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Monday, October 22, 2018

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2012: More Cuomo Stuff Rolls Downhill

In my opinion….

On this website we have been (understandably, we believe) critical of Michael Feeney, Director of the FLDDSO and of his boss, Courtney Burke, Commissioner of OPWDD.  With no apology for these well-deserved criticisms, we would nevertheless be remiss if we didn’t point out that “Stuff Rolls Downhill.”  The tsunami of Stuff rolling downhill is inordinate secrecy, and arrogantly bypassing those with 1) a legitimate right to know, or 2) a legitimate right of input, or 3) a legitimate right to decide.

In abridging those rights of others, any organization (and especially government) sets itself on an abusive track, no matter how “good” the results seem to be at first.  Such abuse of rights inevitably leads to mistrust, upheaval, disunion and injury.  Such happens when  Stuff rolls down from the governor’s office.  The beginning of a recent editorial in the Democrat and Chronicle said it well, although it missed the point in a few related areas in the rest of the article:

Cuomo kept the legislators in budget sessions in an all-night marathon, and one can reasonably ask if that is the best and most thoughtful way to pass legislation.

Moreover, “Sunshine Week” is a time to “celebrate?” open government, one which should be transparent to its constituents,  doing its deeds in the open (not at 5AM) and which first hears from the people.  Cuomo and his minions flunk on all counts.

He also seems not to hold himself accountable.  He made promises to veto any district maps not drawn by an independent panel, but backed off in the expediency of getting his way on legislation.  He calls it a “trade-off”.  Some call it reneging.

When a leader mainpulates, it deeply divides and injures trust, a most fragile quality needed for true leadership.  Another recent example of disrespecting the balance of powers is Cuomo’s setting up of independent healthcare exchanges, in spite of legislators’ desire to wait and see whether the Supreme Court overturns Obamacare or not.  Bypassing legitimate rights of the legislative branch with Executive orders is an abuse of power, and a wanton desire for immediate gratification, rather than due process. It is a dangerous trend.

Achievement of worthy goals is commendable.  Achievement of unworthy goals or of worthy goals by unworthy means is despicable.   The “means” are what is highly questionable.  In addition to questioning Cuomo’s secretive dealings, not in accord with his  promises, key meetings held in the middle of the night under absurd pressure, one has to question seriously the results.

What is the “Stuff” hidden in the middle-of-the-night budget with respect to cost cutting?   It will take a lot more study, but the results will doubtless sound like great budget slashing, and great advertising copy for Cuomo’s run for the presidency in 2016.   How much will be done with smoke and mirrors,  how much on the backs of the most needy and vulnerable, and how much at the expense of slashing payroll of the most competent care-givers to replace them with inexperienced low wage, high turnover employees?  You want some fries with your care?

Here are some places to look for the smoke and mirrors and more “Stuff”:

Privatization of care from well-trained employees to those with less training and knowledge.  Moving higher-risk occupants of the Monroe Developmental Center (which will close) into community group homes (aka “dumping people”),  putting the community at risk from behaviors which are not ready to move from a secured site to an “open” community environment, having no alternative with the MDC’s closing to remove problem individuals anywhere but to another less-secure community site (rather than into a higher care greater security site), not helping accommodate the 12,000 statewide who need care and aren’t receiving it, having to provide much more transportation for occupants of group sites to visit doctors, dentists, activity programs (at $4/gallon), cutting jobs of trained and experienced employees for an increase in unemployment costs or forcing early retirement on those who can’t find new employment, traumatizing individuals like the Middlesex group home occupants by moving them to varied sites and breaking up their home environment without proper process or paperwork, having less visibility into small and untrained care situations which can open the door to personal abuse, variable levels of care, less oversight, and the risk of the abominable practice of mixing inappropriate populations such as a sex offender in with people who might be easily exploited.  We will have much more to say on such matters in the future.

In the meantime, Gov. Cuomo does look like someone who is trying to emulate President Obama, much like a child copies his father by following him through the snow, leaping from one snowy footprint to the next.  In this case it is analogous “Stuff,”  by  trying to move control away from the legislature and into the hands of an apparently inexperienced commissioner (as Obamacare in the hands of Sebelius), passing laws under duress and pressure (as Obama’s pressuring Congress to pass his legislation on Christmas Eve),  moving occupants of the Middlesex IRA without following proper procedures and ignoring the legislature in establishing new healthcare exchanges (as Obama’s refusing to uphold valid laws like DOMA, Freedom of Religion, and/or his stopping  Arizona from protecting its border),  and more.  Sadly, it seems to be a case of Cuomo’s cloning himself as a copycat candidate for the next campaign, a ”bama-baby” at the expense of NYS.

And, in the hours after the budget was stuffed through, there was yet another copycat to add to the mix.  Even while the Supreme Court of the US contemplates striking down Obamacare, especially due to the individual mandate, Cuomo was playing up to Obama by pushing through his own me-too brand of mandate, over and in spite of his legislature’s prerogatives, by enacting through executive order “health exchanges.”  This is not to debate whether such exchanges may be good or bad, we each have our own opinions, but rather Cuomo is forcing through what is believed to be a mandatory insurance program, legislators and public be damned.

The people of NYS deserve much better; the people of Middlesex and of our Group Home deserved much better…. but the “Stuff” is still rolling downhill.  All, of course, in my opinion.  Comments are welcome.  Let discussion be encouraged.  Diane Harris

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