"A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have"
Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, February 7, 2009

An F(ulton) Grade for Aubertine

It is no secret Senator Aubertine abused the issue of the A.L. Lee Memorial hospital for political purposes. He is being called on it by the local paper in Fulton for just what it was; a bleak situation for residents and employees used by a politician for political gain.  Shameful!

Here is the reprint of the opinion piece from Valley News in Fulton NY.

Between the Lines: Aubertine and Lee Memorial: How a politician used a community


Ronald L. Caravan 02-07-2009

Ronald L. Caravan

With the elevated agonizing that is going on in the Fulton community now that we are incrementally losing A.L. Lee Memorial Hospital as we have known it for generations, we should not miss an important and immediate political object lesson the hospital saga peripherally provides. It is an apt and timely illustration of how a disingenuous politician will mislead and use a constituency with impunity and without conscience for his own political gain.

In order to digest what the object lesson has to offer, we must engage in something that American constituents are, for some odd reason, disinclined to do very much—look back in some detail at claims and promises a politician made about a specific issue during a campaign for office, then compare the campaign assertions with reality as it actually presents itself.

Where it comes to examples, we have a real dilly the way New York State Senator Darrel Aubertine used the Lee Memorial Hospital issue during last year’s election campaign.

Sometimes the line is rather fine between measured and appropriate use of an issue in a political campaign versus inappropriate and misleading claims. Where the Lee Memorial issue is concerned, Mr. Aubertine actually engaged in both; the way he engaged in the latter should give constituents throughout the 48th Senate District pause.

Mr. Aubertine’s first television spot in his campaign for the November election against Republican David Renzi—a commercial that can still be viewed on the internet’s “YouTube”—exemplifies quite clearly how the Aubertine campaign used the Lee Memorial issue dishonestly. In the 30-second spot, a narrator exclaims, “As a state senator, Darrel worked tirelessly to keep Lee Memorial Hospital open, saving hundreds of local jobs.”

At the time, though, the hospital had only been given a one-year extension to operate as a full-service facility, not a reversal of the Berger Commission mandate to down-size to an urgent-care center. Mr. Aubertine knew this, of course, and even took full credit for getting the extension in other campaign statements and materials.

But even that claim was highly questionable. According to a piece in the Watertown Daily Times in early November, “Claudia Hutton, public affairs director at the (N.Y.S.) Health Department, offered another take on why the one-year reprieve was granted. ‘One of the things we value is an orderly transition,’ she said. ‘A.L. Lee did not submit a closure plan in a timely manner to respond to Berger. In order to get a smooth transition, we felt it was necessary to grant A.L. Lee another 12 months to put together this transition’.”

Mr. Aubertine had first tapped into the Lee Memorial situation as a campaign issue early in 2008 in his campaign against Will Barclay in the February special election for Jim Wright’s vacated senate seat. As reported in The Valley News Feb. 23, 2008, Mr. Aubertine stated the following in reference to Lee Memorial: “The theme that I keep hearing was that their state elected officials did not fight for this facility. With the hospital, I will make it my business.” It was also reported in that article, “He cautioned, however, that he is not making any promises, especially since it is the eleventh hour.”

But come June, with the special-election winner required to run again in the regular November election and the fall campaign season getting into gear, Mr. Aubertine’s senate office issued a press release headlined “Aubertine: Hospital Deal Close.” The release stated that Senator Aubertine “is close to a deal between the state Department of Health and A.L. Lee Memorial Hospital that could preserve some level of acute-care and emergency-room services at the facility.”

Further down in the press release it was noted that the “deal” would require Lee Memorial to enter into a partnership with another hospital. So clearly, there not only was no development that could reasonably be characterized as a “deal,” it wasn’t even a “new deal,” as partnership negotiations had been going on between Oswego Health and Lee Memorial as far back as late 2006.

When Mr. Aubertine was in Fulton Sept. 4 for a town-hall style debate with Mr. Renzi, a member of his staff handed out flyers that stated, “Helped save 200 jobs at A.L. Lee Memorial, keeping the doors open and beds in place.” Although the press was not allowed to ask questions during the event, when asked afterward if he felt the flyer might be misleading to the public since the state Health Department had not changed its position on the hospital, he replied with a straight face that he did not consider it misleading.

In retrospect, probably one of the cruelest as well as most inappropriate campaign gestures was an Aubertine campaign rally held the following Wednesday outside Lee Memorial Hospital with the cooperation of the hospital administration (whose own internal policies quite likely prohibit partisan political activity). In this campaign appearance, Mr. Aubertine exclaimed, “During my last campaign, keeping Lee Memorial open was a key issue, and as your senator I have made it a priority to protect the services and jobs here. Today, I stand in front of his hospital and it’s still open.”

Many of those surrounding Mr. Aubertine with adoring smiles and holding Aubertine campaign signs—homemade as well as professionally produced—were members of Lee Memorial’s staff, who undoubtedly took the senator’s words to mean he was delivering something to them, not just using them as a campaign prop. (The campaign’s own coverage of this event can still be seen on the northern New York web site newsjunky.com.)

Throughout this time period in 2008, The Valley News did the best it could to keep local constituents in touch with reality where Lee Memorial was concerned, contacting the state Health Department for information that obviously would never come from a political candidate, but also that the Lee Memorial administration was obviously reluctant to offer.

