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Paper slams Padavan on St. Mary’s request

BY M. JUNAID ALAM

The Feb. 19 piece, titled “Pols' sick ploy,” skewered Padavan and Carrozza for “pandering at the expense of critically ill infants and children” who are treated at the acute care facility at 29-01 216th St..”They went to bat for nut cases who were all too happy to deny the sickest of children the best of care,” the editorial page intoned, declaring the two Queens politicians recipients of the page's dubious “Knucklehead Award.”Not to be outdone, Padavan responded with a few choice words of his own, pronouncing the editorial “really quite stupid” and “just dumb.”He said he and Carrozza sent letters to the state Department of Health asking for the Feb. 7 hearing to be postponed because the local community lacked sufficient time to present its concerns, not because the two politicians opposed the plans outright.The state unanimously approved the $105 million proposal, although some residents neighboring the hospital have complained over the past month that they will bear the brunt of increased traffic, noise and parking woes that they say will destroy their quality of life.Padavan also ridiculed the Daily News editors for “apparently not reading their own paper” in going against the sentiments expressed by one of the paper's columnists, Dennis Hamill, who in a Feb. 12 piece wrote: “No one wants to stand in the way of improving the lives of sick kids. But shoving a $105 million five-story building, paid for by taxpayers, into the middle of a bedroom community is arrogant and counterproductive.”Padavan also stressed that he has supported St. Mary's in the past, inviting its young patients to visit the Senate in Albany each year. He noted he was also dubbed “Man of the Year” by the hospital in 1980.Those deemed “nut cases” by the Daily News also had a few words to say about the attack.Carrozza could not be reached for comment.Frank Skala, head of the East Bayside Homeowners Association, and Blanche Felton, who leads the Golden Park Block Association, held a Feb. 19 meeting to denounce St. Mary's plans and the Daily News editorial. Padavan representative Phil Plasencia and Carrozza aide Eugene McSweeney attended.Skala, in particular, was incensed by the editorial's assertion that “no public funds were involved” in the expansion plan, noting that the hospital is mostly taxpayer funded.Perhaps most notable among all the uproar is St. Mary's own measured reaction to the editorial, which reiterated the need for its modernization project without taking a swipe at the Daily News' latest targets.In a statement released through the hospital's communications coordinator, Vice President Edwin Simpser said “St. Mary's is committed to working with our neighbors and community leaders to ensure that our modernization project works for the local community and the children we serve. Senator Padavan and Assembly Member Carrozza have long been good friends to St. Mary's and we are confident they will be helpful partners as this process continues.”

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