues why the legislation felt the need to enact a law that would require a super majority in order to see County property?

I would love to see the history.

This votes is appalling. If you do not get your way, just change the rules? And people wonder why so many of our young people think this way?

By the way where do they keep getting this $9,000 a day loss every day figure? The report that we just paid $80,000 for disputes this specifically calling that the public has been mislead.

Investigative reporting is needed!! we need someone to investigate many of the issues regarding the HOME, the money, the true cost, and yes, the gas well!!

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lifetimeRes

Feb-22-13 9:34 AM

Nice if the vote don't go your way just change the rules.More back door dealing fits in with the rest of our Government.

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Benny1

Feb-22-13 9:36 AM

ion the interest of full disclosure I really don't care what we do with the home if we sell it i think its a bit shortsighted but not an earth shattering decision either way but.......

if our legislatures vote to change a law to sell a property they could not accopmplish legally under existing laws not because of some obscure regulation but because they didn't have the votes to accomplish it but get this they might have the votes to change the law, then regardless of your position on the home those voting for these two resolutions should be tarred feathered and voted out of office

if you're in favor of selling the home then get people to run for office, support them get them elected and get the votes required to sell it under county law - if you're against it see above just reverse the position.

Any one considered that this law exists to prevent the majority party (since thiers an odd number of legs there is awlays a majority) from selling valuable county assets cont...

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Benny1

Feb-22-13 9:39 AM

like maybe a nursing home or offie building etc to thier friends or political allies. Talk about not seeing the forest through the trees these laws exist for a reason work within the system - in most cases the ends DO NOT justify the means -

i thought greg edwards was a lock to be the first third term county ex.... but stuff like this and we will have some no name democratic hack beat him as county history has shown

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MachineHead

Feb-22-13 10:05 AM

Politically ambitious, County Executive Greg Edwards is determined to sell the Home, even going so far as undermining the value of the facility to make it appear that the home is a huge financial burden to county taxpayers.[6] For Edwards, selling the Home means crippling the unions: a feather in his cap, should he run for governor. Ed Cox, NY State GOP chair, recently touted Edwards as a good choice. After all, Edwards was Carl Paladino’s running mate for NY governor in 2010. Edwards’ ambitions hardly conflict with the State’s determination to drive counties out of health care.

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commentor

Feb-22-13 10:08 AM

In a Democratic Society it's majority rules. So let the majority rule. The people want the sale other than the few takers on this site. Put it up for public vote and see what the results are. As to selling to Avi there has been good and bad but no solid proof of bad.

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MachineHead

Feb-22-13 10:08 AM

Lack of Transparency Greg Edwards refused to be interviewed by Buffalo Independent Media Center. He’s forbidden hospital administrator Tim Hellwig from speaking with them. Nor will the Home’s financial officer, Colleen Wright, answer our questions. Both were appointed by Edwards.

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MachineHead

Feb-22-13 10:10 AM

The closest thing we have to an independent audit of the Home is the Center for Governmental Research (CGR) Report which was commissioned by the legislature at a cost of $80,000 to look at the financial state of the nursing home. On at least two key financial questions, the CGR’s figures were dramatically at odds with Edwards’. Don Pryor, director of the CGR study showed that on average the Home realizes a “surplus” of over $100,000 a year. Edwards claims the Home is costing taxpayers $9,000 a day. What does this mean? Edwards’ Karl Rove-like mantra is not meant to explain anything. According to the CGR Report, the Home has a $5 million fund balance and is not costing taxpayers any money. Edwards says that when the Home is sold for $16.5 million, the County will realize $6 million. Don Pryor counters that after costs are paid, the County will see only $600,000. Wild discrepancies. Note, the CGR is truly an independent research facility, not about to enter into a partisan fight.

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MachineHead

Feb-22-13 10:11 AM

Though we aren’t allowed access to the numbers, it appears that the agenda-driven Edwards is resorting to selling the Home to get a quick sum of cash to resolve other financial problems (in addition to the County Home) that have occurred during his tenure.

Sell and get off the Medicare hook A sizable number of people are under the impression that if the County Home is sold, the County won’t be required to make medicare payments. Not so. The tax bill will still be picked up by the county, but the money will go to the out-of-state private owner who doesn’t have to report his profits. As a publicly-owned home, money is returned to infrastructure and staff continuity, as a valuable part of the economic climate of the hard pressed North end of the county.

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MachineHead

Feb-22-13 10:12 AM

Ownership Those individuals with assets (houses, bank accounts, pensions etc.) surrender everything when they enter a nursing home. While this aspect of the story doesn’t compute with bottom-line politicians, there remains an important sense of psychological security and well-being for residents who feel that they are part of the ownership of their county home, as opposed to being a paying customer during the last years of their lives.

The politics Politically, the county is made up of 25 elected legislators: 13 GOP, 11 Dems, one Green. Standing up to Greg Edwards (R) are nine legislators: Lori Cornell (D), Bob Whitney (D), William Coughlin (D), Keith Ahlstrom (D), Tom DeJoe (D) Bob Duff (R), Shaun Heenan (D), Tim Hoyer (D) and Bob Scudder (R). [9]

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MachineHead

Feb-22-13 10:13 AM

If the above legislators had Edwards power (office), a variety of creative ways could be articulated to increase the viability of the Home. A populist legislator, with an understanding of the value of the ‘public commons,’ would point out that especially in this uncertain economic time, local governments should do all they can to preserve their much needed social institutions from the peril of the disaster capitalist free market. Cost cutting and revenue enhancements for the Chautauqua County Home proposed by the CGR report & the legislative ad hoc committee have not been implemented.

