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I Sit And Look Out: Lie hinders average citizen from performing his duty

My parents and others taught me that when you see an injustice, you speak out against it. Keeping silent in the face of evil, they made clear, was not acceptable.

When I learned I would not be reappointed to the state Board for Professional Conduct, I was disturbed. I felt, and still feel, I had done nothing to warrant expulsion from the board after more than 30 years of service. I understand I may have been the longest-serving public member, if not the longest-serving member period.

I made my feelings known in e-mails to the chairman of the board, one of the physician members. What bothered me greatly was that he accepted the lie told about me — that I had refused to have fingerprints taken. At no time, to my knowledge, did he challenge the lie.

The governor, of course, has the right to appoint anyone he chooses to this board or any other over which his jurisdiction applies. He can have a reason or no reason at all, but if a reason is given, it should not be based on a lie, as it was in this case.

Last year’s efforts by the state to have so many people file mounds of paperwork about themselves came about because of the recurrent scandals that have plagued the state in recent years. But here was an instance of one size fitting all. Does anyone really believe that a member of the state Board for Professional Conduct would do something to damage the work of the board? Can any sensible human being believe a member of the board would commit an act to damage his or her reputation, whether that member is a doctor or a public member?

Apparently, several members of the board, like myself, protested this nonsense. But, also, I believe, many members submitted the needed documentation, just as I did.

When I learned that my reappointment had been dismissed on the basis of a lie, I went on the Internet and found that I could send an e-mail to Gov. David Paterson. I did so. It was fairly lengthy, setting forth the facts of what had taken place. It made clear, I believe, my feeling that my reputation had been smeared by the falsehood made against me.

To make my point, I quoted these lines from Shakespeare’s “Othello”: “Who steals my purse steals trash; ‘tis something, nothing;/‘Twas mine, ‘tis his, and has been slave to thousands;/But he that filches from me my good name./Robs me of that which not enriches him./And makes me poor indeed.”

I have not received an answer to my e-mail and do not expect one. After all, can there be any rational explanation for the shameful act that took place?

My service to the board, noted by every governor since Hugh Carey — except this one — has been of great importance to me. I have seen the marvelous, dedicated work of doctors and other public members. I have seen the marvelous, dedicated work of members of the state Department of Health. I salute them all. They deserve the gratitude and respect of all New Yorkers.

I have heard that a group of board members resigned because of the paperwork, the investigation procedure and, as a physician who served on the board some years ago put it, “the indignity of the whole process.”

I shall miss serving on the board. I shall miss the people I served with. But the demeaning and tawdry way in which the process has played out — and which, I understand, has been denounced by others — can only leave a bad taste in the mouth of a native New Yorker who believes he was doing a citizen’s duty for more than 30 years.

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