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Nursing home families still in the dark after Cuomo’s COVID disaster



Nursing home families still in the dark after Cuomo's COVID disaster

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s now-notorious decision to force nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients was based neither on science nor common sense. Even back then, we knew as much — and rushed to remove our 89-year-old father, Norman Arbeeny, from his nursing home in Brooklyn. Already infected, he died at home on April 21, 2020.

We need answers: substantive, accurate accounting.

Science back then told us that a COVID-positive patient was infecting about three others. Meanwhile, Cuomo claimed a year ago — falsely, we now know — that some 6,000 COVID patients were sent into nursing homes. So we extrapolated then that the total extra nursing home death tally could be as high as 18,000.

Yet as recently as a few months ago, the Cuomo administration was still wrongly reporting only approximately 6,500 deaths. In reality, 9,000 COVID-positive patients were discharged into nursing homes; the true nursing home death toll as a result of Cuomo’s order is closer to a staggering 15,000.

In January 2021, state Attorney General Letitia James proved grieving families like ours correct with a report concluding that the Cuomo administration had concealed the true count of COVID deaths in nursing homes by up to 50 percent. Even the “corrected” tally fails to include patients like our father, who caught COVID in a nursing home but died at home.

Government omission is betrayal of trust.

This is the Empire State’s latter-day Watergate. Only in this cover-up, thousands died. Cuomo’s betrayal will require an all-of-government response from our statewide elected officials, lest public confidence never be repaired. Obviously, we can’t rely on Cuomo. Our attorney general has taken some action, and our US senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, are focused on federal pandemic relief.

That leaves one powerful statewide official who has been missing in action.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is independently elected and has the authority to audit and hold accountable state and local government. His mission is transparency and to seek the truth wherever it leads. Unfortunately, DiNapoli has declined to assert this power during the pandemic. In fact, he has conducted not one audit of any substantive COVID-related issue, let alone of the nursing home scandal that resulted in the deaths of thousands of New Yorkers.

In May 2020, during the height of the COVID pandemic, after the governor had issued and rescinded his deadly nursing home directive, DiNapoli decided to audit equine health and safety. One of DiNapoli’s latest audits is of parking fine collections in the Big Apple. This week, he did officially request that the attorney general investigate the governor’s grotesque book deal, for which we commend him.

However, he punted the nursing home investigation back to James, stating that nothing prevents her from investigating potential criminal violations and that a referral from his office is unnecessary. Even an unnecessary yet symbolic referral would have been a meaningful response for the thousands of New Yorkers who lost loved ones in nursing homes. And why hasn’t he done any of his own audits into any of these matters?

If DiNapoli wants to get in the game and do his job to seek the truth, he needs to probe the origins of the March 25, 2020, nursing home order, including all communications of outside parties who took part. He also needs to uncover whether the 600 nursing homes were equipped to accept COVID-positive patients and, if not, why.

We need to know who tallied the state Department of Health’s nursing home COVID death count data, and exactly what the agency knew when. We also need the number of nursing home discharges who, like our father, caught COVID in a nursing home but later died at home.

Along the way, DiNapoli should look into the credible claims that Cuomo lined up COVID testing for family and other connected people during the initial months of the pandemic. The taxpayers deserve to know these names.

Last March, I cried on the phone with the state Health Department to be approved for a COVID test, while the well-connected were getting house calls. The state comptroller’s audit authority is vast and powerful and needs to be used to seek the truth.

DiNapoli needs to do his job and make sure our father and thousands of other New Yorkers’ deaths will finally be counted.

Daniel and Peter Arbeeny are fifth-generation residents of Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.

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Still hopeless on NYC’s homeless



Still hopeless on NYC’s homeless

New York City Transit President Sarah Feinberg minced no words Sunday in slamming the homeless advocates who “have sort of decided that the subway is a reasonable place for folks to live.”

“The answer should never be that someone lives on a bench or someone lives in a tunnel,” she told WABC radio. Darn right. And: “It boggles the mind that there are groups out there that have decided that this is an acceptable solution for these folks.” 

Worse, these groups “have devoted their time and their resources and their advocacy skills” to enabling such abuse of public spaces.

Yet Mayor Bill de Blasio, for his homelessness czar, tapped one of these advocates: Steven Banks, who has presided over a vast increase in city spending on the homeless and a simultaneous rise in the street-homeless problem.

Indeed, the advocates have city politicians so afraid to adopt a “tough love” approach to the homeless that Gov. Andrew Cuomo had to order late-night subway closures in the name of “cleaning,” just to stop these tortured souls from utterly taking over the system. But the closures are about to end — what then?

One good idea is to have places to bring the homeless besides a hospital or jail. But de Blasio put that initiative under the ThriveNYC umbrella — so it’s failed.

