They say there’s never a cop around when you need one.
Well, what’s being done to the retirees of St. Clare’s Hospital borders on criminal. And no one’s around to help them.
All of the meetings, all the head-shaking and hand-wringing, all the promises and finger-pointing, are getting hospital retirees deprived of their pensions nowhere closer to solvency.
We’re talking about 1,110 real people in our community being hurt by this seemingly unending drama.
People who worked hard for their retirement money tending to the sick among us, who now are getting less than they expected or nothing in retirement.
People like Mary Hartshorne of Delanson, who in a recent letter to the editor, beckoned, “We ... took very good care of many of your family members over the years. Can no one help?”
Or Angela Stewart of Altamont, who worked 40 years full time at St. Clare’s and Ellis as a registered nurse and educator, and who found herself “stunned and upset” that she wasn’t qualified to receive any benefits after the first of this year. “My pension was 44 percent of my monthly income and I now need to rethink my entire future,” she wrote.
Or Jerry and Kathy Adach, who worked at St. Clare’s a combined 59 years and faced the new year having to “brace themselves for a life of no hope and no future.”
The big problem is that no one involved is willing to take responsibility for the dilemma of the pensioners.
The Albany Roman Catholic Diocese was closely connected to St. Clare’s for years, but isn’t offering to pay. The state, which came up with the pension bailout after ordering the hospital closed a decade ago, also threw up its hands.
This cat is going to continue chasing its tail unless someone with the authority to investigate the situation and take legal action steps up and takes control.
We need a cop.
We need the state comptroller’s office to investigate who is really financially responsible for the pension payments and how the currently-inadequate pension plan came about. The comptroller has the staff and expertise to dig into the paper trail and determine responsibility.
The state attorney general’s office should also review the situation to determine whether laws and state regulations were followed. That’s its job.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo should use his clout to make these investigations happen. And state lawmakers should search the state budget for funding.
Good intentions don’t put food on the table and money in the bank. They don’t pay the mortgage or the heating bill.
The retirees from St. Clare’s Hospital need the best efforts of all concerned to help make them whole and ensure them the retirement they’ve earned.
Anything less is just a crime.