Lawmakers weigh in on nursing home data investigation

New York News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Nursing home data has been a source of frustration for the legislature for months now and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle seem to agree that an outside, independent investigation could help set the record straight.

“The Governor’s got more angles than a geometry book in terms of having him and his high level staff people give excuses. It’s gone beyond any excuses now, we’ve got to get the facts Governor,” said Senator Jim Tedisco.

Republican Senator Jim Tedisco and Republican Assemblyman Chris Tague are calling for Governor Cuomo to be stripped of his emergency powers. “I was one of the people who came out against the Executive Order to begin with. Who in their right mind would take someone who tested positive for COVID19 and put them in a nursing home where you already have vulnerable individuals,” said Assemblyman Tague.

“We had to go all the way to not just FOILing, but waiting six months then have a lawsuit and have Judge Kimberly O’Connor say you violated the Open Government law and then the Attorney General says it’s a 50 percent undercount, so this should have taken place months ago,” said Senator Tedisco. Additionally, Tedisco told News10 he believes the Governor should resign. 

Senator Tedisco is also proposing new legislation to create a criminal penalty for violating New York’s Freedom of Information Law, rather than just a slap on the wrist.  “There would be a financial penalty, plus whatever legal and lawyer fees and we’re looking at a Class B misdemeanor, which could be up to ninety days in jail and when you talk about that for a Governor or administrator, they’re probably going to have to resign,” said Senator Tedisco.

Republican Assemblyman Chris Tague said the Governor’s Emmy Award should be vacated as well. “He shouldn’t have been out there to win an Emmy and he sure as heck shouldn’t be out there profiting off a book when 15,000 New Yorkers died. By the way, I feel that when all is said and done that number of 15,000 may increase,” said Assemblyman Tague.

Democratic Assemblyman John McDonald agreed that it makes sense at this point to scale back emergency powers “as long as we do it in a thoughtful way that doesn’t negatively impact vaccine distribution or the measures in place that have been protective for those who are struggling right now,” said McDonald. 

He added that he did not think it was appropriate to draw any conclusions on how this investigation would play out.  “I think the Department of Health was working in earnest to try to give accurate numbers, but because of that fact that there’s been such a long period of time where there seemed to be the appearance of stonewalling, to the point where the Empire Center had to go through a lengthy FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) process, it does let peoples’ minds wander,” said Assemblyman McDonald.

Senator Neil Breslin said while he does think everyone should take a step back and wait for more information, he would have appreciated more transparency. “We gave the Governor authority to act on our behalf because of the nature of the virus, but impliedly, at least, it’s his obligation to report back to us fully and honestly,” said Senator Breslin. 

“As much as I think the Governor has done some good things during the pandemic and really has demonstrated some strong leadership, and actually for awhile had won over the hearts and souls of America, not just New York State, that is being tarnished right now. Whether it will be a tarnish that remains or whether it’s a tarnish that eventually can polish up and move away I don’t know it’s hard to predict that,” said Assemblyman McDonald. 

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