Letters to the editor January 14 to 20
[This letter was written after press time for January 7th’s edition.]
As the first week of the New Year limps along, I was not surprised to see that the Sunset Lake Local Development Corporation meetings on January 8 and 11 will not be open to the public. They plan to view presentations from four bidders to lease Sullivan County’s nursing home and/or Certified Home Health Care Agency (CHHA). Almost 1,000 county residents have signed petitions or letters indicating they do not support the sale or lease, and there have been continual events and media coverage, all in opposition. It’s no surprise that the public will be kept in the dark for these meetings, which are not recorded while in executive session.
How can this LDC be considered as an independent, impartial body from the county? The board membership includes the assistant county manager, a legislator, a county coroner (all paid positions) and Lowell Feldman as chairman, an expert in the privatization of nursing homes and a buddy of the chair of our legislature, who proudly champions this project. [Before joining the LDC,] Feldman asked to be considered an “interested party” for the sale during a public hearing on July 14, 2020. [Bill] Chellis, a real estate attorney and Presbyterian minister, is the only member who can truly be considered independent. While the LDC was supposed to have an independent attorney, it’s Sullivan County Attorney Michael McGuire who has been calling the shots. This is the committee entrusted with the safety of our nursing home residents, county employees, and the sick and vulnerable in our community, as well as with the taxpayers’ investment over the many years in these institutions. Two of the members and the county attorney are deeply embedded in county business and attend legislative meetings. There is not a single representative from the nursing home or CHHA. This board now holds the title and lease to the nursing home and can sell or lease it at its own will.
In a better world, in a better time, the public’s opinion should count for something. In a democracy, the public should be a part of decision making. Now, in Sullivan County, the clock is ticking by as “disinterested” parties rob us of our health resources behind closed doors.