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MachineHead

Feb-22-13 10:14 AM

According to Republican leader legislator Larry Barmore none of the current county deficit can be attributed to the county home; according to legislator Chuck Nazzaro (budget expert), county property taxes will be reduced in the current budget (modestly). Government bias against government Over the past year the State has dispensed over $300 million in free tax money to private and non-profit nursing homes. These institutions don’t even have to match the grants they get, unlike the county nursing homes (Intergovernmental Transfer Grants - IGT grants). Note: the tax money (Health Care Efficiency and Affordability Law - HEAL grants now in stage 20) given to Lutheran Social Services Nursing Homes of Jamestown ($23 million) was more than enough to buy the publicly-owned Chautauqua County Nursing Home. It’s more money than the County Home has gotten in some 20 years.[10] People who say government can’t do it better shouldn’t be in government.

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MachineHead

Feb-22-13 10:14 AM

North County – South County divide. The southern end of the county is anchored by Jamestown; non-union residents tend to be hostile to keeping the Home; South county has a large number of not-for-profit nursing homes that give excellent care, as opposed to the north end of the county (Durkirk is the largest town) has very few nursing homes and none that are not-for-profit). The bulk of the population (hence greater representation) lives in the southern end of the county. The CGR Report did not significantly explore the economic impact on the North county, which would be severe – especially since two major businesses recently closed in the north end of the county.

Caveat venditor Though the CGR report was not commissioned to look into the qualifications of the proposed buyer, it expresses serious caution about the single buyer, prompting lawmakers to look carefully into problems that might arise if they sell to Avi Rothner.

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MachineHead

Feb-22-13 10:15 AM

Union Hostility Hostility to unions is a major factor in legislators’ capitulation to the drive to sell. Historically this hostility is fed by the (privately owned) media and organizations like the National Association of Manufacturers and now, the Chamber of Commerce[11]. So elected leaders – unsure of the real financial situation of the home and the county , trying to adhere to the wishes of their constituents (at least the vocal number of them) or their political party, become part of the ‘sell’ mantra.

Public indifference to the commons It will all go on the chopping block: nursing homes, schools, child care, prisons, highways, police, the military: all for sale. A public that doesn’t value its heritage over the capacity of private enterprise to take up the slack, is in danger of becoming irrelevant. What was once “commit to caring” (Steuben County nursing home motto) is now: Pay or Go Away.

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MachineHead

Feb-22-13 10:16 AM

“A tradition of caring since 1832,” proclaims Chautauqua County Nursing Home’s website. A one-hundred-and-eighty-year tradition out the window; the new tradition: profit. Eleven county nursing homes in NYS of forty-four were sold over the past several years. While the State provides matching fund grants to counties with publicly-owned nursing homes (called IGT grants), the so-called not-for-profit nursing homes are getting sizably larger grants from the New York State’s HEAL program ($301 million in 2012). One of those recipients was Jamestown’s Lutheran Social Services, which was given $23 million. These taxpayer-funded ‘grants’ enable privately owned and not-for-profit nursing homes to make improvements that publicly owned facilities are forbidden to make!

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MachineHead

Feb-22-13 10:17 AM

Journalists Roy Harvey and Karen Jane Engstrom Harvey founded Snowshoe Documentary Films in 2000. Karen was a photographer and photo editor with the Chicago Tribune for over 20 years, retiring in 1998. Roy retired in 1999, ending his career as a City of Chicago television producer. [3] As county governments strip themselves of the power to do anything but submit to those above, it will become much easier to implement such profitable enterprises as ‘fracking’ -- against an increasingly ill-informed and demoralized population. The phenomenon coheres with the UN’s ‘Agenda 21’ for America. [4] Shock Doctrine (The Rise of Disaster Capitalism), Naomi Klein, 2007, explains the mechanics of privatization. [5] Edwards and colleagues have indicated that they will change the rules, enabling the legislators to sell with a simple majority as opposed to the two-thirds majority which is now the law.

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MachineHead

Feb-22-13 10:17 AM

[6] An example of this “sabotage” is the gas well, a story touched on in “Don’t Sell Our County Home,” a 31-min. documentary available on YouTube. The gas well was installed three years ago at the expense of the home ($400,000); the well would have earned some $300,000 in revenue annually for the home, but the County Executive refused to have it hooked up. In effect, the County Home lost over $1 million (factoring County Home spent to install the well) over the past three years -- because of the County Executive.

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MachineHead

Feb-22-13 10:18 AM

[7] Legislators and the public are sold on the false notion that the State’s highly regulated inspection services ensure that private and not-for-profit nursing homes give quality care. [8] Our first video on the plight of the nursing home was posted Nov. 2011 on YouTube. As such, we were on record, from Edwards’ perspective, of giving the union (CSEA) side of the story. [9] The Center for Governmental Research (CGR) was commissioned by County legislators – at an agreed-upon price of $80,000 – to evaluate the viability of the home. After several months of study, the CGR issued its 130-page report. In effect, the CGR outlined ways the County could bring its financial contribution down to $500,000 to $1.3 million, costing homeowners between $6 and $17 per year.

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