Berne man wins phone therapy suit

Judge: Crime victims panel must pay man’s therapist for rare form of counseling

By RICK KARLIN, Capitol bureau
Click byline for more stories by writer.
First published: Saturday, December 9, 2006

A Berne man who sued the state for cutting off payments for his telephone therapy has won the right to keep getting the treatments reimbursed.
The New York State Crime Victims Compensation Board was “arbitrary and capricious,” in its decision earlier this year to stop payments to William Buse, a New York City therapist who provides counseling over the telephone to Peter Kahrmann, who moved to Berne four years ago.

“We just got the decision in the mail,” Kahrmann lawyer Michael Kaplen said. “He’s going to continue to get the therapy he needs.”

The case filed earlier this year challenged the board’s decision to stop funding the rare therapy. State Supreme Court Justice George B. Ceresia Jr. based his decision partly on the lack of hearings or other public input prior to the board’s decision.

“This is a victory for crime victims and I think it’s a victory for the Crime Victims Board too,” Kahrmann said. He said he hopes to meet with board members now that the case is resolved. “The Crime Victims Board is an honorable group of people, but they probably got some bad guidance.”

The board’s general counsel, John Watson, said it would have to review Ceresia’s decision before determining if it would change procedures at the agency.

Watson said the board gets about a half-dozen lawsuits each year similar to Kahrmann’s and there are currently three outstanding. Kahrmann sued under Article 78 of state law which allows people to go to court and fight decisions by government agencies.

Watson couldn’t immediately say how many people receive telephone therapy that is paid for by the board. Previous board officials have said it wasn’t more than a handful at most.

In 1984, Kahrmann was shot in the head during a mugging in New York City, where he lived at the time. After surgery to save his life, he spent a year cooped up in his apartment until Buse, a clinical social worker, helped him deal with the trauma.

Kahrmann became active in advocating for people with brain injuries and when he moved to Berne, continued with the occasional therapy sessions with Buse by phone.

Rick Karlin can be reached at 454-5758 or by e-mail at


Written December 6, 2006

New York City has made a decision that may very well save lives. It will certainly contribute to the quality of life and maybe even the lengthen the life of its restaurant-going citizens.

Today’s New York Times reports that NYC has adopted “the nation’s first major municipal ban on the use of all but tiny amounts of artificial trans fats in restaurant cooking, a move that would radically transform the way food is prepared in thousands of restaurants, from McDonald’s to fashionable bistros to Chinese take-outs.”

Trans fats are directly linked to heart disease. Moreover, NYC will now require fast food chains and others to reveal that calories in the food they serve, a great step in addressing a nationwide obesity epidemic.

But the greed-drenched mind of the National Restaurant Association isn’t happy. The NYT quotes Dan Flesher, a spokesman for the National Restaurant Association as saying “This is a misguided attempt at social engineering by a group of physicians who don’t understand the restaurant industry.” How Mr. Flesher and those of his ilk sleep at night is beyond me. What NYC and most people know is trans-fat kills and calories contribute to obesity and obesity kills. NYC has done what all people hope their governments will do, it has sought to make the world a safer place.

How groups like the National Restaurant Association can support a product that kills and causes heartbreak in familes across the nation is something I can’t comprehend. Public officials taking real steps to make the world safer is something I comprehend, welcome and digest quite comfortably, thank you very much.

The Draft, The New York Times and an Editorial Oil Spill

Written November 21, 2006

Finding a drop of ignorance in a New York Times editorial is not a commonplace occurrence. Finding an editorial oil spill in a New York Times editorial is so staggering an event I want to find some editorial scientists (if there are such a thing) and ask them to confirm the discovery. I say this because there was a major spill in today’s editorial criticizing New York Representative Charles Rangel’s proposal to bring back the draft. I’ll show you exactly where in a moment.

News reports say a primary reason behind Mr. Rangel’s proposal is his accurate assessment that the all-volunteer army, as currently designed, leaves most of the fighting (and dying and suffering) to the underprivileged and their families and friends while the well-heeled and well-connected get a pass. The editorial oil spill in today’s Times is this; “While there are plenty of underprivileged in the current force, at least they are there by their own choosing.” Maybe so. But what the writer does not understand is this. When you are underprivileged in this country (or any country for that matter) you do not have as many choices as the more fortunate. Not even close. It is not uncommon for an underprivileged man or woman to choose the service because there they will get food, clothing, shelter and healthcare.

The New York Times editorial page has a well-earned reputation for extraordinary marksmanship when it come to human rights and equal treatment for all. But again, there is no perfection, not on any editorial page.

Now I don’t know if Mr. Rangel’s call for the draft is, in fact, the best choice. But bless him for having the courage to propose it because there is one thing I do know; something must be done that requires all young men and women to serve their country in a time of war. Perhaps if all had to answer the call, there would be less war. Now that’s not a bad idea at all.


I start this journal hoping to be a voice that calls attention to what I see as an increasing disregard for human rights. Each of us is born with the right to be who we are safely in the world around us. The amount of hatred and emotional, physical, political, cultural and financial violence I see aimed at people because they have different beliefs is appalling, and violates everything a civilized society stands for.I do not know what impact, if any, the words I set down here will have. But I do pledge to be honest and avoid judgment as best I can, although that will be hard.

My life journey thus far has had its fair share of wounds and traumas. Because of them though I’ve done some learning along the way. While I will not burden you, the reader, with their every detail, I will identify some of the events that have led me to begin this journal.

I have, as the About Me section says, been shot in the head at point blank range and live with a brain injury as a result. I have lived through the suicides of my adoptive-mother, brother and birth-father. My adoptive father, the greatest gift life has ever provided me, died when I was 15. I have been on my own since I was 16. I lived through some years of homelessness and am a recovering alcoholic.

Well, there you have a bit of background. I have a few subjects in mind to write about in the coming days. In the meantime, I wish you well and thank you for taking the time to read this.

Warmth and respect,

Peter S. Kahrmann

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