When a friend asked that I watch the Sullivan County recording of its September 14 Health and Human Services meeting, I was reluctant. This past year I’d come to believe festering problems with …
When a friend asked that I watch the Sullivan County recording of its September 14 Health and Human Services meeting, I was reluctant. This past year I’d come to believe festering problems with this county legislature could only be addressed by voters. But because she’s braver and smarter and I value her opinion, I obliged.
Readers, however, should have none of it from me; the recording speaks for itself.
“Accountability” is often uttered by the ruling majority on this legislature: for taxpayers, for residents in our adult care center and for county families grieving loved ones lost to the profit-driven opioid addiction brainchild of the Sackler family and pharmaceutical company beneficiaries. The latter was the focus of the meeting.
Think, however, astronomy and black holes where accountability goes to die, and you get an idea of how large sums of county opioid settlement and related grant monies received months ago have yet to be disbursed or adequately attended by this legislature under the stewardship of Chairman Doherty.
Think ballet, and you get an idea of how much dancing between the raindrops of accountability was on display at the meeting.
Think families tormented by our county’s opioid epidemic and related death rate—the single greatest threat to public safety and highest in the state (by far) respectively, according to experts at the meeting and New York State figures—and you get an idea of how serious it is that no legislator could explain why targeted funds aren’t being effectively disbursed.
At best, so far as anyone can tell, for months they’ve failed to shepherd disbursement through an internal approval bureaucracy. At worst, disbursements were intentionally delayed for ulterior motives touched on at the meeting. More on that below.
Nevertheless, it’s to Mr. Sorensen’s credit that he leaned into resolving the issue, hopefully soon. It’s to his discredit, however, that he and the others were AWOL, and, as my legislator, his failure of leadership in any sustained way over his tenure will mark his legacy.
Committee chair Mr. Salamone shared his views of who’s to blame—of course, not him—and Mr. Brooks assured everyone how he values all county partners working on the addiction problem—nice, of course, but won’t get the job done.
Then there’s the county contract for addiction services (already rendered) and why the county hasn’t honored it, we’re told, because it doesn’t comply with the law. Yet when an astute member of the public asked how such a thing can be when we have a county attorney, the answer couldn’t escape the black hole.
Orbiting back to Mr. Doherty, who’s often promoted his firm command of the ship of county affairs, surely he’d provide an adequate accounting of why the disbursement of such critical funds has been sucked into the vortex.
Dave Colavito lives in Rock Hill, NY.
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