The Knuckleheads of the Day award
Today's winners are The New York Lottery and its Deputy Director, Susan Miller. They get the award for the following.
NAPLES - Wayne Schenk was diagnosed in December with inoperable lung cancer. Doctors at a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital told the former Marine he might live for another year or, if he's lucky, maybe 18 months.Incredible. What a bunch of idiots, particularly Ms. Miller. This man is dying and you're quoting the rules. They should be ashamed of yourselves. Susan Miller, where is your mercy you living piece of human bureaucratic trash? I make a bet you break the rules at least once a day. Where is Governor Spitzer right now? Why don't he intercede? Like by giving Schenk his money and firing people like Miller. In the meantime, Susan and the New York State Lottery are today's Knuckleheads of the day.
Five weeks later, Schenk bought a $5 scratch-off High Stakes Blackjack ticket at a drugstore near his home and hit the jackpot. There had to be a catch, he immediately thought, and there was: The $1 million New York Lottery prize pays out in $50,000 annual installments over 20 years.
"If it wasn't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all," Schenk, 51, said with a wheezy laugh.
Schenk has no need for a new house, or a fancy car. What he's hoping to buy is a little time - by checking into a Pennsylvania hospital that specializes in treating advanced-stage cancers. "I understand money can't buy everything, but money can prolong things, you know?" he said.
It's proving much trickier to get that specialized treatment than he imagined.
To begin with, his insurance with the Department of Veteran Affairs cannot be transferred to an out-of-network provider.
The Eastern Regional Medical Center in Philadelphia, run by the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, told him that it would need $125,000 upfront and $250,000 in reserves to be tapped for treatment.
"We are definitely looking into how we can help him," said Chris Hamrick, a spokesman for the nationwide chain.
Schenk recently cashed his first lottery check - $34,000 after taxes - and is still scrambling to find a lump-sum arrangement. He has been offered a lump sum of more than $400,000, but after taxes, he would be left with a little more than $200,000.
"We're incredibly sympathetic," said Susan Miller, deputy director of the New York Lottery. "But we're not able, because of our rules and regulations, to just write him a [lump-sum] check. We're absolutely willing to expedite the paperwork if he can talk to a bank or a company that does this."
Schenk also has turned for help to his assemblyman, Joseph A. Errigo, who is considering pushing a bill to allow the lottery to award a lump sum in extraordinary cases. But legislation often takes a year or longer to go into effect - possibly too long for Schenk to benefit.
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