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Kent responds to Legislator Eick’s ‘unsubstantiated accusations’

Posted 19 September 2013 at 12:00 am

Editor:

Until now, Legislator William Eick’s involvement in the subterfuge surrounding Orleans County ’s determination to sell “The Villages” was purely official. He voted for it. The tactic of giving people distorted information in order to scare them into accepting something that is not in their interest has a new contributor.

With his letter on Sept. 17, he has decided to personally help mislead the public. Legislator Eick’s diatribe was loaded with unsubstantiated accusations and innuendo. But at least he put his name to a point of view.

Bill said that I complain about marketing. I have. It is interestingand you can check the minutes from mid-2010that shortly after he was discharged from “The Villages” rehab unit, Bill himself suggested that the County needed to better market its rehab unit!

Referring to me, he says, “He makes statements that lead me to believe that he (I) would have us cut Public Safety resources.” What in the name of Heaven is he talking about? Ironically, the “eliminate, or outsource, services regardless of their importance” path he and his mentor are on is far more likely to lead in the direction he is concerned about.

The Center for Governmental Research did come out with a study of County Nursing Homes in mid-August. It mentioned Orleans County oncein the Appendix on the second to last page. True enough, I have said the “due diligence” CGR goes to such lengths to stress in the study has been largely absent from our Legislature’s decision to sell Our County Nursing Home.

A careful reading of the study report strongly suggests Orleans is one of the counties with the greatest need for a county nursing home. We have one of the five fastest growing elderly populations of the 33 counties in the study.We have large numbers of “hard-to-place” people living here. There are few in-county alternatives for “hard-to-place” people requiring a skilled nursing facility. Those are three things CGR says should be considered in pre-sale “due-diligence.”

Let us not miss the point. CGR was not asked to do a study before the rush to sell. Even the general study Bill refers to came out six months after the Legislature’s decision!

Perhaps Bill’s most ridiculous statement concerned my desire to bring “convicted felons in to mingle with our senior citizens and Albion Central School students in order to get free labor, putting everyone at risk” That is an outrageous lie that would be laughable had he not put his name to it. “Bill” knows it. For starters, he has been on the Legislature long enough to know “The Villages” layout better than that.

Obviously, the Community As School program space would have to be relocated while the vacant “A” and “B” wings were renovated. The whole idea never even got enough consideration to go that far, but when I brought it up five years later, it certainly touched a nerve.

Legislator Eick says, “The Villages” is nearly full.” What does that mean? As a Legislator he has easy access to the actual numbers. Why are they such a secret? The CGR report says to be viable, a county nursing home should have 97 percent occupancy, with 95 percent being “acceptable.” What is ours?

Along those lines, we couldn’t find out whether Orleans County charges the Nursing Home Enterprise fund for services provided by other County departments, as 52 percent of counties do.We couldn’t find out because Orleans apparently didn’t answer that question when responding to the CGR survey. Why the secrecy?

Another of Bill’s allegations had to do with asbestos abatement.How did Buildings and Grounds handle that in The Board of Elections space? I doubt the County is exposing Elections employees to asbestos hazards.

To be clear on one last point, sir, keeping our County-controlled long term care facilityand our commitment to our frail elderlycould become too costly at some point.Let me know when that cost gets to be greater than the cost of garbage disposal.

Let me assure Legislator Eick that he is not alone. There are large numbers of really unhappy people in Orleans County.

Gary Kent
Albion

(Kent is a candidate for Orleans County Legislature. He is endorsed by the Democratic Party and is also running under the independent “Save Our Nursing Home” line.)