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Local News

October 24, 2012

Advocates: Signatures add up against Manor sale

COOPERSTOWN — Advocates for keeping the Otsego Manor as a county-owned nursing home say they have collected more than 1,000 signatures from people opposed to last month’s decision by county lawmakers to privatize the facility.

The petition drive was organized by Manor patient Claire Cardinale, with help from Maureen Culbert of East Springfield, a volunteer at the nursing home who contends the county Board of Representatives failed to adequately research alternatives to selling the 176-bed home to the highest “responsible” buyer.

Culbert said Tuesday that the petition — now holding 1,030 names — will be presented to county representatives at their Nov. 7 meeting in Cooperstown.

Before then, in another demonstration of opposition to the decision to sell the Manor, patients themselves will stage a protest outside the facility from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday, Culbert and Cardinale said.

Although only one member of the 14-member board voted against the resolution to privatize the Manor — Rep. Keith McCarty, R-Springfield — Culbert said she believes public pressure could force the panel to rethink the issue.

Of those who have signed the petition, Culbert said, “I think what they need to do now is to go out and get in touch with their county representatives and tell them: ‘This is not the way to proceed.’”

She said she has also started a Facebook page — “Save the Otsego Manor.”

The board’s decision has also sparked blowback in the form of a lawsuit filed by the Civil Service Employees Association, the union that represents more than 200 workers. The union argues the decision should be nullified based on alleged state Open Meeting Law violations by the board prior to the vote.

Cardinale argued the decision to privatize the Manor will injure the local economy, if it leads to workers seeing their salaries cut by the new operator or losing their jobs altogether. “This is going to lead to foreclosures and more people on food stamps and more people on assistance,” she said.

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