NY State Dept. of Health’s manipulation and deceit

Manipulative and deceitful behavior by New York State Department of Health officials Mark Kissinger and David Hoffman will help you understand why the Center for Public Integrity recently gave New York a D-minus in a recent ranking of states and corruption.

I’ll get to the above referenced behavior in just a second. First, some background.

Governor Cuomo’s DOH seems determined to destroy the lives of thousands by ending the state’s Traumatic Brain Injury Waiver – established by the governor’s father, Mario Cuomo – and the Nursing Home Transition and Diversion Waiver by forcing waiver recipients into managed care.

Waivers provide services that both allow residents to remain in or return to the community as well as grow their independence as much as they can.

Now, Hoffman and Kissinger have been hosting a series of workshops they say are designed to make the transition run smoothly.  With only a few exceptions, the DOH workshop membership largely made of those who, whether they’ll admit it on the record or not,  are all for the DOH’s brutal transition plan.

That waiver recipients and their families and along with honest waiver providers have made it clear the waivers need to be protected has, so far, had little effect. That nearly all the witnesses at a an October 8 public hearing hosted by the Assembly Health Committee, Mental Health & Developmental Disability Committee, and Task Force on People with Disabilities warned the state’s plan would have catastrophic results, has not dissuaded the governor, or the DOH, or the many pawns in the DOH work group in the least.

Manipulation and deceit

I recently attended one of the DOH work group meetings. They are public meetings and members of the public, like me, can attend. When the public was asked to comment, some of us did.  A couple of weeks ago I sent Kissinger an email asking him to please send me a listing of who was on the DOH Workgroup. He forwarded the request to Hoffman, and then, Hoffman emailed me the list.

To my surprise, I and other members of the public were listed as members of the work group! Wrong. I emailed Hoffman and asked him of the mistake, pointing out that you can’t list members of the public as being members of the work group because it’s not true. And, they did it without asking permission.

I figured Hoffman (the DOH) would recognize the mistake and correct it. Wrong again.

When Hoffman responded he wrote. “Everyone in attendance is welcome to participate in comments and questions (as you saw) and so are included in the listing.” In other words, if you are a member of the public, and during the public comment portion of the agenda, say something, we’re going to list you as a member of the work group and we are going to do it without your permission.

Subsequent emails to Hoffman and Kissinger asking them to stop this deceit have resulted in a response the DOH has honed to perfection. Silence.

Now that I think of it, the Center for Public Integrity was generous when gave New York a D-minus. Hell, I think giving these folks an F would be generous.





My days filled with tears

I’ve done more crying over the last week or two than I have in many years, a reality that doesn’t worry me in the least, but, until very recently, it confused me because I couldn’t figure out why they hell I was crying. I don’t mind my emotional life experience. I do like to understand it. Especially since this recent stint of tearfalls began right after getting great news.

Watch, I’ll show you.

  • The Kahrmann Advocacy Coalition application for pro bono legal services filed with a group that will wed us to a top law firm has been accepted.  Good news. As a result, KAC is on its way to becoming a 501c3 nonprofit company. Very good news.
    • This means KAC will be able to file legal actions against some who are denying the rights of people with brain injury disabilities in New York State. Good news
    • It means we will be even more adept at uncovering and exposing various forms of corruption (which includes exposing those whose allegiance to the rights of individuals with brain injuries is lip service and lip service only). More good news.
    • It means we will be able to advocate for more people and in doing so, hopefully, make their lives a better place to be.  Really good news.
    • It means the waters will become more treacherous for those who oppress the rights of brain injury survivors, often by treating them as if they are nothing but revenue streams.  Very good news.

With all this good news, why the crying?

Let me again assure you I have no problems with the fact I’ve been crying a lot. No embarrassment and no worries that it means something has gone wrong with me. I know some have been convinced or have convinced themselves crying is an act of weakness. I would say to them, if crying is an act of weakness, why is it so hard for you to do it?

I want to understand, not avoid my my emotional experience in life. So, I reached out to my old therapist, an extraordinary man, Bill Buse. If anyone could help me track down the reason for my tears, he could. He did. I can’t tell my father and my mother. I can’t tell my family because I’ve not had an active family life since I was 16. That I can’t tell them drenches me in sadness.

And so, the tears. Now that I understand them, I am very grateful for them. Every one of them is testimony to the depth of my love for my parents, my sister, my family. Every single one of reflects how great it is that KAC will soon be a more powerful advocate than it already is. This would make my parents and my family very happy, and, if you’ll allow the “little boy” to peek out from behind his history, proud of me.

If you’re going to lie to me….

I don’t ask for much in life other than respect, so, if you are going to disrespect me by lying  to me, the least you can do is make an effort to make it a good, show a little creativity for God’s sake.

I’ve decided to rummage around in my mind and, perhaps the minds of others, to develop some fun, at least for me, responses to people who lie to me so brazenly and obviously I don’t know whether to burst out laughing and ask them if they’re joking or simply stupid enough to think I believe them, or smack them upside their “head” with a verbal dagger that says, we both know you’re lying and you’re such a self-absorbed little twit you’re going to stand by your stench-rubbish anyway.

Anyone who knows me knows I have no ability to be silent when someone’s rights are being denied. I don’t care of it’s people with disabilities, people who are Jewish, African American, Latino, Muslim, veterans, members of the LGBT community, women, etc., etc., I’m not about to stay silent. People who know me also know it is very likely, particularly of you are a public official or someone in a position of authority, that I am going to expose your bigotry for all to see. 

All that aside, let me say there is a special place in hell for people whose claim to care about the rights of others is nothing more than lip-service smoke screens. A form of dishonesty so glaringly obvious I want to grab them by the throat and say, “Why not grow some backbone and say out loud that you don’t give a rat’s ass about these people and you just care about money and power?” 

