Letter: Altschuler Has Foley All Wrong

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone

To the Editor,

There's a saying that "character is what we do when we think no one is looking." In politics, character is doing the right thing even when it goes against your self-interest.

The Suffolk County Association of Municipal Employees public sector union recently screened Congressman Tim Bishop and his opponent Randy Altschuler. In exchange for their endorsement, they pushed the candidates to take a stand against my proposal to sell the John J Foley Skilled Nursing Facility to a private buyer; despite the fact that my plan will reduce next year's deficit by $30 million, keep all the patients at the facility and require the buyer to offer union jobs to all the current employees.

Congressman Bishop has a nearly 100 percent pro-labor record and is the only federal official who attempted to stem the losses at the facility, when he allowed veterans on Tricare to be eligible to be placed there. However, he understands that the county has an enormous deficit and that we cannot afford to raise taxes on Suffolk County residents above the tax cap. Even though it would have been easy for him to have just said, "Sure, I'm against selling Foley" in order to get an endorsement, he chose to stay out of this non-federal issue.

Randy Altschuler is a self-proclaimed tea party conservative. While approximately 85 percent of the patients at the Foley facility rely on Medicaid, Altschuler supports the Paul Ryan budget which would cut Medicaid by $810 billion, forcing millions off the program and cutting rates to facilities like Foley. Altschuler tells tea party groups he wants to cut the size of government and then tells public sector unions he opposes efforts to reduce the size of THEIR government. He claims to respect local government yet when his own self-interest is at stake, inserts his opinion into a non-federal issue.

This week, Randy Altschuler received the endorsement of the Suffolk County Association of Municipal Employees because he spoke out against the sale.

Two candidates, two choices which speak volumes about their character. Suffolk County deserves to be represented by people who do the right thing when no one is looking and are willing to do the right thing for the people, even when it goes against their own self interest. This is just one more example of why Tim Bishop has the character to serve Suffolk County and why his opponent does not.

Steve Bellone
Suffolk County Executive