Thursday, January 22, 2009

New Orleans recovery hurt by too much transparency, debate

Last night's VCPORA forum featured a panel of preservationists and the architects responsible for the alternative plan to build a new state-of-the-art hospital in the old Charity building. After the presentation, one belligerent mumbling guy got real upset because the speakers didn't present the LSU/VA side of the debate.

The response was that representatives of LSU/VA were invited to participate but declined.

That was in fact the case. WCBF has obtained a copy of the correspondence.

Dr. Larry Hollier, the Chancellor of LSU Health Services, responded to the VCPORA invitation quite curtly:

Thank you for your invitation. However, I do not see any value in prolonging this type of discourse. As you well know, the State has already made the decision to proceed with the process for building the new LSU/VA Hospital on the announced site and are in the process of property acquisition. Any further "debates" such as you propose are a severe disservice to the people of New Orleans and can only delay the development of the badly needed Academic Teaching Hospital.

Wow. Let's just break down Mr. Hollier's points.

1. Discourse = worthless
2. LSU/VA development = done deal
3. Public debate = "severe disservice to the people of New Orleans"

I forget why but I recently re-watched the angry press conference the Mayor held in order to yell at Lee Zurik and Karen Gadbois for "hurting the recovery of the city" as a result of their work on uncovering the NOAH scandal and the abuse of CDBG dollars from Washington. So it's interesting to see now that those asking for transparency and public debate are again perpetrating a "severe disservice" to our own neighbors about to lose their homes to the LSU bulldozer.

Pretty slimy...

Meg Lousteau of VCPORA spoke to Mr. Potato Head on WWL this afternoon. I called in and raised the point that it was unlikely that the Obama administration would make up for LSU's funding shortfall in an economic stimulus given that the option to rebuild Charity is cheaper and faster. It's interesting that even though the state has done everything within its power to bury the proposal to reinvent Charity, it is still closer to being "shovel-ready" than the state-backed LSU/VA redevelopment that had the benefit of everybody's undivided TLC since the day after Katrina hit. At this point, Spud made a bad joke ("haven't you ever heard the term brother-in-law?") insinuating that the cheaper faster less destructive more sustainable plan wasn't going to grease enough palms to get political support. What was weird about the joke was that whereas I see the potential for insider palm-greasing as being a great reason to try to fight the LSU/VA hospital, he seemed to be pretty resigned about that being the normal way to do business.


mominem said...

Has anyone tried f to get information for LSU, Facility Planning or anyone else through Public Information requests?

Jeffrey said...

Any idea of how the hearing went today?

Karen said...

I went to Baton Rouge today.

More later when I can make a complete sentence.

Michelle K said...

If you have the time, the hearing is archived online:

Jeffrey said...

Not that this should ever permit LSU to ram anything down New Orleans' throat, but what do you guys say to the argument that continuing to push on the Charity issue could jeopardize the entire prospect of putting the hospital complex in downtown New Orleans? I wholeheartedly agree that the ideal situation is for LSU to go back into Charity, but for those of you who went to BR to watch the hearing (I haven't had a chance to view it online yet), what is your sense about whether LSU can be persuaded to go back into Charity versus LSU or the VA abandoning support for the project altogether?

E said...

I hear that argument a good amount and I think it's a total exaggeration, if not a fabrication.

I think a lot of that noise comes from Jeff Parish, where politicos still hold out hope that the VA will locate in Kenner or some other asphalt hamlet. But that ship sailed a long time ago.

Civitch said...

I have heard from at least one reliable source that the decision has been made to be here in New Orleans, so now it's a matter of the "preferred" site or a renovated Charity.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you all can help. We are considering methods to continue helping with recovery of NO. Is help still needed? What is the safest place to donate where the help actually goes to the cause and not someones new porshe?