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  • Rich Klein

EDITORIAL: Government of the People, by the People, for the People? Not the SC Legislature

"Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth." - Abraham Lincoln, Republican president of the United States of America.

Well, apparently the Republican-led County Legislature doesn't care about the people and it continues to show that it can't govern effectively.

And now it wants to privatize essential mental health services and opioid treatment.

This is what Health & Family Services Commissioner John Liddle said about the idea in a news release issued by the County this afternoon:

“This is part of our serious intent to significantly improve our health rankings. In particular, the demand for mental health services is outpacing our capacity to deliver – and that demand is increasing. If we can expand and improve access to care in a more responsive, flexible manner, I want to know about it. And if that saves taxpayers’ dollars in the process, so much the better.”

Sorry, John, but if the County health rankings are at the bottom in New York State, it's not because of the hard working government employees. It's because the County Government leadership has failed to make the decisions necessary to stop the bleeding for years.

And Legislature Chair Rob Doherty talks a good game about "saving taxpayer dollars" but he's full of it.

Example 1: The County is shelling out $30,000 a month for Infinite Care to take over administrative needs of the Care Center at Sunset Lake. That's before the lame and botched attempt to entirely transfer the Care Center into the hands of Infinite Care, which doesn't yet have approval from the State Department of Health. (Infinite Care's track record in Ulster County is questionable).

Example 2: The County is paying tens of thousands of dollars to a high-powered Albany lawyer/law firm to defend a defamation lawsuit on behalf of loudmouth Doherty, who is being sued by fellow legislator Luis Alvarez. By the way, the County refuses to tell you how much it is costing to defend Doherty.

And as Doherty, Liddle, (County Manager Josh) Potosek cry "poverty" the fact is that Sullivan will very soon be receiving $14.6 million from Washington under the American Rescue Plan Act. At the same time, every municipality in Sullivan will also get funding under the Act, thereby taking additional financial pressures off of the County.

So the County can't hire more staff for mental health services and opioid treatment with SOME of that new found cash?

If it can't, then the County Manager and Health Commissioner should be fired and Doherty should resign.

And here's the best part:

"If the County decides to move forward with a third-party provider, County employees of DCS will be kept apprised of the progress and will have opportunities to meet with that provider to explore employment offers. If no offer is forthcoming, employees will be given time and assistance to seek other employment, including potentially in other County offices."

Get ready for mass layoffs of those in the Department of Community Services, who commit themselves to helping others and saving lives.

Do you really think some outside provider, typically from far beyond our borders, is going to have the same level of sincere concern for residents as those committed County employees who are caring for their neighbors?

It appears that $14.6 million can go a long way in quickly getting more staff to deal with these critical societal issues.

But Doherty must have other ways in mind to waste the $14.6 million that we don't know about yet. He's not "saving the taxpayer" but "shafting the taxpayer."


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