Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Donovan under Fire for Administrator Pick

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Donovan under Fire for Administrator Pick

Article excerpt

Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan's appointment this week of Jerrold Binney as acting county administrator came under fire Friday from the head of a nurses union and a Democratic state senator who objected to his role in privatizing Bergen Regional Medical Center during the 1990s.

Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck, called the appointment of Binney, a Dumont lawyer who served as county administrator and chief of staff in 1990s, as "a horrible step in the wrong direction."

"The deal orchestrated by Jerrold Binney that privatized Bergen Regional Medical Center resulted in negligent care and patient deaths," Weinberger said in a release. "This contract has cost taxpayers millions of dollars in lawsuits and legal fees, and I am troubled by the county executive's decision to turn over day-to-day control of the county to its architect."

Ann Twomey, president of the Emerson-based Health Professionals and Allied Employees Union, called that contract to turn over operation of the hospital to the Solomon Health Group as "the most costly, ill-conceived and damaging privatization schemes in New Jersey history."

Weinberg and Twomey noted that after leaving county government, Binney joined the law firm of DeCotiis, Fitzpatrick and Cole, the firm that worked for Bergen County on the contract to privatize Bergen Regional.

The double-barreled criticism -- contained in two news releases late Friday afternoon -- drew a dismissive response from Jeanne Baratta, Donovan's chief of staff, who called it "just Democratic political fodder."

"As far as Senator Weinberg, I think she's just grandstanding," Baratta said. "She trying to be relevant in Bergen County politics.

"She may have crossed the line, though, in saying that Mr. Binney is responsible for patient deaths," Baratta said. "I think she may have gone too far with that statement."

Baratta also noted that as county administrator, Binney has no involvement with hospital operations, which are overseen by the county Improvement Authority. …

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