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State, local leaders weigh in on Dr. Zucker’s resignation

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State, local leaders weigh in on Dr. Zucker’s resignation

ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) — State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker resigned during her COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday morning. Hochul says he will remain in his role until they hire a new health commissioner.

Dr. Zucker faced criticism during the pandemic, particularly with nursing homes, and now state and local leaders are sharing their thoughts on him stepping down:

“Dr. Zucker’s resignation marks the end of a difficult chapter for our state. While I thank him for his service, we need more transparency and accountability at the Department of Health as we continue to battle COVID-19. I look forward to working with the next health commissioner, who must safeguard the health and wellbeing of all New Yorkers, especially the most vulnerable, and must do so with openness and great care.”

Letitia James
Attorney General

“The resignation of Howard Zucker as State Health Commissioner is a positive, necessary, long-overdue step for New York. While we can finally begin the fresh start that our state needs, Zucker’s resignation does not equal a clean slate. There still must be answers, accountability, and justice regarding the tragic nursing home deaths that took place because of Zucker and Cuomo’s disastrous, deadly mandate. Families, my Senate Republican colleagues, and I have continually demanded this since the spring of 2020.”

“We must set a firm precedent for current and future leaders that the truth and public health will not fall victim to politics or political cover-ups, such as those perpetrated by former Governor Cuomo, Zucker, and their enablers. Our state lost over 15,000 senior citizens due to Cuomo and Zucker’s deadly mandate that forced nursing homes to take in COVID-19 positive patients. Zucker and Cuomo tried to cover up their disastrous policy but the truth—and families—were more powerful than their schemes. I am thankful for the strength, courage, and resilience of the families that stood with us, and I will continue advocating for Zucker’s resignation to not be the final word in this important effort to ensure accountability in state government.”

Daphne Jordan
State Senator representing Halfmoon

“Commissioner Howard Zucker put the political interests of his boss, Governor Cuomo, ahead of the public’s best interests during the Covid public health crisis. Today’s announcement of his resignation while long overdue is certainly welcomed news.

“The state health department’s directive which forced nursing homes to take in Covid-positive residents was a terrible mistake that directly led to the loss of many lives. But even more reprehensible was the Cuomo administration’s deliberate cover up of the nursing home data while the former governor penned his $5 million memoir.

“Many of us were also dismayed when Cuomo and Zucker bypassed our well-trained and well-prepared county health departments for vaccine distribution. Instead, a confusing and frustrating state distribution system had some seniors driving three hours across the Adirondacks in the middle of winter for a vaccine rather than getting one close to home.

“Many questions about the nursing home reporting scandal remain unanswered and I’d like to see Zucker face questioning under oath to get to the whole truth. While Zucker’s resignation doesn’t absolve him or Cuomo from responsibility, it will at least enable the Department of Health to move out from under the horrible shadow of controversy and distrust that their actions cast across the state.”

Dan Stec
State Senator representing Glens Falls

“Sadly, in New York corrupt governors and their sycophant henchmen who don’t take responsibility for their bad actions don’t get impeached or fired…they just skulk away. Good riddance to Dr. Zucker, who should have been fired last year as I was among the first legislators to call for. Zucker should be removed today immediately and an interim Health Department Commissioner should be named. The families of the 15,000 New Yorkers who lost their lives to COVID-19 in nursing homes that Zucker and former Governor Cuomo covered-up still deserve an apology and justice for what happened to their loved ones – one of the worst tragedies in New York State history.”

Jim Tedisco
State Senator representing Glenville

“Howard Zucker should have been asked to resign on day one of the new administration, and while I’m glad to see him stepping down now, I remain concerned his replacement will favor the mandate-heavy approach taken by the previous administration that has continued under Hochul,” said Tague. “In fighting the spread of COVID-19, we must be sure our approach is nuanced and based on the circumstances each unique region in our state faces as a whole. Unnecessary one-size-fits-all mandates like the ones implemented by the previous administration do little to protect health, and take an enormous toll on families and small businesses. My hope is that his successor will be more calculated in managing the COVID-19 pandemic while respecting the realities faced by businesses and New York families, as well as their rights.”

