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Elder Care

August 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Ulster County Seal

Elder Care in Ulster County    August 25, 2011

Some members of the Ulster County Legislature are drafting a resolution to require the County to continue to operate a skilled care nursing facility, despite the fact that County Executive Mike Hein has predicted a $25 million dollar budget deficit for 2012. The Executive has also questioned the reliability of New York State funding for the facility. The federal government is running a $1.3 trillion dollar deficit and New York State has a $9 billion dollar deficit. We are in an Economic Emergency and my colleagues are proposing $100 million dollar expenditures. Ulster County does not have a good record of managing such projects (Ulster County Jail cost overruns).
I am resolved to keep the 280 bed Skilled Care Nursing License in Ulster County. That said I believe a Public/Private Partnership of “Elder Care” service would be the best approach to maintain quality care and tax relief to the citizens of Ulster County. I prefer to identify our medical needs as “Elder Care” as opposed to the name of one facility. There are tens of thousands residents of our county reaching the elder years. We need a comprehensive strategic master plan to address the needs of this population group. We have the opportunity to create an Elder Care Campus Model in our region that will answer the needs of our seniors as well as create economic growth. The senior housing and adjacent medical facility at the Ellenville Hospital are an example of “Campus Design”. The addition of a skilled care nursing facility at that location would complete a holistic and symbiotic treatment center for elders. That model could be duplicated throughout the region and would facilitated keeping seniors in their own homes longer. Independent senior living and assisted living is much less expensive than skilled care institutions.
Raising County Taxes 30% to build one facility will negatively affect thousands of seniors and other residents who are barely able to afford current costs of living in our county. We can and will maintain high caliber health care for our Elders and we will do it in a cost effective, pragmatic manner. We can change a challenge to an opportunity by partnering with Adult Housing Professionals and recognized Elder Care Providers. The needs of our aging populations are too personal to be relegated to election cycle antics. Our seniors deserve to maintain their dignity and are due our respect. Proper planning not politics is the solution to our Elder Care needs. It’s time for all parties to work toward that end.

Legislator Jack Hayes, District 8

Chairman  Law Enforcement & Public Safety  Committee

P.O. Box 1800
Kingston, NY  12402
Telephone:  845 340-3900
FAX:  845 340-3651

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Prosecutor’s Laments

Ulster County SealUlster County Legislature

Michael Hein
Ulster County Executive
County Office Building
244 Fair Street
Kingston NY 12401
May 23, 2011

Dear Executive Hein,
I hope you are well and coping with this exceptionally moist Spring season. I am sure you are aware of the Saturday, May 21,2011  Daily Freeman article “Prosecutor laments lack of suspect monitoring” reporting remarks of Dutchess County Senior Assistant District Attorney, Edward Whitesell, regarding the monitoring of 17-year old Tavia Alvarez by Ulster County Probation. My first reaction to the article is that our Melanie Mullens, Director of Ulster County Probation, is among the finest Probation Professionals in New York State and her competence is above reproach. It is my understanding that our counties (Dutchess and Ulster) enjoy superior cooperative relations among the Criminal Justice Communities. The recent rash of violent crimes in the Mid-Hudson area and some unfunded mandates from New York State has taxed the resources of our Criminal Justice Services. If “monitoring” of high risk persons in our justice system is an area in which policy needs to be adapted to our changing times, I assure you the Ulster County Law Enforcement and Public Safety Committee stands ready to assist and provide any legislative policy amendments/changes needed to support our dedicated Criminal Justice professionals.
On May 14, 2011, I contacted Dutchess County Legislature Chairman Robert Rolison regarding the joint Dutchess County District Attorney/Legislature pilot Domestic Violence study to GPS monitor high risk persons who have been issued an Order of Protection. The Chairman and I plan to meet in the near future. We have also collaborated on regional emergency communication discussions and I am sure we can address any issues with regard to this instance.
The protection and safety of the people in our area must be our primary concern. I know with your background of a law enforcement family you agree. I look forward to combining our efforts to that end.

Very Truly Yours,
Jack Hayes

Legislative Activity 2010-2011

Ulster County SealUlster County Legislature

LEGISLATIVE ACTIVITIES 2010-2011

I chair the Law Enforcement and Public Safety Committee. The Committee has direct oversight for policy and budget concerns of; Ulster County Sheriff and Law Enforcement Center, Probation, Emergency Communications/Management, Arson Task Force, Traffic Safety Board, Fire Coordinator, District Attorney and Public Defender.
In January of 2010 I wrote a letter to each department asking for; the previous year’s budget and activities, current concerns/issues facing the departments, projected considerations to facilitate Strategic Planning.
I received a reply from each Department Head/Elected Official and discussed policy and budgetary concerns for each Department. I physically toured each work location and discussed the current feasibility and operation nuances.

