Brescia removes Anagnostakis as committee chairman

Orange County Legislator Mike Anagnostakis, a Town of Newburgh Republican who has clashed with his party at times and recently announced his departure from the caucus, has been removed as chairman of a committee he led for five years in what he denounced on Friday as an act of “political retribution.”

A list of committee assignments for 2019 released this week showed that Legislature Chairman Steve Brescia had replaced Anagnostakis as chairman of the Health and Mental Health Committee with Jim O’Donnell, a Goshen Republican who didn’t have a committee chairmanship before then. Committee chairmen get a $3,300 stipend on top of the legislators’ $30,000 base salary.

Anagnostakis became chairman in 2014 after fighting to stave off privatization of the Valley View Center for Nursing Care and Rehabilitation, the 360-bed facility that the Health and Mental Health Committee oversees. That conflict, which put Anagnostakis at odds with Republican leaders, continued until court rulings in 2014 and 2015 ended the push. He invoked the Valley View battle in a statement about his removal.

“It is sad that political retribution superseded good government,” he said. “They can remove me as Chairman, but they can not change the fact that I fought their shenanigans on Valley View for years – ultimately saving our nursing home, resulting in continued great care for our seniors and over $50 million in cash surplus for taxpayers!”

Brescia denied in an inteview that the move was retribution, but said that he and his fellow Republicans had grown tired of Anagnostakis criticizing them or “trying to show us up as ignorant,” and saw no reason to continue rewarding him with a chairmanship.

“I’m not trying to punish him, but we’re not going to reward him either,” Brescia said.

Brescia also disputed the notion that Anagnostakis “single-handedly” saved Valley View, saying its adminstrator and other lawmakers deserved credit as well, and noted that the Valley View controversy and any lingering desire to sell the home subsided long ago.

The Legislature has 15 Republicans, five Democrats and one Independence Party member. Anagnostakis left the GOP caucus in November, announcing that he would remain an enrolled Republican but would huddle before Legislature sessions with Michael Amo, the sole Independence Party member.

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