Chris Tague
Assemblymember representing Schoharie

“Howard Zucker’s resignation is welcome news to all the local public health officials whose input into COVID-19 he ignored, to all the medical professionals who had to endure a Department of Health agenda driven by politics over public health necessities, and to the thousands of families whose loved ones’ deaths were covered up by him, under orders he falsely claimed were based on science.

To be clear, his resignation should’ve happened in January, when I first called for it. Howard Zucker chose to protect Andrew Cuomo’s political career above protecting the health of New Yorkers. We hope that he and Andrew Cuomo have occasion to continue discussing and refining their warped version of science during their retirement from public service.”

Rob Ortt
State Senate Republican Leader

“Dr. Howard Zucker’s resignation as Commissioner of the State Department of Health (DOH) was an obvious and overdue step. That’s why I, and members of the Assembly Minority Conference, called on Gov. Hochul to make an immediate change. While he remains at DOH until a replacement is named, arriving at this point should not have taken so long.

Throughout the COVID pandemic, Dr. Zucker was more interested in protecting Andrew Cuomo’s image than protecting public health. As Gov. Hochul begins the process of finding a new health commissioner, I hope she looks for an individual without ties to the previous administration or the numerous controversies that defined it.”

Will Barclay
Assembly Republican Leader

“Howard Zucker should have been fired! He was the Cuomo/Hochul Administration’s right hand man carrying out the deadly nursing home order and cover up and having state Health Department employees provide preferential COVID testing to the administration’s friends and family at private residences and then moving the samples to the front of the line at the state lab. Instead of kicking Zucker to the curb, Kathy Hochul is letting him hang around for a couple extra months, and depart on his terms, giving him a pat on the back on the way out for a supposed job well done. What a joke!”

Lee Zeldin
Congressman representing Long Island, GOP candidate for NYS Governor

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Annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s to raise awareness and funds for research

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Annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s to raise awareness and funds for research

ST. LOUIS – The annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s is back this year. The goal is not just to raise awareness about the disease but to also to raise funds for research.

The walk is happening at the Enterprise Center beginning at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

So far, the Alzheimer’s Association has raised more than $800,000, not too far away from reaching its goal of $1.3 million.

This progressive disease affects millions of Americans. In fact, the CDC says in 2020, as many as 5.8 million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s disease.

The number of people living with the disease doubles every 5 years beyond age 65. That number is projected to nearly triple to 14 million people by 2060.

During the walk you’ll see people carrying flowers of different colors, each color representing the person’s connection to the disease.

A purple flower is for those who have lost a someone to the disease. A yellow flower represents someone who is currently supporting or caring for a person living with Alzheimer’s.

Registration for the walk is at 7:30 a.m. There will be a ceremony at 9:15 and the walk begins at 9:30 a.m.

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‘Holy grail‘ of American folk art discovered St. Louis yard

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‘Holy grail‘ of American folk art discovered St. Louis yard

ST. LOUIS – Art historians are calling it the holy grail of a find, a rare work of art found in a St. Louis front yard. What looked like a lawn ornament is now headed to a museum in New York.   

It’s a sculpture of two sisters that sat in the front yard of a St. Louis home that’s been on quite a journey. First rediscovered in 2019 by a gentleman named John Foster, an art historian.     

For years the sculpture entitled “Martha and Mary” sat on a bench in the city of St. Louis before an art historian saw it while out on a stroll. 

“That didn’t look like the commonly seen concrete lawn ornament that we are used to seeing,” said Valerie Rousseau, senior curator American Folk Art Museum & Exhibition chair. 

Sally Bliss had inherited this Martha and Mary sculpture, and it sat outside her home in New York when she was a ballet dancer. Years later after her first husband died, she moved to St. Louis when she met her second husband, Jim Connette. 

“I had it and put it out in my garden in Long Island, which was our main house, and brought it with me and put it on the bench,” Bliss said.

“I knew it was valuable. But I knew that nobody would steal it because it looked like it was part of the bench and would be really difficult to pick up that bench and steal the whole thing.” 

This lawn sculpture was originally made by artist William Edmondson, the famed black sculptor from Nashville, Tennessee.

The ‘two sisters’ sculpture had been featured at the Museum of Modern Art in 1937 in New York and later Paris, France. 

