Letters: Don't blame Foley home's champions

The John J. Foley Skilled Nursing, which closed The John J. Foley Skilled Nursing, which closed last month. (March 27, 2013) Photo Credit: Doug Kuntz

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Newsday's rush to assign blame for the unnecessary closure of the John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility on those who opposed its sale shockingly endorses corruption in government under the guise of "process does not matter" ["The sad lessons of Foley," Editorial, July 14].

Although reasonable people may argue about the merits of privatizing municipal services, there should be total agreement that embracing the Bellone Doctrine -- seemingly, that process does not matter -- repudiates the principles that have governed the conduct of government officials since the founding of our nation.

As James Madison said, "If men were angels, no government would be necessary." We avoid the abuse of governmental power by following the rule of law.

Process is the rule of law. Abandoning process is to adopt the law of the jungle. If process does not matter, then why are six federal, state and local agencies investigating the award and payment of contracts related to the superstorm Sandy cleanup?

Although the Newsday-News 12 investigation of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone's attempted sale of the nursing home speaks for itself, the most obvious example of how abandoning process harms taxpayers was the $1,013,886 that county officials agreed on for upgrades to the facility, one month after signing a contract in July 2012 that required the buyer to accept the facility in its present condition. This alone justifies the conclusion that the only thing worse than the current state of affairs would have been to consummate a sale undermined by a flawed process.

If process had been followed, then the county would have used the actual county subsidy for the nursing home of $3.35 million per year, as certified by the independent nonpartisan Legislative Office of Budget Review, rather than the political figure of $12 million per year that was computed by county executives who artificially inflated the calculation of the subsidy by reducing the patient count; the sale would have been approved by at least 12 members of the county legislature, rather than the 10 votes it received; and Suffolk's own attorney would not have acknowledged that there is no statutory basis "for the type of sale contemplated in the Foley transaction."

Instead of attacking Legis. Kate Browning (WFP-Shirley) and John M. Kennedy Jr. (R-Nesconset) for standing up for the rule of law, Newsday should cite them as role models who are owed a debt of gratitude for blocking the sale!

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Paul Sabatino II, Huntington Station

Editor's note: The writer is a former counsel to the Suffolk County Legislature and a former deputy county executive.


I was saddened to read about the closure of this nursing home, but I was shocked when I read Newsday's editorial about it.

How can you conclude that Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone deserves only a small fraction of the blame, when he decided to shut it down? And in a sick twist of logic, you label three of the nursing home's staunchest defenders the "real culprits" in this tragedy, blaming Legis. John Kennedy and Kate Browning and attorney Paul Sabatino, for trying to save the place from Bellone's bad policy and stubbornness.

Actually, the editorial sounded like one of Bellone's deputies dictated it, because it deceptively described the county executive's disregard for the patients, the people and the legal process as cutting "corners," when Newsday's own story said, "Records show the administration, in conducting the sale, failed to follow its own competitive bidding procedures, hired an unlicensed broker who worked for the buyers, and obtained an appraisal after the sales contract was signed."

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Howard Rosen, Huntington Station

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