OBSERVATIONS:
The Ulster County Jail and Law enforcement Center are in good condition and well utilized. The jail has excellent food preparation facilities and inmate involvement lowers costs. The jail telephone system is fee based and is a source of revenue. There are outstanding union contracts for both the Road Patrol and Corrections. Sheriff Paul VanBlarcum is exceptionally dedicated to the safe and efficient operation of his department and is fully cooperative with the committee

Emergency Communications911/Management is housed in an old building on Golden Hill. The facility is past its useful life and the equipment is close to fifteen years old. Director Art Snyder is a very experienced respected Director. There is currently an assessment study of Ulster County Communications Systems being conducted by Blue Wing Group regarding upgrade and compliance mandate of the Federal Communications Commission. I am in constant contact with Director Snyder and have participated in numerous meeting regarding police and fire department communications.

Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnright is located in the County Court House on Wall St.   DA Carnright’s office space is bursting at the seams and every effort is being made to utilize every inch of space (closets converted to offices). DA Carnright has been exceptionally busy and trials have increase dramatically. The DA has made excellent use of his staff and equipment. He has assisted in obtaining grant funding and has kept his budget very tight. Recent trials of Gang members and a Investigation of City of Kingston Police officer involved in theft have strained his department monetary and staffing levels. DA Carnright regularly attends LEPS committee meetings.

The Ulster County Public Defender, Andrew Kossover, is equally as busy as the DA (it goes w/o saying, their paths are crossed). The higher level of court activity requires an increased level of Per Diem activity by court appointed attorneys. An assessment of hiring a full time attorney vs. continued per diem work is being reviewed. Mr. Kossover recenty secured a $65,000 grant for PD office.

UC Probation is headed by Director Melanie Mullens. Ms. Mullens is an astute practitioner of the Probation field. The recent increase in criminal activity mentioned in the DA’s office observations is evident in the Probation Department as well. The department has reduced the numbers officers and the caseload is increasing. State Mandates such as Leandra’s Law (Ignition Interlock on convicted DWI offenders vehicle) has added more probation monitoring duties but the state does not fund any of these activities.

The Traffic Safety Board is Directed by Charlie Schaller. The board consists of volunteers from law enforcement and highway agencies and traffic safety issues are discussed and addressed. I attend this meeting regularly and help with policy issues.

The Fire Coordinator, Charles Mutz and the Arson Task Force Leader Wayne Freer work closely with local fire departments and are available on call for serious incidents. Their budgets remain flat. The Fire Advisory Board meets in the Legislative Chambers and is headed by Gardiner resident Bill Ecker this year. Legislator Ken Ronk meets with them and I attend when my schedule allows.

As Chair of LEPS I am invited to membership in the Ulster County Chiefs of Police Association. I attend this meeting regularly and maintain contact with the chiefs of police throughout the county.

During 2010 the committee reviewed ;
Bridge Safety
a.Discussion were conducted with Ulster County Highway Department and a review of Capital Projects revealed bridge safety was being addressed by the County
Dam Safety
a.It was found that New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the Water Authority did not have an adequate emergency response plan in place in the event of a catastrophic failure of the leaking West Branch Tunnel in Wawarsing NY. Coordination with Ulster/Orange County Executives, New York State Emergency Management, Federal Emergency Management Agency and New York City resulted  the convening of a Technical Assistance plan to include the Hudson Valley and NYC in the development of a comprehensive Emergency Action Plan

UC Building security
a.An assessment of the Ulster County Building security was initiated and a working group of county leaders and security subject matter experts was convened. This working group continues to be involved in this assessment.

MEDICAL EXAMINER PROTOCOL – the Medical Examiner, falls under the Department of Health, but the duties of the ME are closely related to police investigations of deaths. In early 2010 I asked the Director of Health to provide the Medical Examiner Protocol. To the best of my knowledge there was no written formal protocol. I was told they were working on it. In the Fall of 2010 the Department of Health provided the committee with a written Protocol and evidence of the Medical Examiner maintaining Professional Development.

2011 LEPS ACTIVITIES

The homicide investigation at the Renaissance Project in Ellenville NY raised concerns regarding the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services practice of placing individuals at Alternative to Incarceration Facilities in our communities. Placement is supposed to limited to von-violent offenders. The proper operation of the facility and the placement question is being reviewed by the LEPS committee.

The committee is also requesting the County Executive and County Health Department pursue action against New York City DEP for Public Safety infractions in that the leaking West Branch Tunnel is causing Septic Systems to fail, homes to be infected with mold and bacteria and water supplies to be polluted in the Wawarsing Flats area. This creates a public safety issue for almost 100 residents.

