February 11, 2021
From Assemblyman Phil Palmesano:
“Sending a subpoena to Dr. Zucker and other administration officials involved with the handling of nursing homes should be at the top of our legislative priorities. My colleagues and I were joined this morning by Miss Gelsey Randazzo Markese, a Rochester resident who lost her grandmother in a nursing home in December of 2020. Her story of tragic loss is all too common statewide. To date, we have seen over 15,000 deaths in nursing homes and long-term care facilities in New York state.
“The attorney general’s explosive report is a blueprint for thorough, bipartisan public hearings. To really dig deep and get families answers, we’re going to need to subpoena documents and compel testimony from officials like Dr. Zucker. This morning, my colleagues and I laid out a new strategy for triggering a subpoena for Dr. Zucker. Typically, subpoena power resides with committee chairs, but our Conference has found another way we can get the answers grieving families need. According to Section 62-A of Legislative Law, if a majority of members on a given committee sign a petition, authority is given for that committee to issue a subpoena for an individual to appear before that committee to answer questions. The Oversight committee is composed of 5 Democrats and 2 Republicans. Any two of those Democrats can sign onto our petition and that would trigger subpoena power.
“Dr. Zucker must testify in public and under oath. There have been broad and bipartisan voices of criticism of this governor on his handling of nursing homes. I am urging my Majority colleagues to now turn their words into action with bipartisan investigations and hearings. The attorney general put politics aside when she released her report. It is my hope that my Assembly colleagues will do the same.
“The governor and some of our Democrat colleagues continue to say this is all about politics. It is not. I have said and will continue to say the purpose of an independent investigation and bipartisan hearings with subpoenas is not about pointing blame and finding fault. It is about providing transparency and accountability. It is about providing the truth and answers for the thousands of New York families who have lost loved ones in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. These families deserve to at least hear the truth. Anything less is an insult to these families and the loved ones they lost. The purpose of investigations and hearings is to get answers to what happened and what went wrong, so we can work together to ensure another tragedy like this never happens again.”