In a recent advocacy-email to individuals involved with New Yorkers with brain injuries, I revealed the annual salary of a New York State Deputy Dept. of Health Commissioner Mark Kissinger. A few people whose opinions I deeply respect and value called into question my decision to reveal Kissinger’s salary. As a result, I’ve given the matter a great deal of thought.
After doing so I arrived again at the belief that exposing his salary and the salary of others is not only the right thing to do, it is the just thing to do.
It would be a mistake to conclude my decision to reveal Kissinger’s salary was a kneejerk impulse on my part. It wasn’t. The genesis of the decision, and the continued foundation of the decision can be found by looking at one simple fact. The salaries of state employees are available to the public because they are being paid to serve the public. A visit to the website for the New York State Committee on Open Government reveals that nearly all records are available to the the public – including salaries. Therefore, the following line of reasoning holds no water for me. Salaries are available to the public but one is being unfair or unjust if they actually inform the public.
I think New Yorkers have a right to know what their state employees being paid. I think their right to know, and the importance of them knowing, goes up notch when, as in this case, th state employees are preparing – with what a reasonable person would believe is Governor Andrew Cuomo’s blessing – to demolish the lives of thousand of New Yorkers on the state’s Traumatic Brain Injury Waiver, and put some of those trying to provide needed services to these men and women out of business for good measure.
The NYSDOH has drafted a plan (without the input of stakeholders, including neurologists and neuropsychologists and without referencing a single study regarding traumatic brain injury, to transfer thousands of New Yorkers with brain injuries into managed care) that will not include the very services these individuals need and quire frankly deserve to remain in the community.
As a native New Yorker, I want to know how much money you’re getting paid to wreck the lives of thousand of my New Yorkers.
I do very much understand the concern of a few close to me over my decision to reveal Kissinger’s salary. They’re not comfortable with it, in many respects because each of them is a decent, caring, sensitive-to-others person. I am very fortunate to have people like this in my life.
There is yet another reason for my decision. I know many, many New Yorkers with brain injuries. Many of them and a large number of their family members are my friends. People I love and care about. So, if our friends are the family we pick, then the NYSDOH is looking to destroy the lives of some of my family members. And, yes, that makes me mad.
So, here’s some information for you; the rounded off salaries in 2014 for the following DOH staff:
Valerie Deetz, $120,000; Jason Helgerson, $163,000; Maribeth Gnozzio, $86,000,: Sue Kelly, $162,000; Mark Kissinger, $163,000. This comes to a total of $694,000. In other words, more than a half million New York dollars are being paid to the very people pushing a plan that will destroy the lives of thousands of New Yorkers and put a fair number of New York companies out of business.
I think that should make any New Yorker mad. Hell, I think it should make any decent human being mad.