From the way Senator Aubertine used Lee Memorial Hospital and its people in his re-election campaign, and from the way voters are similarly manipulated and used at every level of politics, a simple axiom can be derived: The more thorough the collective amnesia of a political constituency, the more a disingenuous politician will thrive at the expense of that constituency. It’s a while until Mr. Aubertine’s next election, but we will see if the axiom applies.

- Valley News



30 comments:

Anonymous said...

That local paper is a republican rag, plain and simple. He's as biased as Karl Rove. Most of us here in Fulton, even those who didn't vote for Aubertine understand he tried and that's more than any other elected has done.

Anonymous said...

I would say that farmer Darrell's chickens have come home to roost.

Anonymous said...

Devastating piece. How will Darrel explain his way out of this one? Cort? Drew?

Anonymous said...

Where, oh where is Rwiley NOW?

Anonymous said...

It's the sad truth. We in Fulton were political pawns. Aubertine didn't have anything to do with the extension. That's right on the health dept website for all to see.

Anonymous said...

The employees are upset with Darrel and rightly so.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #1 seems to have been personally injured by the Valley News....nurturing an injured leg maybe?
The Valley News was the canary in the coal mine, warning people of the closure of the hospital based on the facts from NYS. It is unfortunate so many drank the kool aid served up by Darrell, Cort and Drew....
The Valley News did its job impartially, and accurately—as a good press outlet should

Anonymous said...

Darrel Aubertine said he saved the hospital. He didn't. Nuff said.

Anonymous said...

What did Wright do to help AL Lee when they were having issues years ago? Aubertine did everything he could for AL Lee and he was a big part of them getting the extension, ask the hospital administrator. The facts are Aubertine did everything he possibly could but in the end couldnt AL Lee couldnt find a hospital to pair up with. Jim Wright never returned a phone call. Keep pounding Aubertine IV because it has proved to be so successful at the polls.

Anonymous said...

What has Barclay done? Nothing, but lets pile on the other guy who at least made an attempt. Pathetic, i am glad this makes you so happy you slime ball.

Anonymous said...

a bleak situation for residents and employees repeatedly used by a blogger for political gain. Shameful!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #9; (who I image is sitting in his "admirals uniform" practicing for the Port Authority)
Face it your guy USED the people of Fulton for his election.
Now, crawl back over to your own website(s)where there is no freedom of comment...

Anonymous said...

Sheldon's boy won the election. Get over it.

The majority of the voters are too stupid to check the facts behind what they're being told. Now, you expect them too remember this issue come next election. Most of them are lucky they remember their names.

Congrats Darrell. You got elected and that's all that matters. WooHoo!

OswegoDem said...

Where, oh where is Rwiley NOW?

Ans.

Jefferson's Leaning Left

Anonymous said...

Where, oh where is Rwiley NOW?



And

Lefty Limericks

Anonymous said...

The hospital knew in September 2008that they had to close and that they couldn't stay open because they never submitted anything to show a need. Aubertine knew this (but the public and employees didn't) and he kept on campainging like the hospital had been saved.

That's just wrong

Anonymous said...

Why don't you just give us a link to it?

Anonymous said...

Then there is the story about M. Steele, RNC chair and how he is being investigated for fraud by the FBI for giving money to his sister's company for services never performed. Can you imagine that PIV...his SISTER !!!!

Anonymous said...

Is this guy from Fulton?
What am I missing here?

I get it. We are changing the subject.

That usually means someone has lost the argument.

Anonymous said...

This is not something to joke about. I work at the hospital --yes I really do and we are prohibited from talking unless we want to leave with nothing-- Darrell Aubertine came to the hospital during the campaign and told us that he was saving the hospital and our jobs. Why do you think everybody was cheering in the commercial? Because we were told we are closing?

Anonymous said...

"That usually means someone has lost the argument"

Yes. and it was you PIV

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Darrell's office and family (sometimes the same) are getting overtime to answer these posts on Sunday?

Anonymous said...

Yup, you guys got used by a politician. You cheered on command and now you are paying a price.

You deserve some of the blame for listening to a politician in the first place. Maybe next time you will think first.

With the stimulus package you all will be able to find jobs right away.

Hahahahahahaha.

Anonymous said...

Voters are dumb. The information was there all the time they just didn't want to listen or believe the truth.

Anonymous said...

This is all very embarassing.

Anonymous said...

For who? The health workers, the voters, or the politicians. The first group was stupid, the second uninformed, the third, well they never really cared in the first place. It's about votes, and winning. Somebody won.

Now maybe, just maybe this Fulton place should have been closed all along. It shouldn't have been used as a political pawn, but maybe it should have been closed long ago.

Anonymous said...

What a joke. She linked to this trash as credible proof that Senator Aubertine is a target? Target of what?

Anonymous said...

What? A link to a local site with no ID?
I agree with above, where is the story here?
Liz dead ended on this one.

Anonymous said...

It must be a long winter up there. This is bogus. Thanks to Republicans NY has lost or rearranged the services of Health Care Groups all over. Grow up.
Slow day at work, Liz?

Anonymous said...

Is this the Post's idea of a joke?

Live Blogging