By Charles F. Otey, Esq.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Battle of LICH Reveals New Power in Courthouse
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has received a lot of credit for slowing down the decapitation of Long Island Hospital. And, as we’ve noted here before, the steady coverage in the Eagle by Mary Frost and Charisma Miller has helped keep the assault on LICH focused on the Cobble Hill/Brooklyn Heights scene.
There are lingering, unanswered questions hovering over the entire debate whether to save or sell Long Island College Hospital. Why has SUNY done so little to counter the growing wave of bad publicity?
The people at SUNY have stonewalled so hard and so long that their very reluctance to spell out their planned-for fate of the $1 billion LICH property has become the issue! Charges of “cover-up,” “sellout,” “political deal” and others have gone virtually unchallenged.
SUNY has been mired in an unenviable quagmire. They’ve tried to shut down LICH despite court orders to the contrary. Most important, in an era where health costs are soaring and good, functioning hospitals a disappearing breed, SUNY leaders have been cold-hearted, close-mouthed and deceitful, adopting a bunker mentality hoping to weather the storm of protest.
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Why Doesn’t SUNY Publish Plan for LICH?
What if there were actually a viable plan to sell the property and use a good portion of the profits to maintain LICH in the process? What if there were public, written guarantees signed and witnessed by elected officials going into great detail about how a new, slightly streamlined facility might be put in place?
What if the penny-pinching people at SUNY were to admit that LICH shouldn’t be closed that they are under an obligation to provide health care to all because taxpayers are already paying for it!
We received an interesting comment from a respected Kings figure this week who told us that there are already 17 bidders on the LICH property. This is promising news. It’s time SUNY opened the bids to wider scrutiny. So long as SUNY principals keep everyone in the dark, ample doubt remains as to what will happen to LICH if the property is sold.
Why can’t at least a few of the anxious developers publicize their bids in graphic detail, complete with architects’ renderings, proving that LICH will remain a hospital serving the people – not just a piece of property about to be sold to the highest bidder?
So far there have been denials, closure of entire hospital units and unexplained shifting of funds.
It is good news that there are indeed 17 bidders. If SUNY stops hiding, the crisis can be resolved. But the plans will have to withstand the light of day
All the protestors seem to want are guarantees that a true quality hospital will be maintained. Isn’t it time SUNY fairly and honestly engaged in this debate instead of cowering behind a largely imagined fiscal crisis?
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Eagle Reporters Ignited Citywide LICH Coverage
How can a local paper like the Eagle ignite citywide coverage? Historically and especially as staffs dwindle, those known as the gatekeepers in the mass media regularly and religiously comb through borough or neighborhood newspaper or web sites looking for ready-made stories. Sometimes, as in this case, they strike gold when they are gifted with the steady stream of LICH reporting by Frost and Miller in the Daily Eagle.
It’s only a guess, but they would probably welcome a call from SUNY announcing a press conference at which SUNY spokespeople would boldly and honestly present plans for a guaranteed LICH future.
Meantime, Eagle Managing Editor Raanan Geberer has come up with yet another rationale to explain why the LICH survival cause has gained such strong backing. He believes that LICH just happens to be located in the right place at the right time.
Geberer has regularly “placed/featured” the LICH plight on Eagle front pages for well over two years. So, he is very much aware that the Long Island College Hospital battle has received at lot of attention and very fair justice in the Kings County court system. At the same time, the growing concentration of Brooklyn leaders in the new Downtown area has been a boon to the LICH supporters, he writes.
LICH is the hometown hospital for people who have the capacity and position to do something about its fate. And, we add, the Eagle is their hometown newspaper.
The Eagle has stirred the pot, attracting the attention of the mass media. But as any courthouse lawyer knows, the Eagle is the most intensely focused local paper–its circulation area encompasses ground zero in the neighborhoods served by Long Island College Hospital.
As Geberer points out, “LICH is not only the hospital for the nearby residential areas, it’s also the closest hospital for the people who work in Downtown Brooklyn – including the court system."
Thousands of new jobs have been added to the Downtown-Metrotech area in the past 15 years. Though the courts have had to pare staffs, the private sector employers are making money.
