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April 18, 2013

County clears way for Manor hearing

(Continued)

The privatization effort is also opposed by the Civil Service Employees Association, the bargaining unit for unionized county workers, including the Manor staff.

Mark Kotzin, a CSEA spokesman, said the union will consider waging a court fight against the county if it moves forward with the plan to create the LDC.

“LDCs are an improper way of getting rid of public property, not to mention they are basically a tool to rid the board of their responsibilities to conduct competitive bidding and to be open and transparent about the process,” Kotzin said.

He said the union’s “test case” against the creation of an LDC to sell a nursing home is its pending lawsuit against Onondaga County.

Coccoma advised county representatives that she has inquired of colleagues familiar with another CSEA lawsuit, one brought against Saratoga County, and believes that litigation will fail to stop the privatization of a public nursing home there. She said she has not evaluated other legal actions the union has brought against counties.

Lindberg urged approval of the LDC, saying the spiraling subsidy the county provides to the Manor could eventually lead to the nursing home being shut down and county coffers being drained.

“The county will go broke,” he said. “There’s not much money left.”

Rep. Kathleen Clark, R-Otego, the chairwoman of the Board of Representatives, said in an interview that she plans to support the creation of the LDC. She said she could predict how her board colleagues will vote on May 1.

She said she believes the LDC is the best way to protect the Manor from closure, and should help ensure that the party that buys the nurisng home is committed to quality care. “We want to consider more than just getting the highest price,” Clark said.

Wilcox, a retired writing instructor, said the push to privatize the Manor and other public nursing homes across New York is a symptom of “morally bankrupt” national policies that place a higher priority on military spending than on caring for frail senior citizens in need of nursing care.

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