The public benefit corporation that runs Nassau University Medical Center has agreed to a multiyear extension of its contract with president and chief executive Victor Politi, although the board declined to release a copy of the contract, its terms or a description of the new deal.
The only terms made public were read into the record before the Nassau Health Care Corp. board voted last Thursday night to renew Politi’s contract from July 31 through Dec. 31, 2019, for an annual salary of $368,387, according to a video of the meeting.
Politi, a former acting Nassau County police commissioner and former deputy county executive who also is a physician, was appointed president of NHCC by the board in January 2014 and was approved by County Executive Edward Mangano. Mangano, a Republican, is not running for re-election this fall as he fights federal corruption charges.
Peter Clines, Nassau’s Democratic legislative counsel, said the deal includes an automatic two-year extension for Politi if the board does not take action to terminate the contract. A hospital spokeswoman said she did not have a copy of the contract but said the new deal includes a one-year extension.
Politi will be paid severance if terminated, but the amount was not disclosed.
Board member Warren Zysman abstained on the vote, alleging that newly appointed board member Bobby Kumar Kalotee had threatened him about the contract. Zysman asked that security escort him to his car “for my safety.”
But Kalotee, a native of India and a former Nassau Independence Party chairman, denied any threats and said Zysman may have misunderstood his accent. “I threatened nobody at all,” Kalotee said later.
Zysman could not be reached for comment.
Clines at the meeting asked for a copy of the contract, but was told there was no contract, according to the video of the meeting taken by Gaspare Tumminello, a Democratic aide who accompanied Clines.
Clines asked for its terms and was told there was no listing of them. He asked for a copy of the description provided to board members when they met behind closed doors to discuss the deal, but was told there was no written description.
Hospital spokeswoman Shelley Lotenberg did not address most questions about the contract or the alleged threat.
She said in a statement Friday, “The NHCC board of directors voted last night to approve the renewal for Dr. Politi’s contract through Dec. 31, 2019, based on his outstanding accomplishments over the last three and half years. It is the role and responsibility of the Board to address these matters based upon the corporation’s enabling legislation.” She said that Politi’s pay is below other hospital presidents in the area.
Lotenberg said in an interview the board has sole authority over executive pay and Mangano’s approval is not needed. “We’re not a county hospital,” she said. “We’re a public benefit corporation. It does not get county taxpayer funds.”
Nassau sold the hospital to the public benefit corporation in 1999 but is liable for more than $242 million in long-term debt if NHCC defaults.
The 15-member NHCC board is controlled by appointees of the political party in power at the county, currently Republicans.
Clines had asked that the contract discussion occur in public and that the board investigate the “threats and intimidation” alleged by Zysman.
But board counsel John Ciampoli said the contract was “a personnel matter. It should be decided in executive session.” Ciampoli also declined an investigation, saying, “It is my sincere hope that my friends will get along with my friends.”
Kalotee said Friday that Zysman misunderstood comments he made at a previous meeting. Kalotee said he received last-minute notification of that meeting, his first since he was reappointed to the board.
“I said on the record if they are doing something that is not legal, why did they not inform me about the meeting? Why didn’t they inform Newsday? Why didn’t they inform everybody? If they do not, that is a crime and I will call the proper authority to legally investigate.”
He said, “I didn’t threaten anybody individually. I said we must abide by the rules and regulations of the board.”