As The City reports, City Hall spent over $100 million to build two “diversion centers” for the mentally ill. But one hasn’t opened, and the other is barely used.

That’s right: Four years after $52 million went to rehab a 14,000-square-foot former IRS office in a graffiti-covered Bronx building into one center, it sits empty. Another $51 million actually opened the operation in East Harlem … this past November. It’s served a scant 45 clients since.

In short, conventional progressive thinking fails miserably at soft as well as tough love. Pray that the next mayor breaks from this foolishness.

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The wrong time to enforce the new plastic-bag law



The wrong time to enforce the new plastic-bag law

Sometimes, officials are too eager to move after a media exposé. Case in point, the reaction of the state Department of Environmental Conservation to reporting by The City that no grocery or bodega had been fined for ignoring the new ban on single-use plastic shopping bags.

Boom: Within hours, DEC announced it had issued 12 violation notices, to nine small businesses and three larger entities, including grocery chain Gristedes.

Hello: There’s a pandemic on, adding to the dangers of (already unsanitary) reusable bags and leaving residents, especially in lower-income areas, even more dependent on the closest-available food store.

The DEC, in short, had every reason to just issue written warnings (64 as of April 14) and hold off on fines. But now it has vowed to get tough, including $250 to $500 fines for ignoring warnings.

If Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants some good press, he should loudly order the DEC to return to its policy of mercy. Tell the environmental activists to hold their whining until the pandemic is over.

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Eric Adams is the right choice for NYC



Eric Adams is the right choice for NYC

The Post’s endorsement of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams for mayor on Monday has sparked considerable attention, with key figures joining in backing him. Below is a roundup of what they’re saying.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.: “Eric Adams will be a great mayor for the city of New York. I’m glad The Post agrees about having someone with Eric’s career and life experience informing him about how to fight for all New Yorkers.”

Diaz has been an increasingly important force in Democratic circles in the city whose endorsement will carry much weight.

Brooklyn Councilman Justin Brannan: “New York City is the nation’s economic engine and the fuel for that engine lives in the so-called ‘outer boroughs.’ Indeed, nearly 75 percent of all New York City essential workers live in Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island. Eric Adams knows this, and that’s why he will be a mayor keyed in to the communities, like the one I represent, that are at the edge of the city geographically but at the core of what makes our city run.”

Brannan represents moderate and diverse working-class communities in Brooklyn that could help propel Adams to victory.

Henry Garrido, executive director, DC 37: “There is no candidate more aligned with what our members believe in and stand for. The soul of our city is at stake. We need a mayor who understands the plight of the essential workers who kept this city running and the struggles working people face. That’s Eric.”

There’s no way to overstate the importance of support from unions like Garrido’s. Not only will many of his members take a cue from him, but so will voters who back unions and watch their endorsements carefully.

Uniformed Fire Officers Association President Jake Lemonda: “Like The Post, the Uniformed Fire Officers Association believes Eric Adams is the right choice to lead the city out of these trying times because he offers the best chance of solving the issues bedeviling the entire city.”

Lemonda’s statement can help drum up support for Adams among the uniformed rank and file in the city. Adams’ service as a police officer will likewise help.

Sheikh Musa Drammeh, head of the National Community Peace Building Commission: “Eric Adams is uniquely qualified and positioned to move the city out of its multi-prong socioeconomic challenges. Despite being knocked down by the pandemic, Adams will bring it back to a new and higher level. He personally understands what poor New Yorkers are going through while also appreciating the contributions of wealthy New Yorkers to our economy. New York knows that Eric Adams is the right leader we need now.”

Sheikh Drammeh has led various efforts forging ties between Jews and Muslims as well as improving police-community relations.

David Gold, a consultant and former Wall Street banker: “Eric believes in New York and its future. Wall Street likes him because he is a man with a plan who sticks to it and cares about our city. We need to feel safe on the street, in the subway, in all of our boroughs, and importantly, people should be comfortable coming to New York. We need Eric Adams because New York is at a critical point — our next mayor will be instrumental in making sure we thrive. That should be Eric Adams.”

Gold knows Adams through his work supporting first-responders as well as widows and children of those who have died in the line of duty. His support may signal to Wall Streeters that Adams is no left-wing radical who’ll let the city fall to ruin and force the financial industry to flee.

Jenny Sedlis, who has headed the pro-charter-school advocacy group StudentsFirstNY: “We’re at a moment in public education where we can’t afford to take good ideas off the table. Eric Adams is not beholden to ways of doing things just because it’s how they’ve been done before; he’s committed to putting the needs of students front and center. New York City needs a mayor like Eric Adams who will fight for every student to have access to excellence and opportunity, no matter their zip code.”

Sedlis is fundraising for Strong Leadership NYC, a pro-Adams independent expenditure committee. Her decision to back him will strike a note with parents throughout the city who care about getting a good education for their kids but can’t afford private school.

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