Local officials blast Cuomo administration after new nursing home reporting

In this Sept. 14, 2018 file photo, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa, is joined by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as she speaks to reporters during a news conference, in New York. De Rosa, Cuomo's top aide, told top Democrats frustrated with the administration's long-delayed release of data about nursing home deaths that the administration "froze" over worries about what information was "going to be used against us," according to a Democratic lawmaker who attended the Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021 meeting and a partial transcript provided by the governor's office.

Editor’s note: Thursday night’s bombshell report by the New York Post regarding the withholding of information regarding nursing home deaths by the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo set off a firestorm of angry reactions from both parties that continued well into Friday. Below are a selection. Read more in Saturday's edition of The Palladium-Times:

Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, R-Pulaski

“The report that Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office intentionally concealed information is hardly surprising, but there must be accountability. It seems every decision coming out of the governor's office is about ‘Team Cuomo’ protecting its own image and own interests. More than 15,000 seniors died in nursing homes and adult-care facilities, but the governor was clearly more worried about a Department of Justice investigation and political finger-pointing. Public health took a back seat to public relations. This administration intentionally withheld information from the public, from the press, from lawmakers and from the thousands of families who lost loved ones.

This is why closed-door conversations won't cut it. If this episode doesn't make it painfully obvious that we need to issue subpoenas and hold public hearings, I don't know what will.”

State Sen. Patty Ritchie, R-Heuvelton

“Like many others, I was stunned to learn of the governor’s top aide’s private admission that the administration deliberately withheld data about COVID-19 deaths in New York’s nursing homes. I know though what I feel pales in comparison to the heartbreak, anguish and betrayal that continues to be felt by the loved ones of more than 15,000 men and women who tragically died in elder care facilities.

For nearly a year, lawmakers and family members have been pleading for answers. Instead of being transparent, it is now clear the governor and his administration opted to do what was politically convenient. The full truth needs to be uncovered and the only way that will be accomplished is through an independent investigation. We need to ensure a tragedy of this magnitude never happens again and equally as important, we need to obtain justice for thousands of grieving families across New York.”

State Senator Joe Griffo, R-Rome

“The news accounts that are being reported are troubling and disturbing, and again demonstrate the perils of one-party control of state government. During the coronavirus pandemic, we have seen the executive misrepresent and not present important, factual and real-time information and a refusal to distribute complete, accurate and needed data. Unfortunately, the majorities in the Legislature are being co-opted or complicit and are not willing to execute or interested in executing their constitutional responsibility for oversight, which is a complete abdication and dereliction of their duties. There must be a genuine effort to uncover the truth.”

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Westchester

“Crucial information should never be withheld from entities that are empowered to pursue oversight. This was always about getting the truth and allowing information to guide our response. That is why we had multiple hearings and another hearing scheduled for this month.  And why we requested this information in the first place. Politics should not be part of this tragic pandemic and our responses to it must be led by policy, not politics. As always, we will be discussing next steps as a conference."

State Senator John Mannion, D-Syracuse

“The governor’s lack of transparency and stonewalling regarding his administration’s nursing home actions is unacceptable.

Emergency executive powers granted to manage the COVID-19 crisis are no longer needed or deserved. We must immediately reestablish proper legislative oversight through public hearings with witnesses under oath. It is the legislature’s duty to New Yorkers to establish a truthful timeline and accounting of what occurred. Every New Yorker deserves honesty from their government and there must be an accurate historical record. Inaction is simply not an option.”

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