Thursday, August 13, 2009

A former public servant finally gets in touch with those she was supposed to serve?

Several of our Union College volunteer tax preparers have been pre-med students, and they have said that their experiences as VITA volunteers were eye-opening, because it gave them insights into the hard financial realities that many of their future patients face.

Maybe our now-disgraced former state health commissioner Antonia Novello would have had different priorities if she'd come into contact with those hard realities earlier in her life.

Novello says she's been humbled
Disgraced former state health commissioner says community service work has changed her

By PAUL GRONDAHL, Staff writer

ALBANY -- Dr. Antonia Novello, the disgraced former state health commissioner, has seen how the other half lives and it has been a humbling, transforming experience working and living among the poor.

Under terms of her guilty plea to a low-level felony for forcing state employees to handle her personal chores while she was commissioner, Novello has nearly completed 250 hours of community service at a health clinic in West Hill, one of the poorest and highest-crime areas in the city.

She will be back in Albany County Court Friday to finalize the details of her sentence, which kept her from going to prison and included paying $22,500 in restitution and a $5,000 fine.

"I was in Albany for seven years as health commissioner and I never knew West Hill existed," said Novello, 64, who grew up comfortably middle-class in Puerto Rico and is also the former U.S. Surgeon General.

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