Friday, November 20, 2009

Ulster Health Department report reveals “culture of incompetence”

Ulster Health Department report reveals “culture of incompetence”

Documents piled up in the health department

KINGSTON – Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach Friday called the former operation of the county Health Department “a culture of incompetence.”

He released his 45 page report that talks over the violation of public trust, safety and health issues, questionable payroll practices and a culture of incompetence.

The report was prompted following the dismissal of Director Dean Palen earlier this year by County Executive Michael Hein. That was precipitated by the discovery of $32,000 in uncashed checks and unissued permits found in a locked safe behind the desk of Palen’s wife, who was his administrative assistant.

The comptroller’s office also discovered piles of sanitary sewer applications, public reports and employee grievances that indicated both ineffective internal management and a lack of meaningful external oversight.

“The Palen era was riddled with questionable leadership and a ‘general lack of timely enforcement of the Public Health Law and State Sanitary Code’,” said Auerbach. “The only saving grace was the dedication and commitment of the staffs of the Environmental Sanitation and Public Nursing Divisions. Without them the county would have been in jeopardy.”

(Copyright © 2009 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc.
This story may not be reproduced in any form without express written consent.)


Anonymous said...

Thank you!

UC Client #11 and Elliott's Advisor said...

Great investigative job, Elliott!! Now the question remains as to why this occurred over the past twenty years. Was there any oversight over the Health Department at all with the previous county administrators and the then- executive legislative branch of government?

I am sure complaints concerning the Palens and operation of the Health Department were forwarded over to the Legislature in the pre-charter days of county government.

That being said, what changes in the Health Department are being made? True, the purpose of the Comptroller's audit is to identify deficiencies BUT without the assurance of change and ACTION by the newly appointed Health Director: words become rather meaningless and it comes the "same old, same old" scenario.

Anonymous said...

KUDO's to Comptroller Auerbach. Additional investigations into areas like this will move the county forward and help eradicate incompetence. Maybe the new slogan should be Mediocrity Breeds Incompetence. Added are words Accountabilty and Responsibility and we're off to a great year end and a super begining for 2010.
take care,
Shelly Z