The Law Enforcement and Public Safety Committee reviewed and authorized payments of funds related to the County Criminal Justice community on a monthly basis.

I chair THE ULSTER COUNTY REENTRY TASK FORCE- the Task Force is a state funded group of Criminal Justice community members ; DA, Pub Def, Probation, Parole, NYSDOC, Community Service groups, clergy, and counseling service providers, and Grant coordinator Family of Woodstock That works with high risk former convicts coming back into the community. The NYS Department of Criminal Justice initiative attempts to assist returning former inmates during their first ninety days back in our community to get them reestablished with housing, identification and employment. The task force meets the 3rd Wednesday of the month.

ULSTER COUNTY CRIMINAL JUSTICE COUNCIL – This Council is Chaired by Robert Sudlow, Deputy County Executive and I am the Legislative Liaison. The Council reports on similar matters and departments as the Law Enforcement and Public Safety Committee. It monitors trends and conducts studies to facilitate strategic planning.

LEGISLATIVE PROGRAMS –  I am a member of this committee . It is responsible for policy and budget related to; Arts, Ulster County Community College, Historian, Libraries, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Seniors and Veterans Affairs.

In early 2010 the Democrat minority of the committee attempted to reinstate funding to the above programs after the county Executive had reduced same. The majority prevailed each time and refused to increase the funding.

Joined Cathy Terrizzi, and Ken Ronk in fighting to maintain “Hot Meals” for the Meals on Wheels program in the Gardiner/Wallkill area. Office of the Aging was going to try to give Our Seniors frozen meals. The Office of the Aging returned to the practice of “Hot Meals”

As the Veterans affairs liaison, I wrote letters to every American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in Ulster County and advised them that the committee was available to them if they needed anything. I suggested that the Ulster County Fair recognize Military Members and Veterans at this year’s Ulster County Fair. I joined Post Commander John Nilsen in requesting a more thorough vetting of the new Director of the Ulster County Veterans office (Steve Massey replaces Terry Brietenstein). I spoke with Congressman Chris Gibson twice regarding revising the Military Separation form DD214 to a credit card magnetic tape format to facilitate easier access to benefits for service personnel.

I worked with SUNY Ulster’s Pam Wanning, Cornell’s Lee Reidy, and Traffic Safety’s Charlies Schaller to present a “AGRICULTURE VEHICLE SAFETY PROGRAM at SUNY Ulster. Many farmers attended and were pleased we put it on.

SUNY Ulster has done a great job of keeping its budget flat. If the County reduces it, we will lose substantial state matching funds. Sullivan County almost lost their funds by reducing the SCCC budget.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT and TOURISM COMMITTEE – I am a member of the Tourism and Economic Development Committee. It meets the first Monday of the month. This committee oversees all aspects of economic development, Tourism, Planning, the Industrial Development Agency, Ulster County Development Corporation, Public Transportation, and interacts with Chambers of Commerce.
a.This committee also approves recommendations of Ulster County Agriculture Board with regard to changing local zoning. In 2010 I voted to support recommendations of Town Supervisors from Shawangunk and New Paltz to deny changes which it is felt would impinge on residential zones. One of the controversial properties was again applied for in 2011 but this time did not come out of the Ag Board.
b.The efficiency of Ulster County Rural Transportation is being monitored with a close to ridership and number of routes/frequency. A new bulk storage tank was approved and install. This will allow the agency to buy fuel in quantity allowing for a greater discount.

2011 BUDGET REVIEW AND ADOPTION – the current budget allowed for a flat (no increase) tax levy. It was flat because the County Executive utilized twelve million dollar in fund balance (reserve) monies. Prior to the final vote on the budget the Legislature was advised New York State had credited the County with two million dollars. Myself, Cathy Terrizzi, Ken Ronk and several other Legislators joined on a resolution to apply this money to the budget and lower the tax levy. The resolution was defeated. I attended budget public hearings throughout the county.

GOLDEN HILL HEALTH CARE FACILITY – the facility was the scene of an outbreak of Legionnaires disease in January of 2010 which resulted in the deaths of two residents. A quick and effective response by Ulster County Health Department remediated the conditions causing the outbreak. This incident highlighted the deteriorating condition of the facility and was the catalyst for Study of Ulster County’s Ability to deliver Skilled Bed Nursing care. The study was lead by Health and Human Services Committee Chairman , Walter Frey (R-Saugerties).  The study concluded that the repair and remodeling of the facility would be more expensive than building new. An option for building a new facility carried a price tag of 80-100 million dollars.
The people of District 8 who contacted me regarding this option strongly opposed the County financing this and the eventual increase in taxes. At this time I support maintaining a facility in Ulster County having the license be held by private operator. I attended public presentations of Elder Health care alternatives throughout the county. I researched the Elder Care housing and Ellenville Hospital complex as a possible model for providing quality health care in Ulster County.

