Another Reprieve for Valley View

By Michael Kaufman

Well, the good news is that the Orange County Legislature Republican majority has been forced to put off voting on a new proposal to transfer the Valley View Center for Nursing Care and Rehabilitation to a local development corporation (LDC) for at least 30 days. The rumored defection of two or more Democratic legislators, which would have given County Executive Steve Neuhaus the supermajority he needs to move forward with the sale of Valley View, did not take place when the legislators met earlier this week.

“Simply put, the Democrats have held together,” noted Michael Sussman, the Goshen attorney who won a lawsuit filed on behalf of Valley View workers and residents who oppose privatization. “Absent the votes, the Republicans do not want to face defeat again and certainly do not want to pass a Local Law subject to permissive referendum. So the chair of the legislature has asked the head of the Rules Committee to pull this item from the October 2 meeting.” (A Local Law requires only a simple majority but can be challenged by a referendum, which would allow county residents to vote on whether Valley View will remain publicly owned or sold to a private operator to be run for profit.) Sussman said he “could not be more thrilled” by the victory although he is keenly aware it may be short-lived. “I know they will not give up.”

“I’ve never seen an obsession like the obsession to privatize Valley View, now in its eighth year,” says Pamela Chergotis, managing editor of the weekly Chronicle, which has been providing superb coverage (by Chergotis and investigative reporter Nathan Mayberg) on Valley View, as well as the ongoing government center fiasco, and other controversial local political issues. “The fever isn’t breaking,” adds Chergotis. “The tactic seems to be to just wear people down—journalists, activists, Democrats, and supporters alike.”

Chergotis herself was the victim of a mean-spirited attack by Neuhaus following the ruling by Orange County Supreme Court Justice Elaine Slobod invalidating the LDC he illegally appointed. “Steve said I put Valley View on the front page every week for six months (not true either) because my mother died in Valley View in February and ‘it’s personal for them.’ My mother died 12 years ago in New Jersey and as far as I know never stepped foot in Orange County.” In the same statement, reported in the Times Herald-Record, Neuhaus suggested that both the judge and Chergotis are “too emotional and too lacking in professional detachment to do their jobs.” Chergotis says some have suggested to her that “sexism is afoot.” Sexism on the part of a Republican elected official? Impossible!.

Meanwhile, expect Neuhaus to keep the pressure on Democrats to cave on Valley View by threatening massive layoffs of other county workers if Valley View isn’t sold.

Endnote—Certain events inevitably bring out my inner Yippie. Imagine if Abbie Hoffman were still with us and had received an invitation to a “Free Private Event” at the Renaissance Faire’s Peacock Pavilion hosted by Genting “to thank our Warwick and Greenwood Lake supporters” of their plans for a Sterling Forest Resort casino. The event will include live entertainment, dinner and an info session (“By privately funding a Thruway exit, hiring locally, and improving local parkland (!), we are committed to improving the region’s quality of life and financial stability.”) The shindig takes place Saturday, Sept. 20, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The catch is that you have to RSVP and present the invitation card at the “Will Call” booth. But Abbie would have found a way to get in even without the invitation.

Michael can be reached at

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3 Responses to “Another Reprieve for Valley View”

  1. Marshall Rubin Says:

    The fact there was a chance that two Democratic legislators would defect on the vote to sell Valley View points exactly to what’s wrong with Democrats in general. Unlike the Republicans who are persistent, even when their positions are unpopular, the Democrats are too often ready to abandon ship at a moment’s notice. On the national level the Democrats backed off on major progressive legislation even before the Republicans fired their first salvoes in 2010. Instead of single-payer we got Obama Care, with its emphasis on more affordable, but private, rather than government-run health care.
    Despite pledges to the contrary, it looks like ground troops will be in Iraq before long.
    Here’s hoping the Orange County Democrats remain strong. If they cave-in to lying scum like Neuhaus, the Dems may never achieve the kind of voter respect that could propel them to majority status. Don’t let the Democrats weasel out of their traditional commitments!

  2. esme Says:

    Thank-you for presenting a clear cut, concise reporting of the current status of Valley View. The pervasive corruption of this movement to sell this facility borders on something macabre. First the facility was deliberately financially massacred by a hatchet team called OAS. Then the Special Investigative Committee proved without a doubt that that there was a conflict of interest between the administrator Wm. Pascocello (uncle of Mr. Neuhaus’ press secretary Dain Pascocello), refusal to appear via subpoena to testify under oath, and no legal action taken. Now the facility is in a new phase. Running financially solvent with a new administrator, but still it must be sold to save the alleged deficit or now being threatened with closure once the new budget is released. The residents are being held hostage, being sold with the beds, furniture, equipment, supplies. And there is no guarantee that even if sold, they will be able to remain in Orange County. When was it common place to be corrupt and abuse the elderly and take away all their rights and treat them so inhumane. The residents have a champion in Mr. Sussman, but now the people will have to rise to the occasion, as they too will have need one day of a facility more interested in providing quality of care and not providing millions in profit to a private owner. Someone explain to me again why Valley View is really being sold.

  3. Michael Kaufman Says:

    Thanks Marshall and esme. You both make good points, the most important of which is that Orange County residents need to let the elected officials from both parties know exactly how they feel. Valley View is too important to our community to see it converted into a for-profit, private facility OR compromised in any way by a political deal that will limit its ability to provide quality services.

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