Legislature should weigh all the facts with nursing home

Posted 13 August 2013 at 12:00 am

Dear Editor:

The Orleans County Legislature has a habit of secrecy, elitism and disdain for truth. Why, for example, are the exaggerated losses of Our County Nursing Home put on our January tax bills when other non-mandated services are not? We get inflated, unknowable numbers for one service and nothing for others. For 2011, the actual loss was, perhaps, one-sixth of what was tossed out there in January of that year.

The Legislature Chairman decided long ago that he knows what is best for Orleans County. He thought he knew in 2004 and 2005 and was quite wrong on both sliding scale senior property tax relief and the Nursing Home renovation. When his consultants told him in June 2011 that “The Villages” was doing relatively well, he cut them off in a public meeting, saying, “We don’t need to hear that.” In 2013, he and a couple of others were able to sweep aside veteran legislator George Bower’s objections to selling “The Villages of Orleans” (Our Orleans County Nursing Home).

Not one to be confused by information, the Chairman of the Legislature disdained the comments of all but one speaker at the February public hearing and plowed ahead with a vote to set up an LDC to sell “The Villages.”

How can the Legislature’s decision to set up an LDC be anything but arbitrary and capricious under such circumstances? Are public hearings merely something to be endured because six people know more that 42,000? No referendum was offered on the sale, though an elected body was transferring a significant amount of authority to a non-elected body. Is that okay because democracy is irrelevant in Orleans County?

A few years ago Genesee County had CGR (The Center for Governmental Research) do a study on the feasibility of continued county operation of its County Nursing Home. CGR, a non-partisan, 501 (c) 3, public interest advocacy group, offered specific suggestions for improving the bottom line. It recommended Genesee County not sell its Nursing Home, though it has recommended several others should be sold.

Why hasn’t a CGR study been done of “The Villages?” What is the Chairman afraid a widely respected, non-partisan, public interest advocacy group would find out? Why so much secrecy? Perhaps when you are certain what should be done, unloading a 180-year-old responsibility and priceless asset requires only the facts you choose.

Is it conceivable CGR might even recommend that “The Villages” not be sold? Due diligence? What is that? After deciding in advance of any real study, bringing in CGR might have been really embarrassing.

Supporters of the sale of Our County Nursing Home should consider all the facts.

Sincerely yours,

Gary Kent

(Mr. Kent is a Democrat-endorsed candidate for the County Legislature.)