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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

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2012: OPWDD’s DodgeBall

Courtney Burke’s Unprofessional DodgeBall

At the April 23, 2012 hearing in Albany, a person characterized as a “whistleblower”  on behalf of the disabled in NYS, a Mr. Jeffrey Monsour, attended the a roundtable meeting, which it seems he had the right to attend.  Apparently Courtney Burke steamed out, was nailed in the hall by a variety of reporters, and she did an incredibly poor job of standing for anything, of answering questions of the public, of justifying her actions or of even extending basic courtesy to those with a “right to know.”  And she left Gov. Cuomo “set up”  for the next round.

Her inability to answer a direct question can be seen on the TimesUnion link shown below.  Be sure to watch it.  This is the incompetency and evasiveness with which we are dealing.  We are not surprised by this indicting video; Burke has consistently shut down the input from our own community, and isn’t it her offices and / or employees who are behind hiding some of the transferees from the Middlesex from those who had a prior relationship with them?  (see Lynn Lersch’s recent report; e.g.)

To get a sense of Burke’s incompetency in action, and by her failure to own up to the facts and to her responsibilities,  visit the “Capitol Confidential” video blog at:



Notice her deer-in-the-headlights look as Burke tries to sidestep the questions, or change the subject.  She comments about  “… with all these cameras around!”  (Oh, wow!)

Then she adds a throwaway comment on “sensationalized news coverage,” which was seized on by the reporters. Clearly Courtney Burke has no understanding of how to address the media, but comes across as a petulant little debutante with no sense of leadership or owning up to her responsibilities.

And this is the person to whom NYS entrusts over 100,000 of its most vulnerable?   She is fast becoming a liability to Cuomo, who can still get out of the mess he’s made of NYS’s mental health obligations by cutting the ingenue loose.

The video is online courtesy of Kyle Hughes of NYSNYS, of  Burke briefly talking with the press “as she beats a hasty retreat” from Sen. Roy McDonald’s forum on treatment of the disabled after speaking to the panel for about 10 minutes.  To understand better what you are viewing, here are highlights from the accompanying article:

Quotes from the Times Union Editorial:

“The controversy over …  roundtable on abuse continues to erupt, with reports showing up in newspapers all over the State and even outside of the State.  The roundtable was held by Senate Mental Hygiene Chair Roy McDonald.”

“Perhaps more than any other commissioner in state government, Courtney Burke should know the value of a whistle-blower.  Many of the problems that Jeffrey Monsour exposed over the years are the very sort that Ms. Burke is now trying to clean up.”

“If only for the sheer symbolism, [she] could have underscored her commitment to turning around a troubled agency by welcoming the opportunity to sit at the same table with Mr. Monsour … at a state Senate-sponsored forum. She could have shown a shared, top-to-bottom sense of mission. She could have encouraged more people like Mr. Monsour to speak out. And, beyond just the appearances, she and the Senate panel might have heard more problems and ideas from a worker on the front line.  Instead, her office sought to shut Mr. Monsour down, asking the committee not to invite him, and changing its mind only after the press got wind of it.   The agency railed, too, against the forum itself, suggesting a panel with certain critics isn’t a proper venue for solving problems.”

“Topics include whether or not anyone in her office described coverage of its work as “sensationalism” (questions posed by the Times’ Danny Hakim, who has reason to take umbrage at such a characterization), what that word means to her, and just what led up to her office’s request that an OPWDD whistleblower should be disinvited from appearing at the forum.”

Burke repeatedly cited “communications breakdown,” showing her very think skin and lack of ability to handle questions about her own job.


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