Representation lacked in County Home vote

Editor’s note: This editorial appeared in The Post-Journal of Jamestown on Friday.

Some Jamestown residents are probably feeling the sting after the collective slap in the face they received Wednesday night.

After months of ill-advised and often misguided rhetoric to keep the Chautauqua County Home in the public sector, legislators Lori Cornell, Robert Whitney and Tim Hoyer got their way. It is painfully clear all three Democratic legislators simply turned a deaf ear to the majority of their constituents who, time and again, told them to sell a county-owned nursing home bleeding thousands of dollars a day.

We have to wonder if they would be making the same irresponsible decisions if it were their own money. Being a legislator isn’t a board game where the player passes “Go” and gets more money.

Cornell should have recused herself from the vote after making it known that her grandmother was once a resident at the County Home. At a time residents in Jamestown needed a clear-minded legislator, they got a self-serving lawmaker who allowed emotions to take over.

Then there’s Hoyer and Whitney, both of whom made it clear from the onset they would never vote to sell the County Home. As the process moved forward, so did their reasoning for keeping the Dunkirk nursing facility.

“I’m voting ‘no’ because the contract came up fast. I’m voting ‘no.’ I don’t like the buyer,” Whitney said Wednesday.

Cornell and Whitney’s concerns over the Rothner family’s other nursing homes have been well publicized. Surely enough protections had been written into the contract to protect the home’s residents while still selling the property, protecting county taxpayers in the process. Voters and taxpayers expect legislators to navigate such tricky issues, not to simply punt the issue down the road at considerable cost to taxpayers.

Jamestown residents in legislative districts 12, 14 and 15 might as well have lived in Pennsylvania. They simply did not play a factor in their legislators’ decision.

Not all legislators in Jamestown, though, ignored their constituents. Chuck Nazzaro, Paula DeJoy and Vickye James – Democrats all – did the right thing. They listened to the people in their district. John Runkle, R-Stockton, also should be commended. After taking the lead to find potential savings for the cash-hemorrhaging County Home, Runkle must have seen the writing on the wall. This legislature needs more critical-thinking lawmakers like Runkle and Vince Horrigan, R-Bemus Point.

So now the county must go back and start the process all over again to find a buyer, but there’s no reason to believe a white knight will appear this time around. The county already tried marketing the home, with William “Avi” Rothner the best choice of the bids received. And if some buyer does come out of the woodwork with an offer, what excuse will Cornell, Whitney and Hoyer have to keep the home this time?

They have run out of ways to say they just don’t care about their constituents.

All three legislators ignored their responsibilities to the people in their district. All three should find a new hobby by the next election cycle. Anyone wanting to run against Cornell, Whitney or Hoyer simply needs to bring up the day these three decided the people who put them into office didn’t matter.

Jamestown certainly deserves better representation.