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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 1, 2004

Schumer: Principi Will Decide Who Is On Va Panel

After reports said that VISN Director William Feeleywould pick panel that determines Canandaigua VA hospital's fate, Schumer called Principi and personally received his assurances that he will make final decisions

Principi told Schumer that there will be real local representation - including a veteran presence - on the committee; Feeley will send

Principi a long list of candid

US Senator Charles E. Schumer received assurances late Thursday from VA Secretary Anthony Principi that Principi himself - and not VISN Director William Feeley - will make the final decisions as to who will sit on the panel helping to determine the fate of the Canandaigua VA hospital. During a phone call Thursday evening, Principi said that Feeley will send him a long list of candidates for the panel but that ultimately Principi will make the decisions himself, and the committee that will draft a plan for the VA facility will include a veteran presence and local leaders.

"I called up Secretary Principi to find out exactly how this process is going to work, and he assured me that he will be making the real decisions as to who will sit on the panel," Schumer said. "I reminded him that we need real members of this community who know about and care about the facility involved. He assured me that local leaders including veterans will be represented on that committee - and that the person deciding who to put on that panel will be him and him alone."

According to published reports on Thursday, VA officials suggested that VISN Director William Feeley will play a major role in determining the composition of the panel that will draft a plan for the Canandaigua VA facility. After learning of this, Schumer called Principi to express his concern. Principi assured Schumer that there will be real community input on the committee and that Principi - not Feeley - will be making the ultimate decisions regarding the committee's composition. The Secretary explained that while Feeley will provide him a list of candidates for the panel, Principi will make final determinations. In addition, Principi assured Schumer that the committee would not just represent the views of VA officials but will include members of the Canandaigua community.

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