• Rich Klein

IS CREATION OF LDC TO SELL CARE CENTER JUST A PLOY?

With Rob Doherty unconvinced and unmoved by the pleas of many residents not to sell The Care Center at Sunset Lake, the question now becomes if he has the votes to move the process forward.

Who is in Doherty's corner? Vice Chair Michael Brooks and legislators George Conklin III, Nicholas Salamone Jr.. That makes four votes.

Based on prior comments, it appears the crucial fifth vote will most likely come from Majority Leader Alan Sorensen. (Legislators Joe Perrello, Nadia Rajsz and Luis Alvarez have gone on the record opposing the resolution and one source says Legislator Ira Steingart is also going to oppose it).

The idea to create a Sunset Lake Development Corporation that's at the heart of the resolution was clearly a way for Doherty and the County to circumvent the legislative process to sell the facility.

That's because if the actual SALE of the Care Center was put to the Legislature, it would require six votes in favor instead of the five needed for the current resolution.

And let's look at this LDC. Why is Brooks on the three-member LDC and why is Assistant County Manager Michelle Huck on it, too? Local attorney Bill Chellis is the third person on the LDC.

It's obvious that Brooks and Huck will do what Doherty and County Manager Josh Potosek say, respectively, in terms of who the facility gets sold to. There is not one representative of The Care Center staff nor residents' families on the new corporation board. That is not only a slap in the face to the public but smells deeply of corrupt intent.

Finally, it's interesting that Doherty now says there are nine parties interested in purchasing The Care Center. Yet, that was only mentioned AFTER The SullivanTimes identified The Grand Healthcare System had made a presentation to the County in recent weeks. The Grand's CEO Jeremy Strauss on Friday told The SullivanTimes that although he has never toured the Care Center, he remains very interested in purchasing it.

If there are nine entities interested in purchasing the Care Center, Doherty and Potosek should immediately release the eight other names so the public can evaluate them. That way the public can perform its due diligence while the Legislature does its own.

And, what's so ironic about Doherty mentioning the nine companies is that it was supposed to fall to the development corporation to market the sale of the facility and then speak with and decide on a winner. It says as much in the resolution. It reads:

"The LDC will be overseen by three members of the community, appointed by the County Manager, and they will be tasked with carrying out the bonding and finding a real estate firm to market the Care Center. They then will choose the most responsible party interested in the Care Center and initiate a sale. Selection criteria will include not just the offer price but the track record of the buyer and the quality of care they promise to provide."

So, it's increasingly clear that this LDC is just a SCAM entity for Doherty to control the outcome.

And you have to wonder why Doherty is such in a rush to push this through.

Is it really about the Care Center's $3.5 million operating deficit - that's part of the much bigger $22 million deficit that the County faces - or does he stand to gain some other benefit from the entity that is picked? You can't ignore the fact that The Grand Healthcare System, for example, has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the campaign coffers of the sheriff in Dutchess County, where The Grand has a facility. Then, the Grand named a wing of the facility after that sheriff.

IF Doherty is not going to let the public have a real voice in deciding IF the Care Center gets sold, the least he can do at this point is to be transparent about who he has spoken with besides The Grand and Achieve Rehab, which publicly stated its interest.

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