What’s somewhat amusing is the feigned indignity performances I get to see when I call someone out for lying, for being a hypocrite. They put so much effort into their performance (without exception they’re lousy actors) I’m surprised they don’t snort and dribble out of the corner of their mouths, go into convulsions, and start speaking in tongues. Some feign astonishment to such I degree I expect them to allow their simian roots to take over and start pounding their chest.

Many of the lies I see these days  come from those who claim they are committed to protecting the rights of New York residents who live with brain injury disabilities. Since their commitment is limited to the effort it takes to say they are committed, the least they could do is make a commitment to develop their lying skills. I’ll probably catch them anyway, but at least catching them might pose a sliver of a challenge. However, exposing them will not.

So, here’s the thing, if you’re going to lie to me, make an effort, or give us both a break and shut up.

A coward named Cuomo

Whether you liked him as the governor of New York or not, only a fool would doubt the courage of Mario Cuomo. He stood fast in his opposition to the death penalty (I oppose it too) even when he knew many disagreed.  He was courageous man. Not so his son, the current governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo. All I know makes it clear to me he is a coward and, if you permit me a redundancy, a wimp.

Numerous sources tell me about the bullying he likes to do behind the scenes. Bullies are cowards. Able to act all tough and strong when there is no one to challenge them. Leave it to Cuomo  to run around New York playing like he’s John Wayne when inmates David Sweat and Richard Matt escaped. Notice Cuomo was always surrounded by state police. Easy to play tough guy when you have some real-life armed toughs as your escort.

And now, Cuomo has his Department of Health on the brink of pulverizing the lives of New Yorkers with brain injuries and the business stability of those who provide services to them under the state’s Traumatic Brain Injury Waiver Program. A waiver is a Medicaid reimbursement program that provide services so a vulnerable part of the population can live in the community or return to community life. It’s been in this state for 21 years now.  And under whose watch did it come to be?  Mario Cuomo’s, the Cuomo with the courage and integrity and compassion for others. Andrew’s DOH wants to shove the waiver into a form of managed care that will destroy the lives of New Yorkers with brain injuries, remove their housing subsidies, and get rid of their case managers. 

In other words, the son wants to destroy something great built by his father.

The reason? Well, one of Cuomo’s flunkies, DOH Official Mark Kissinger says, managed care is the way of the future.  Well, if the goal is to destroy lives and rob people of their independence, I suppose he’s right. Kissinger admits he has no formal training in the brain and the DOH admits no one on its staff addressing the needs of New Yorkers with brain injuries have any formal training in the brain either.

Another of Cuomo’s flunkies is yet another coward, a DOH official named Maribeth “Knuckles” Gnozzio.   Knuckles only escaped federal prosecution thanks to a plea deal her husband, New Jersey’s former Hudson  County executive and now convicted felon, Robert Janiszewski, cut with the feds. Media reports say the aforementioned Knuckles Gnozzio was spared charges as a result of Janiszewski’s agreement with the FBI. Too bad.  According to the Hudson Reporter, “Election records from 2001 show that the entire time that former Hudson County Executive Robert Janiszewski was working for the federal government, he was apparently directing campaign funds to a private campaign account” kept in the Knuckles’ name.

When this writer brought these details to the attention of Cuomo’s DOH, Knuckles was a contract employee. And how did Cuomo respond? As soon as Knuckles’ contract ran her made her a DOH staff member.  You have to have others do your dirty work when you’re a coward, and cowards like Knuckles fit the bill.

Several sources who were present say that during an October 6 DOH meeting about the state’s plan to knowingly destroy the lives of brain injury survivors,Knuckles said if people with brain injuries who were on the waiver were put on psychotropics they wouldn’t need waiver services.  At least the DOH’s support of chemical restraints is out in the open.

I’ve sent several emails asking the DOH to answer some questions, including an email to Knuckles asking her to explain her comments about drugging up waiver participants. And guess what? They refuse to respond. Why? Because they are cowards.

If any of you are wondering if this missive is meant, in part, to get a coward named Cuomo to step into the open with me, you bet. Do I think he will? No. He’s a coward. However, I’d be only too delighted to find out he found some unused courage sitting around one of his dresser drawers, under his socks maybe. Then we would meet in a public forum. Just the two of us, Andrew, no armed escorts, no Knuckles.

To be held and to hold

There is not enough holding each other going on. Not enough hugs. That warm-kindness gift between beings when, for the time it lasts (and then some, if you’re lucky), you are caring and cared for. Those who hug for effects sake rather than sincerity’s sake are not included in this missive.

I would gladly hug Charles Dickens for saying, ““Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.”

There is an abundance of evidence telling us the presence of touch improves our quality of life and the absence of touch reduces the quality of life. “Touch makes our world real,” is one of the  salient points made by Alberto Gallace and Charles Spence in their book, “In Touch with the Future: The sense of touch from cognitive neuroscience to virtual reality.” Spence  is works out of Sommerville College, in Oxford, England and Gallace is with the Department of Psychology at University of Milano-Bicocca in Italy.

In a time when technology (driven by government and big business (I am repeating myself)) draws us out of self and into their control t the importance of being truly present in the moment and present with another in the moment is, I fear, fading.  Pairs of eyes by the thousands staring at handheld devices unaware that they are slowly but surely being fed whatever the powers that be want them to be fed. 

Which is why to hold someone and be held by someone is one of the purest forms of sanctuary life offers.

Hug those you love, let them hug you back. Hold them. Allow them to hold you. Springsteen was right. Sometimes it all comes down to wanting “a little of that human touch.”

Addiction to technology is not about life, to be held and to hold is.