Supervisor Matt Veitch Issues “Final” Statement On The Mental Health Issue. Good Luck Matt

At 4:32 PM this afternoon, Matt Veitch emailed a Statement to the area newspapers.

The indifference to transparency and accountability of Supervisor Veitch’s statement is quite impressive.  Mr. Veitch avoids the danger of talking directly to the press by issuing a carefully crafted statement that ends with “ This will be the final public statement the County will make regarding the current situation at the Mental Health Center.”

The Saratogian got in under the wire and received answers to their questions although apparently even those were done by email.  This statement was sent to the Saratogian, the Gazette, the Times Union, and Saratoga Today.  So I guess those newspapers will not have the privilege of asking any questions of anyone from the county.

Analysis

Veitch asserts that “The County used the same hiring process it has used for many years in hiring the current Director, as well as past Directors.”

First, the fact that there is a history of the county improperly usurping the legal responsibilities of the Community Services Board in no way excuses the violation of the law.  If anything it is a further indictment that they have been ignoring the law for years.

In fact, Dr. Dale Angstrom was selected by the Community Services Board.  The next director along with Dr. Prezioso was hired by the county.

Veitch’s carefully crafted statement never acknowledges the law.  It is as if the law does not exist.  Nor does he entertain the idea that maybe they should review the law and follow it.  Obviously, Supervisor Veitch prefers controlling the patronage.  Why allow some professionals in the mental health field on a board to interfere.

The statement also does not acknowledge the unpleasant fact that both he and Hellwig made statements that the CSB hired Prezioso when the published facts document that this was not true.

The statement does not acknowledge that Saratoga County is out of compliance with the Mental Hygiene law in that they no longer have a functioning Community Services Board.  According to the FOIL response from the county, the CSB has no mission statement, no bylaws, and no minutes.  We also have a letter from the chair of the CSB in which they state they did not select Prezioso nor do they know what their role is.  Again, Supervisor Veitch does not entertain the idea that the failure of the CSB to function according to the law is a problem.

Mr. Veitch states, “The County has discussed with Dr. Prezioso certain allegations (my emphasis) made against him at his previous place of employment and we are satisfied with his explanation of the events.”  I rather enjoy how delicate they are about Dr. Prezioso’s history of sexual harassment.  It’s disingenuous and frankly an insult to one’s intelligence that the Chair of the Board of Supervisors put his name to the prepared narrative, asserting against all evidence to the contrary that the Capital District Psychiatric Center incident was a mere “allegation” left to be refuted in a presumably closed interview.  It was an allegation on day 1, until OMH investigated, and made a formal finding of wrongful conduct against Dr. P; paid compensation to the complainant for her injuries suffered; removed him from the line of her direct supervision; and he did not appeal or in any way alter the hospital’s [CDPC’s] finding, which means the determination stands as final, a matter of established fact.

As to the statement by Veitch that none of the psychiatrists left because of the poisonous atmosphere, this is also false and hopefully one of those doctors will eventually speak out.

It is also incredibly self serving that the County investigated themselves and found themselves innocent.  It is possible that the CSEA agrees with them.  Let’s remember this is the same union that supported Raucci at the Schenectady School district until he was arrested and went to jail.  It is also possible that CSEA does not agree with them.  After all, the track record of the county making statements that are consistent with the public record is not good

Veitch’s statement also obscures the management problems there by saying that no individual action investigated by the county rose to the level of firing.  They acknowledge  though that “… some were counseled as to proper workplace conduct.”    This little phrase “workplace conduct” is the issue.  Prezioso is one of those managers who creates factions of those considered loyal and those considered disloyal.  The conflicts of such factions erode the morale of an organization.

It will be interesting to see how the area newspapers respond.

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