Black December came and went. Yonkers PBA President Keith Olson secretly cut a backroom deal with city officials behind the backs of other union presidents to save himself as he faced re-election. That ten-year contract deal was rushed and ratified within just four days, but the “moderate changes to General Municipal Law 207-C “has already” impacted the Yonkers Police Department (YPD) membership.
Several YPD members have received letters from the City of Yonkers (CoY) requiring them to undergo medical examinations that must be performed by a paid CoY physician. His name is Dr. Charles Totero, a now retired orthopedic doctor who works for United Medical Consultants at 2700 Westchester Avenue, in Purchase, New York. Dr. Totero has cleared 99% of those examined members to return to work in a “light duty” capacity. Based on Dr. Totero’s recommendation YPD members receiving 207-C benefits are demanded (forced) to return to work against their own doctor’s recommendation. Dr. Totero’s is known to have stated that if a PBA member can wipe his a**, he can go back to work. If they refuse to return to work, despite having previously gained acknowledgment and authenticity, and valid medical diagnosis of their condition, they have no other option than to fight for the continuation of 207-C at their own expense.
Upon completion of his examination, Dr. Totero sends his diagnosis and prognosis to Mary Lou Conroy, Esq., and/or Paul Sweeney, Esq. Both lawyers work for the Coughlin & Gerhard Law Firm, located in Binghampton, New York. Coughlin & Gerhard were specifically engaged by Yonkers City Hall to revamp Yonkers Municipal Law 207-C.
Yonkers Tribune has gained access to a letter signed by Dr. Totero in which he presents his finding to Coughlin & Gerhard using Sweeney, as his conduit to Coughlin & Gerhard. Sweeney, works for Coughlin & Gerhard. Nowhere in the sharing of information is permission to share that privileged medical information of the “patient” with any lawyers or a law firm. Dr. Totero’s finding could logically be permitted to be sent to Yonkers City Hall, but not to Coughlin & Gerhard without an OK from the “patient”.
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services advise the, “HIPAA Privacy Rule establishes national standards to protect individuals’ medical records and other personal health information… The Rule requires appropriate safeguards to protect the privacy of personal health information, and sets limits and conditions on the uses and disclosures that may be made of such information without patient authorization. The Rule also gives patients rights over their health information, including rights to examine and obtain a copy of their health records, and to request corrections.” Yonkers Tribune suggests HIPAA Privacy Rules protocol were undermined as per the transfer of medical information from a retired doctor, who works for the law firm engaged to specifically rid legitimate people off disability issues proven long before the new contract was voted upon with a 90 percent plus majority approval.
Another issue of great concern is what is protecting the “patient’s” medical information that is job related from now being open to exposing his / her personal medical issues and injuries to those not given permission to be privy to that information because of the manner by which the information was obtained.
As presently conducted, the patient must also face a panel of arbitrators at Yonkers City Hall to undergo determination of eligibility for a second time, despite their having previously been diagnosed to qualify for those crucial benefits. Since the contract gained overwhelming approval some YPD members, those specifically with twenty-plus-years of service, have decided to retire as they continue to fight for their earned disability benefits as retired members, rather than engage in extremely expensive litigious action against CoY. Several members, specifically those who didn’t want to be coerced into retiring or have not yet accrued enough time to consider retiring as an option find themselves having no other prospect than to challenge CoY for their hard earned benefits.
The newly signed 2013 Yonkers PBA contract changed the protocol required by 207-C; the “burden of proof” switched from the diagnosis by a doctor in good standing previously unchallenged, to affording CoY the legal advantage to challenge the diagnosis of every injured and/or sick member.
A member of the Captain Lieutenants Sergeants Association (CLSA) recently received a favorable decision that did not require him to return to light duty, as per an arbitration hearing under the old CLSA contract which saddles CoY with the “burden of proof” to show cause. This process makes it more difficult for CoY to unload members who were injured or became sick while performing their duties.
PBA President Keith Olson was “gung ho on ramrodding” this contract deal. He and his lawyers forgot to talk about a light duty policy which currently does not exist in the department. After the CLSA decision you can rest assured Yonkers City Hall will find one. You would think that someone would have thought of setting those guidelines prior to putting together their newly required research paper style medical incident form, which members are required to complete for every reported injury/illness.
Since then Olson has done everything in his power to place blame on the media, other union presidents and his own members citing that they were detractors, deflectors, and liars of what was to come. Unfortunately, this reality was earned by and because of Olson’s controversial and humiliating contract. Olson took this issue of blaming the detractors so seriously and personally that he specifically had his executive board draft a petition to impeach a member from his own association because that member expressed his own interpretation of the contract. The strain was all consuming for Olson. He decided to vacation with Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano among other high ranking city officials and some that were family and friends that assisted him “hiding” all that was needed to be told the Yonkers PBA membership but was not. A snake oil salesman if ever there was one.
While he was in the sunny State of Florida, Olson was still reaping the fruits of his underhanded and controversial skullduggery on the men and women in blue who deserve better than being violated by their PBA president. Olson’s sister, Kelly Olson Chiarella, who was recently hired by Mayor Spano to succeed Kathy Moran in the capacity of Director of the Office of Aging, has been elevated to a position that will allow her to earn $120,000. Further to that end, Yonkers Tribune have learned the city is currently shining up a new vehicle for Olson since the past practice of receiving free city gas and using your own vehicle is not enough for the greedy union head.
According to inside sources Olson appears to be ostracized from other union leaders because of Olson’s self-serving conduct. The new PBA agreement places unwarranted pressure on other unions to accept the changes accepted by the PBA. For now, it appears that Local 628 President Barry McGoey of the Yonkers Firefighters and C.L.S.A. President Thomas Phelan are still engaged in negotiating a contract devoid of the draconian outcome suffered by the PBA membership.
Some high-ranking departmental transfers, including six captains and one detective lieutenants need well-deserved mention.
Captain Hellthaler is now designated Det. Captain Fredrick Hellthaler;
Lt. Andrew Lane is now designated Captain Andrew Lane;
Detective Sergeant Joseph Recine #19 is now designated Lieutenant Joseph Recine #19;
Det. Sgt. Kallid Nasser #2 is now designated Detective Lieutenant Kallid Nasser #2;
Det. Victor Preni #601 is now designated Sergeant Victor Preni;
P.O. Mark Wissner #212, P.O. Thomas Como #438, P.O. Anthony DiMaggio #299 are now designated Sergeants; and
P.O. Sean Drain #710, and P.O. Stephen Donohue #269 are now designated Detectives.
Congratulations one and all!
During this round of transfers Captain John Mueller of the Fourth Precinct did not have to elicit the help of Keith Olson to fend off another transfer because the administration decided they did not need another victory party. As for the high ranking men that accepted their orders for the good of the entire department and without prejudice, the Yonkers Tribune applauds them for their professional integrity and service. As for the Yonkers PBA President he appears to be a lame duck within the halls of the department and appears to be heading to a vote of “no confidence”. Olson seems to have lost all credibility because of his self-serving ways. It appears that his actions toward members of the Yonkers PBA are deplorable and skirting major legal implications that will soon surface like a dark cloud for years to come. Rather than a legacy of accomplishment and adulation once perceived appropriate, Olson is busy engraving his own epitaph.