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Local LICH Backers Now Have More ‘Proof’
We suggest local leaders from the Brooklyn Heights Association and others clip the Geberer article and mass-distribute copies at upcoming public meetings. In the old days, these quiet brownstone neighborhoods and their court system neighbors had difficulty winning respect from the powers that be (usually in Manhattan.)
As polls indicate, de Blasio is likely to be engaged in a runoff with former Comptroller Bill Thompson, a man with superb credentials.
Thompson surprised everyone by coming within 5 percentage points of Mayor loomberg four years ago. After this week’s primary, assuming it’s a DiBlasio-Thompson run-off, Thompson still has time to make his case – his candidacy having largely obscured by more heated issues.
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Zip Code 11201 Scene Of Growing Affluence
Reflecting the nationwide economic recovery, our local 11201 zip code has become one of the most affluent zones in New York state. Ironically, these soaring property values have almost certainly inspired the proposed sale of Long Island College Hospital: One downtown lawyer estimates that the price of LICH properties is probably well over $1 billion!
Geberer detailed the legal-commercial-residential “combine” depending on LICH with this insight: "I have great respect for the officials and community groups representing Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and Red Hook. But add powerful institutions like the court system, city offices, Brooklyn Law School and the Montague Street banks into the mix and you’ll see a rarely discussed, added reason why SUNY might have such great opposition to its plans to close LICH.”
Observers, particularly those in real estate and related fields, see this emerging legal-civic-political juggernaut fashioning a powerful common cause. Already, LICH’s looming fate has inspired and enlivened Brooklyn Heights – see the “Save LICH" posters in those Montague Street store windows. The Heights has become the link connecting neighborhoods from Cobble Hill through Williamsburg and DUMBO. Folks in these newer neighborhoods may be younger than most, but they do keep having babies, and they prefer them to be born in hospitals like the one at the western end of Atlantic Avenue.
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Mandatory CLE Spurred Kings Law Associations
There’s a new season on the legal calendar that’s just getting underway. We refer, of course, to the Continuing Legal Education season, the phenomenon that quickly evolved in the late 1990s with the precedent-setting requirement that CLE was to be mandatory for any attorney who wanted to maintain her license.
Immediately after CLE was instituted, borough-wide and local bar associations came forward with their CLE calendars, calculated to keep their members informed and qualified to meet the biennial requirements of the Office of Court Administration.
Organizations such as the Brooklyn Bar Association, the Kings Columbian Lawyers, led by Robert Musso, and the Bay Ridge Lawyers Association promptly filed the ‘necessary papers’ to qualify as CLE dispensers. (A reliable source claims that the Bay Ridge group was the first to qualify because then-President John Bonina was – and remains -- a CLE hawk. We’ll have to check on this with BBA Exective Director Avery Okin.)
The Kings County Inn of Court, led by President Justice Ellen Spodek, came into being shortly after the turn of the millennium and instantly created and carried out a CLE initiative that features courtroom skits lifted from actual cases and the experiences of their members.
The Columbians have just heard from D.A. Joe Hynes, who outlined his 23 years of successful law enforcement. The Brooklyn Bar Association, with President Andrew Fallek at the helm, kicks off its CLE agenda tonight (Sept. 9) discussing overly complex "Medicare & Medicaid Liens In-Depth." The Bay Ridge Lawyers Association, now entering its 60th year, will start the season with its traditional “Passing of the Gavel” ceremony on Sept. 26, saluting immediate past President Pat Russo and all other attending past presidents.
On Oct. 24, according to incoming President Joann Monaco, the group will learn the facts and nuances of landlord-tenant law from an expert, attorney Sam Hagan.
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So Long to Irwin Kosover
Word went out this past week that Irwin Kosover, the highly respected, legendary defense lawyer passed away over the Labor Day holiday. A man of action, attorney Kosover was a man of his word and a fine lawyer and still covered cases using a walker up until a month ago.
Pro Bono Barrister is asking those who knew and admired Irwin over his 50-year career in the courts to send their comments or stories to [email protected].
They will be used in an upcoming tribute to this man who became a legend decades before he accepted the ultimate verdict.