At some point, the state comptroller, the state health commissioner or the state attorney general might find themselves in Proctors’ main theater.
If they’re sitting in the main level, they should take a look around. The number of people who’d be sitting with them is about equal to the number of retirees from St. Clare’s Hospital who’ve been deprived of their pensions.
That’s a lot of hard-working, caring professionals who have been placed in financial peril by a government, an employer and a church that have let them down.
The lack of movement on resolving the situation in their favor has prompted state Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara and Sen. Jim Tedisco to engage in some legislative arm-twisting.
They’ve proposed a bill (A7503/S5596) that would prohibit the state Department of State from dissolving the pension fund’s corporate structure, the St. Clare’s Corp., until the completion of an investigation or audit by the state Department of Health, the attorney general or the comptroller into potential impropriety or mismanagement of the fund.
Allowing the corporation to dissolve might make the restoration process more difficult and time-consuming when or if money is found to support it.
But so far, these top state officials have rejected local efforts to get them to look more deeply into the pension fund.
Maybe if they had a sense of the enormity of the problem in terms of the sheer numbers of affected individuals, they’d reconsider.
State lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, should support this bill, as it only calls for an investigation, not a solution or the expenditure of state money. Wouldn’t they support it if it affected their own constituents?
Not only would passage of this legislation give state officials time to investigate, it would give the state and the Albany Diocese of the Catholic Church more time to work out a potential financial solution to the pension issue.
Credit Santabarbara and Tedisco for keeping up the pressure on state officials to do their jobs and investigate.
Without consistent attention from state and local representatives, this issue will go away, and so will any chance that the St. Clare’s pensioners will get relief.