ULSTER COUNTY POLICE SERVICES – County Executive Michael Hein and Legislature Chairman Fred Wadnola have asked me to have the Law Enforcement and Public Safety Committee review Police Services in Ulster County to attempt to ascertain any possible efficiencies that may be available. Further discussions with both leaders are pending.

ULSTER COUNTY RESOURCE RECOVERY AGENCY – this agency is responsible the processing of all municipal waste. In the fall of 2010 accusations of inappropriate conduct, mismanagement, and possibly criminal activity were levied at the agency leadership and led to his dismissal. District Attorney Holley Carnright initiated an investigation into alleged crimes and concluded there was no evidence of same. The District Attorney advised that he could perform a forensic audit if the Legislature agreed to fund it (approx $200,000). Ulster County Comptroller Auerbach conducted a review of the agency and determined it was mismanaged but did not find elements of criminal activity. The Legislature requested the New York State Comptroller’s Office conduct an audit of the agency and it has agreed to this request. I concur with this action and believe the Legislature should have made this request earlier.

COMMUNICATION – As your representative at the County Legislature I have endeavored to maintain open lines of communication with committee chairs of all parties. I have sought committee’s opinion and input on all significant issues. I have maintained a dialogue with Town Supervisors of all the towns in district 8. I have had contact with numerous other Town Supervisors in my position as committee chair. I have shared information with State and Federal representatives and sought their assistance when jurisdictional issues indicated it was appropriate. I built a website; http://www.johnjhayesucld8.com , and I regularly post information of interest to my constituents.

REAPPORTIONMENT-NEW LEGILATIVE DISTRICTS – I regularly attended this committee’s meetings and forwarded minutes to town chairs and town supervisors. This was a long and grueling process made even harder by the time constraints involved. I made myself available to anyone who had input on this issue.

SUMMARY – The past eighteen months have been very busy. There has been rigorous internal and external debate in the Legislature. There has been a learning curve of roles in the Charter form of government. This very young government will again transform this fall as redistricting and downsizing are implemented. It is my belief that the Legislature has just begun to realize and adapt to its defined functions. The Legislature and the Executive can work with other Elected Officers to maintain the high quality of life we enjoy in Ulster County while answering the demands a dynamic government. There is a need to quickly adapt in our ever changing world. Some scholar once said “true democracy is a messy affair”. I think we are on the right track and we should continue to move forward and leave the past behind. I would appreciate your continued support in my efforts to represent DISTRICT 16.

Respectfully,
Jack Hayes

Categories: Commitee notes, Commitees

Sentencing of Killers

Ulster County SealJack Hayes, Chairman

 Law Enforcement & Public Safety  Committee

P.O. Box 1800
Kingston, NY  12402
Telephone:  845 340-3900
FAX:  845 340-3651

May 9, 2011

On May 6, 2011 I was present at the sentencing hearing for convicted killers
Trevor “Little T” Mattis and Gary “G Money” Griffin at the Ulster County Court in Kingston, NY. Both men had been convicted of killing Charles King Jr. in an execution style attack in which King was killed with two bullets to the back of the head.
As a thirty five year veteran of the New York State Police and a Veteran of Foreign Wars, I thought myself a somewhat “hardened” observer. I was wrong. These two killers shook my sense of what vile criminal behavior is. Each killer treated everyone in the courtroom with scorn and disrespect. Neither man exhibited the slightest remorse for his brutal crime. Each convict verbally lashed out at Judge Williams and District Attorney Carnright. Court Security was needed at one point to prevent Mattis from approaching Judge Williams. These two alleged members of the Sex Money Murder (pretty much says it all) gang were the epitome of evil.
The professionalism, patience and restrain exhibited by police security, District Attorney Holley Carnright and Judge Don Williams were admirable. The Officers of the Court were all that is right about our Criminal Justice system just as sure as Mattis and Griffin represented all that was wrong.
Ulster County is fortunate it has the Criminal Justice infrastructure that it does. The threats of dangerous organized gangs are real and the efforts to remove these elements from our society must be pursued with vigor. I strongly support and commend our police forces, prosecutors and judges for their diligence and courage in confronting this problem. Hopefully the pair’s Life in Prison without the possibility of parole sentence will keep them from hurting anyone again.

Jack Hayes
Chairman
Ulster County Law Enforcement and Public Safety Committee
Johnjhayesucld8@hvc.rr.com

Categories: Commitee notes, NEWS