Politics is a masterful beast. One can be so caught up in the promise of winning that they vote against their own value systems and forget why they were elected in the first place. Promises are made that cannot be kept, and the individual making them knows it.
For instance, here in Chautauqua County when the County Legislators voted down selling the Chautauqua County Home for the second time, one notable legislator went on the record to defend his no vote by saying that eventually those who voted yes would be proven to have been right. Does that mean you should have voted yes, Mr. Legislator?
If voting to sell the home will be the right thing to do in the future, why turn away a viable and qualified buyer now? But who knows, eventually there may not be a buyer who is willing to invest in the home and it will go the way of so many other organizations here in Chautauqua County; the doors will close and the employees of today will become the unemployed of tomorrow. Promises and politics are one and the same.
Such was the case when the President said, "if you like your health insurance, you can keep your health insurance." What exactly did he mean? Did he mean you could keep it until 2014? We now know that what he said is not true.
If you are like many others, and myself, you have received a letter in the mail saying that your insurance policy has been cancelled. This letter has then been followed up with a second letter saying that your insurance company has a policy similar to the one you had, but it will cost you more money (in my case that more money amounts to $200-plus per month). The odd thing is that this new policy gives me stuff I don't need or want such as maternity care, and increases my co-pays to see my primary care physician. I should not complain, however, since I am only one of about 5 percent of those affected; too bad I don't qualify for welfare and Medicaid.
Politics! The deals and conversations that take place behind closed doors and while riding from the first tee to the second are rarely made public. And the public suffers. Let's look at what is happening at Lake Shore Hospital in Irving.
When the news came that the hospital intended to close in 2014, the residents were stunned. Senator Cathy Young said in an interview with the OBSERVER, "This all came out of the blue. There was no communication beforehand with me. It's very concerning," she said.
County Legislator George Borrello called on the public to respond by saying, "Just like with NRG, the public needs to make it aware that this is something that's important to everyone. With NRG, there was a point at which public comments were being made. That may very well happen down the road. You have to remember that the Health Department is really the organization that determines if this hospital can actually close."
With the first notice of gloom and doom facing the hospital resulting in its ultimate closure, an offer to purchase it was made. A security deposit was presented; a plan was put into place. Sadly, however with a bird-in-hand the board of the Lake Erie Regional Health System smacked their lips, rubbed their hands together and paused briefly. They determined that this offer would not be accepted at this time, and according to a statement: "Efforts to sell financially ailing Lake Shore Health Care Center in Irving will continue, because offers to date have been insufficient."
I shake my head and wonder just what is wrong with our elected officials and decision makers. We have a $3 million drain for taxpayers in Chautauqua County in order to hold on to a county skilled nursing home that we can't afford. We have the highest percentage of welfare and Medicaid recipients in the state, but not to worry, Obamacare will take care of these individuals - thus the higher premiums for individual private insurance for those like me; our welfare to work program is not working - and with the current administration in Albany and the legislators in Mayville it may never change for the better; a hospital that employs over 400 individuals is slated to close while the board of directors holds out for a better offer; the PSC has yet to determine the fate of NRG; and we have the eighth highest tax burden in the nation. It boggles the mind!
And there was an election Tuesday, congratulations to the winners. For those who didn't win .... oh well. In the end you may be better off, because politics is not for the faint of heart, it is a beast that can consume you.
Have a great day.
Vicki Westling is a Dunkirk resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org