Memo To Peter Martin And Matt Veitch For July 7 City Council Meeting Re County Mental Health Department

As the last item on the agenda at each city council meeting, the city’s two supervisors report to the council.  With the exception of some brief and vacuous statements at the last meeting, they have had nothing to say in their reports about the problems at the county mental health department.  Below is an email I sent to both of them with copies to the city council asking them to address the improper hiring of Dr. Michael Prezioso.  Transparency is one of the most over used words in politics but hopefully they will be forced to actually say something substantial at Tuesday nights meeting.  I plan to post a link to the video of whatever they say (if they actually say anything).

Memo

To: Matt Veitch, Peter Martin

Subject: Questions Re The Mental Health Department Problems

Date: July 4, 2015

I respectfully request that when you both report  at Tuesday’s City Council meeting you address the questions below.  I am sure you both firmly share my feelings that our elected officials should be prepared to answer thoughtful questions:

  1. As chairman of the Board of Supervisors, can Michael Veitch explain the discrepancy between his and County Administrator Spenser Hellwig’s statements as to the hiring of  Michael Prezioso in the position of Director of Mental Health for Saratoga County and the public record.   Both Chairman  Veitch and Administrator Hellwig have made public statements that it was the Community Services Board that made the decision to hire Michael Prezioso and not the Board of Supervisors. The public record, however, shows that the Community Services Board was only asked to vet the applicants for the position of County Director of Mental Health and to forward names to the County Board of  Supervisor’s Personnel Committee.  The record further shows that the Personnel Committee then selected Michael Prezioso and their recommendation to hire him was voted on affirmatively at a county Board of Supervisors meeting on July 15, 2014.
  2. In light of the requirement under New York State Mental Hygiene law ( see below) that the Community Services Board and not the County Board of Supervisors  hire the  County Director of Mental Health, can either Supervisor Peter Martin or Supervisor Veitch explain why they are not advocating that the position of mental health director be vacated and a new hiring process initiated that adheres to the Mental Hygiene law?
  3. Has the County Attorney been asked to offer an opinion on this matter and if so, when can the public reasonably expect his opinion.

Here is the relevant excerpt from the statute (the board referenced here is the community services board:

NY Mental Hygiene Law §41.09

  1. Charter governments may provide for appointment and removal of directors in a manner authorized by such governments. In all other local governments, the board shall appoint and remove the director. Salaries and allowable expenses shall be set by the appointing authority. (b) Each director shall be a psychiatrist or other professional person who meets standards set by the commissioner for the position. If the director is not a physician, he shall not have the power to conduct examinations authorized to be conducted by an examining physician or by a director of community services pursuant to this chapter but he shall designate an examining physician who shall be empowered to conduct such examinations on behalf of such director. A director need not reside in the area to be served. The director shall be a full-time employee except in cases where the commissioner has expressly waived the requirement….

The resolution passed by the Board of Supervisors:

Adopted July 15, 2014

APPOINTING MICHAEL S. PREZIOSO, Ph.D. AS DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES

WHEREAS, by reason of the retirement of Hans H. Lehr a vacancy has been created in the position of Director of

Community Mental Health Services; and

WHEREAS, this Board of Supervisors is authorized to appoint the Director of Community Mental Health

Services pursuant to Mental Hygiene Law §41.09; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that Michael S. Prezioso, Ph.D., of the Town of Ballston, New York, be and he hereby is appointed

to the position of Director of Community Mental Health Services at Salary Grade No. 21, STEP 1; and be it further

RESOLVED, that this Resolution shall take effect September 12, 2014.

This is from the Gazette Newspaper describing the role of the Community Services Board:

The Daily Gazette

Thursday, July 3, 2014

http://www.dailygazette.com/ See HTML Version of article

Prezioso chosen for Saratoga County mental health post

BALLSTON SPA — Dr. Michael Prezioso is being recommended to become Saratoga County’s new director of mental health.

The Board of Supervisors’ Personnel Committee on Wednesday recommended him to replace Hans Lehr, who retired in March.

Prezioso, a psychologist, is currently director of inpatient services at the Capital District Psychiatric Center in Albany, where he has worked for 17 years. He was selected from among four applicants recommended by the county’s Community Services Board, said county Personnel Committee Chairwoman Anita M. Daly, R-Clifton Park.

Assuming the Personnel Committee recommendation is approved by the Board of Supervisors later this month, Prezioso would start work Sept. 12. The position has a starting annual salary of $95,338.

In the position, Prezioso will lead the county’s mental health department. The department operates an outpatient treatment clinic, a day-treatment program, and an alcoholism-treatment program, all based at a building on South Broadway in Saratoga Springs. The department averages 1,700 to 2,000 active cases at any given time.

CC: Members of the Saratoga Springs City Council

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