By ROY and KAREN HARVEY
OBSERVER publisher John D'Agostino in his March 23 column "Emotions key to Home campaign" attacked our film, "Don't Sell Our County Home" and the unions.
Contrary to what the publisher implied, Snowshoefilms was not engaged by unions to make the film. We have produced other independent films such as our 2009 series, "Save Westfield Memorial Hospital Emergency Room."
In looking into the County Home story, it was evident that the local media was largely devoted to the county executive's version of the story. We sought to understand the whole story, interviewing County Home residents and staff, union leaders, the county executive, and the public.
The publisher quotes an unnamed legislator who says, "Seeing this video and seeing the fear on the faces of those County Home residents really opened (his) eyes to what the CSEA is willing to do." The legislator implies that the documentary and CSEA is exploiting residents fears, when in fact it is the county executive who needlessly alarms not only County Home residents, but county taxpayers.
As we indicated in the documentary, inter-governmental transfer matching funds for the Home were scuttled, costing the Home nearly $1 million; the gas well (not hooked up) cost nearly a half-million. To make up the difference, the County Home dips into its reserve fund. It continues to operate on its own as an Enterprise Fund Project and gets no share of county taxes in 2012.
Does the local press report that no local taxes are being used to operate the County Home? Did they check the county budget? Have the local press reported the potential conflicts of interest within county government? If the local press accepts the figures handed out by the county executive, they are reporting the spin not the real story.
Do the local press report the well-documented fact that for-profit nursing homes are understaffed by underpaid and sometimes under-skilled caregivers? Is it reported that residents at for-profit homes are often neglected, abused, robbed and worse? Is it reported that profits will leave the area and taxes projected from a for-profit owner will possibly be deferred by yet another IDA PILOT?
Where is it reported that the negative economic impact of reducing living wages to minimum wage will increase the number of unemployed, welfare recipients, food stamp and Medicaid rolls in Chautauqua County?
Positive economic options exist: publicly run assisted living residences, a public-private partnership, expanded physical therapy, and many other ideas the County Home staff and the good people of Chautauqua County can come up with by using their creativity to determine a better outcome.
One thing the local press is consistent about is the non-stop ad hominem attack on the unions. The unions consistently defend the right of the Chautauqua County Nursing Home residents - the elderly, disabled and veterans to have quality care.
Roy and Karen Harvey of Snowshoefilms reside in Chautauqua.