Today, William Edmondson is considered a preeminent black sculptor, although he didn’t start sculpting until 1934 when he was 60 years old, and only made 300 sculptures over the course of 15 years. 

Using limestone from demolished buildings.  

“Like most museums, we have to have supporters to acquire such artwork,” Rousseau said. “Prices for Edmundson sculptures can be $350,000 to $800,000.”   

And after some conversations and a cleaning, Martha and Mary are headed back to New York. This time, the sculpture will be the centerpiece of the American Museum of Folk Art. Debuting this January on the celebration of the museum’s 60th year. 

Thanks to the generosity of a man named Brian Donnelly, this sculpture and its wild ride of a story will reside in the Big Apple.  

“I was sad,” Bliss said. “But I knew that this was the right place for it to go and especially to New York and so many people will see it and he will get his due and to me, that’s more important than me having to be sad because I’m losing that work of art.” 

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Working Strategies: Quitting your job Part 2 — Consider your personal finances

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Working Strategies: Quitting your job Part 1: What to do at work

Do you know what the problem is for people who quit jobs? It’s the timing. People tend to wait too long, then quit all of a sudden, leaving themselves with a pile of unfinished business.

Amy Lindgren

Sometimes that business is emotional, with workers’ feelings of being unappreciated accumulating to a toxic level by the time they exit. There’s usually some unfinished business in the job itself, and in the worker’s career as well, not to mention the feeling of being unprepared personally or financially.

Which brings us back to timing: What’s with that pattern of staying too long and suddenly exiting? For one thing, it’s usually a difficult decision. Most people will delay the real or perceived conflict of quitting for as long as they can, opting to adapt to difficult situations instead.

Others may not recognize that their sense of discontent in life may be rooted in a job that no longer challenges them. If the job itself is reasonable, it’s easy to disregard the nibbling sense that something doesn’t quite fit.

And others may just prefer the known downsides of the current job over the potential (but unknown) upsides of a new position.

Regardless of the reasons for a delay, the truth is, most people eventually do leave their jobs and you probably will too. If you’re near the end of your career, the leave-taking might be through retirement or illness, but otherwise you’re likely to quit for reasons that range from new employment to business startup to just needing time off.

Once you acknowledge that fact, you can take more control of the timing. Instead of disregarding the mounting discontent until you can’t take any more, you can plan steps and processes to follow. Whether these unfold over the course of weeks or years is up to you – which is exactly the point.

To help you organize those steps, last week’s column provided five things to do in your current job before quitting. Today we’ll look at five things to do in your personal finances, and next week’s column will finish the series with a look at five things to do in your career before stepping out the door.

Organize (or pay down) your debt. It’s a rare person who doesn’t have debt, whether that’s a mortgage, car loan, student loan, credit cards, or a combination of all of these. The reason to review these accounts while you’re working is three-fold: One, what you discover may influence your timing; two, if you want to make a major purchase, that will be easier while you’re still working; and three, strategies such as refinancing your mortgage to achieve lower payments will be more difficult after you quit.

This step holds true even if you’re quitting to start a new job, because longevity in your position is often considered in lending decisions. And it’s a hundred times more true if you’re quitting to start a business — one of the most difficult positions from which to re-organize one’s debt.

Retirement accounts. Decisions to roll over a 401(k), to set up a new retirement account, or to convert an IRA to a Roth are all things best considered before quitting, while you have the most options available.

Health insurance. You don’t need to be reminded, but just in case: Be sure you know what health insurance options will be available after you leave your job. If any steps can be handled now, you’ll appreciate not having that burden later, when the timing could be more critical.

Take your sick days. Speaking of health … have you used your sick time? Those days have been set aside for you to use in taking care of your health, so now’s the time to schedule your preventative care. This is especially smart if your sick days are “use it or lose it” in terms of payout.

Figure out your cash flow. If you’re taking another job, this step may be built-in, since you’ve already negotiated your next salary. But if you’re leaving without another source of income, you’ll enjoy the getaway more if there’s gas in the car. Don’t just assume that your savings will cover you. Make a decision about how much of your savings you’re willing to spend before you need a new income source.

If all of these personal finance steps are starting to kill your enthusiasm for quitting, don’t worry. You’ll get your motivation back next week when you review the steps to take in your career to ensure a good transition.

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