Billy Riccaldo works in the Summit Park Hospital Facilities Department and will presumably lose his job along with others who were apparently betrayed by a non-buying ‘buyer’. He wants the taxpayers to continue to pay millions to keep Summit Park open in the hope that another ‘buyer’ can be found.
The last so-called ‘buyer’, Shalom Braunstein of Monsey representing Sympaticare, said he wanted to buy the hospital but didn’t have the money. Yet Riccaldo said: “We’re standing up for what’s right and we hope legislators will use their authority to find another buyer instead of abandoning the residents and the services Summit Park provides”.
Whose ‘authority’ is Riccaldo talking about? All ‘authority’ comes from the taxpayers! No one is “abandoning” the residents except those who would continue to negotiate with a person who by his own admission does not have the means to complete his end of a contract. The majority of the hospital’s patients have now been moved to other facilities that will provide for their care and the remainder will be placed in other facilities by the end of the year when the hospital will be closed.
How does one deal with a character who claims that the County Executive walked away from $32 million for a “real estate deal”? As the senior citizen in the 1980s Wendy’s commercial asked “Where’s the beef?”. In the world of reasonable people seeking to abide by a contractual obligation one is supposed to have the ‘beef’ in order to make a deal. Yet this buyer stated on News 12 that all he had was 20% of the ‘beef’.
He also stated twice to Legislator Hofstein that he did not have enough ‘beef’ but was working on getting it which he felt he could do by the end of the year. Yet this is the buyer who signed a Purchase Sales Agreement in July 2014 for $36 million and then missed two closings and one extension offer with a $4 million reduction in price. All of this is well known to Legislator Aron Wieder who appears unwilling to acknowledge that taxpayers have continued to lose approximately $1 million per month while waiting for Braunstein to ‘feel’ what he can do.
On Friday November 13, 2015, County Executive Day was asked by Steve Possell on WRCR about comments made by Legislator Wieder basically blaming Day for the collapse of this ‘real estate’ deal. Possell asked Day how he knew the buyer didn’t have the ‘beef’. Day replied:
“HE said so – in his own words. You can’t get better than that! The reality is he (Braunstein) has missed numerous moments to come forth. This is not a real estate transaction as has been represented. This was supposed to be a sale that would protect the workers and that would take care of folks some of whom are in the final days of their lives. The money was not there and every month that this gentleman protracted this issue out cost us $800,000 to $1.5 million per month.
It is unfortunate that we have to move to closure (of the hospital). There is only one person who has been honest about this. The reality is that the Department of Health does not allow one to concurrently negotiate with a closure plan. It’s either one or the other. I said very clearly to a number of legislators if you wish to continue this we can do that but I will not go along with it unless you are honest with the people and tell them that we are looking at a significant tax increase to maintain this facility beyond the first of the year (2016).
Nobody is talking about that except me. I am trying to be honest with the people. This is not a decision I wanted to make – it’s a decision I had to make and as a practical matter we are moving in that direction (closing the facility by December 31st) under the guidance of the Department of Health. It is an unfortunate decision but the choice is simple – either we continue a protracted conversation with a buyer who has yet to show an ability to purchase or operate this facility and raise taxes OR we can be out of the (hospital) business which many other municipalities are getting out of.
This is unfortunate – it was not our goal – this is not the way it was expected to play out but that is how it did. Hopefully, when we get calls again (from the alleged buyer Braunstein and his legislator supporters) it will be pretty obvious to people that at this point it is just a sham. This is NOT a real estate transaction – we have to deal with patients and workers. For it to be categorized as a ‘real estate transaction’ I find frankly insulting to the folks who are still there and to the workers who are still there. It is unfortunate but the decision has been made.”
Billy Riccaldo and the Democratic Majority Leader, Aron Wieder, need to accept reality. County Executive Day is “standing up for what’s right” with respect to the former patients of the Summit Park Hospital. Legislator Wieder and his ilk appear to prefer further tax increases to keep a defunct operation on the table for Braunstein. We hope that Wieder and his colleagues will now cease prattling about THEIR authority over the Summit Park Hospital and will concentrate instead on doing the taxpayers a favor by reducing to zero Ed Day’s 4.95% tax increase in his proposed 2016 budget. Might I suggest Wieder starts with Sheriff Falco’s horses?
Taxpayers should remember that those who are really being abandoned by Billy Riccaldo and Legislator Wieder are the senior citizens of Rockland who will receive NO increase in their social security payments in 2016. Yet these same seniors, who demonstrably have no extra ‘beef’, are being asked to pay for continuous tax increases and to pay a share of Billy’s bloviating lawsuit.
According to ex-County Legislator Kantrowitz “in 2011, Rockland County’s mandated share of Medicaid costs completely exceeded the entire amount of the property taxes that Rockland County collected. That’s right, 100% of all the property taxes collected in 2011 were not enough to pay the County’s share of the Medicaid Mandate. In 2012, Medicaid consumed 91% of the property taxes received and in 2013 it was 80%. Medicaid costs have not gone down— they have gone up– but the County property taxes have gone up more”.
Meanwhile this ‘chatter-box’ legislative body and its ‘chatter-box’ majority leader, Aron Wieder, ignore the tax problems being caused by these unfunded mandates arising from obscene increases in Medicaid costs coming from a narrow segment of Rockland County’s residents.
Legislator Wieder spent an inordinate amount of time lobbying against a monitor for the East Ramapo School District in Albany. He should return there and lobby the State government to provide relief from the plunder of Rockland by Medicaid. Perhaps he could take Billy Riccaldo with him?