County Legislature rescues nursing home and crime victims
center from Breslin’s axe
Every year, it’s a little bit like the good-cop-bad-cop game.
First, Albany County Executive Michael Breslin unveils his
budget. Then, the Albany County Legislature rejects it—especially
the parts that draw the most criticism from constituents.
In the end, the legislature puts the controversial bits back
into the budget and rides off into the sunset.
This year, those critical elements were the Albany County
Nursing Home and Crime Victim and Sexual Violence Center.
In an attempt to save money, the county executive had targeted
both for closure.
Breslin’s preliminary 2011 budget would have slashed funding
for the Crime Victim and Sexual Violence Center by 20 percent.
Adults in crisis would have been cut loose after 12 free therapy
visits. CVSVC supporters petitioned throughout the fall. They
argued that many victims can’t afford private therapy and
switching therapists midstream is counter-productive.
In response, the lawmakers— led by Bryan Clenahan (D-Dist.
30)—unanimously passed a resolution on Dec. 6 to keep the
agency fully funded. Breslin’s version of the budget “would
cripple the center, reduce if not eliminate many of its essential
services, jeopardize its current and future grant funding
and likely lead to its closure,” the resolution stated.
am happy about the resolution,” said center advocate Janice
Irwin. “I hope it will stand up to any of the county executive’s
future attempts to dismantle the Albany County Crime Victim
and Sexual Violence Center. As for the budget, I am sad that
CVSVC is now down one therapist and a deputy director.”
Breslin also wrangled with the legislature over the Albany
County Nursing Home. Once again, the facility would have closed
or been put up for sale under Breslin’s preliminary 2011 budget—a
move the legislature already stopped in 2010.
A group of citizens lobbied long and hard for the nursing
home—especially county residents who didn’t want their loved
ones staying out of comfortable visiting range.
On Dec. 6, the legislature passed the modified budget by a
margin of 36 to 2, but Breslin quietly vetoed the county budget
on Dec. 10. With only 26 votes needed to override a veto,
the legislators were poised for an override vote on Dec. 14.
However, Breslin took back his veto, stating that the legislature
“has acknowledged the need to address cost control at the
Albany County Nursing Home.”
After last minute, behind-the-scenes negotiations between
Breslin and legislative leaders, the nursing home will stay
open, a new one will be built, and only 33 county employees
face layoffs instead of 511.
I was faced with a deadline of . . . Friday, Dec. 10, to file
budget vetoes, my further review and continuing discussions
with the leadership of the county legislature allow me to
rescind that decision,” Breslin stated. “This budget, as it
stands, includes the downsizing of staff to levels more closely
aligned with today’s need. This development has helped persuade
me that a 200-bed nursing home is feasible and desirable in
Legislative leaders were negotiating for days on behalf of
the caucus, right down to the wire, acknowledged Gary Domalewicz
(D-Dist. 11), the Legislature’s nursing home committee chairman.
been a long time since we had a veto from the county executive,”
he said. “We’re glad everything worked out. It’s going to
be nice having everybody on the same page.”
Legislator Brian Scavo (D-Dist. 7) described the dynamic between
Breslin and legislative Majority Leader Frank Commisso with
a line from his favorite flick—The Godfather.
made Breslin an offer he can’t refuse,” Scavo said.
So what did the executive get out of the deal? The legislature
reinstated three administrative positions that were set to
be cut from the executive’s staff—two budget analysts and
the deputy commissioner of human resources.
The lawmakers also authorized the Albany County Sheriff’s
Department to fill six deputy positions and gave other departments
the go-ahead to fill key part-time positions.
left the sheriff’s department alone and the district attorney’s
office and gave them everything they needed,” Scavo said.
“They chopped almost everywhere else.”
In return, at an estimated cost of $81 million, construction
of a new nursing home is planned near the Albany Airport on
the former site of the Heritage Park baseball diamond, next
to the existing nursing home on Albany Shaker Road.
sell the old one when the new one is complete,” said Domalewicz
. “It’s going to be a green, state-of-the-art showcase for
nursing homes in the state.”
The current home has enough double rooms to accommodate 500
residents, although it is only half full. The new home will
boast single rooms, with space for 200 residents, including
50 assisted-living beds and 10 ventilator beds.
The county will put the building and design work out to bid.
It will take about one and a half years for the county to
break ground and build the new structure, including six months
for design and as long as eight months for the state Health
Department to issue a certificate of need, which will give
the county access to grant money, Domalewicz said.
Meanwhile, using state and federal Medicaid reimbursements,
the county will keep the existing nursing home open for another
year. Breslin’s preliminary budget “didn’t count” $8 million
in intergovernmental transfers, $6 million of which will go
toward operating the nursing home in 2011,” Domalewicz said.
more we dug into the budget the more we found,” said legislative
Chairman Daniel McCoy (D-Dist. 10). “When all is said and
done, we’re finding millions that they hid on us. That’s why
we dug in.”
well-known ex-journalists, who both left significant imprints
on the Capital Region’s media landscape, were at the Open
Door Bookstore & Gift Gallery in Schenectady on Friday
(Dec. 17) to sign their books.
Ed Dague (left) was signing the memoir Six and Eleven:
A Television News Anchor’s Story. According to a press
release, the book is “a sage and penetrating look at the news
business in the Albany metro area, at the people and personalities
who both made and reported that news.” On his sharp, to the
point, and entertaining Times Union blog In Media Res, Dague
wrote, “It is a lot better than I expected.”
Lynch (right) was signing The Thunder of Captains: A Novel
of the Battle of Saratoga. The former editor, reporter
and columnist’s book was praised in Metroland last
summer for capturing the “gripping drama of the courageous
soldiers behind both lines,” and for its “rich descriptions
of life in colonial upstate New York.”
loose ends this week-