Weekly Feature

2018-04-05 / Editorial

Fight for children’s center a victory, years later

Bee Editorial

The fight is over. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been weighed, he has been measured, and he has lost. He has come out looking like a hero to those who have not been affected by the fight to keep open the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center in West Seneca.

This facility is the top rated in the state for the treatment of children suffering from severe mental trauma. This fact was outlined, cited, elaborated upon, dissected, challenged and shouted from the rooftops during the past five years of uncertainty, by former patients, parents, advocates and mental health professionals. All this was ignored by the governor.

Cuomo and his administration claimed the reason for closing the children’s center and merging it with the adult Buffalo Psychiatric Center was due to rising costs for repairs and updates at the center. They promised the new children’s space downtown — clocking in at a whopping $20 million renovation — would offer all the amenities as the children’s center, and more.

The fight turned legal about a year and a half ago, with legislators and citizens alike filing lawsuits against the governor and his administrative actions. Cuomo crashed through these attempts to stop the merger with the might of an ogre, and just as brutal.

Still, the fighters never lost hope.

With the children’s center’s lead boxer in Albany, Michael Kearns, leaving his assembly seat to become the new Erie County Clerk in November, it seemed the children were down for the count. Then, Kearns said, his thoughts were pulled constantly and ferociously back to the children and their mission. He began to pray, and as any great comeback story knows, his prayers were answered.

Bottom line: Gov. Cuomo is a bully, preying on the state’s most vulnerable children as a bully would another child on a playground.

He has no record of being compassionate to members of the disability community, and this is no different.

While we will certainly never hear it from him, this was a political move. This was not done out of the kindness of his heart. His decision now was made to save face during his next re-election campaign.

No matter the reason, the children in this fight have been named the victor.

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