Monday, February 09, 2009

Healthcare and Hospitals: Public Forum Tonight!

This evening at the Preservation Resource Center - 923 Tchoupitoulas St. in the Warehouse District.

7:30 PM sharp.


The USA Today profiled the Charity issue over the weekend. Given that LSU's position has been that those who question the utility of the LSU/VA project are holding up the process and hurting the city's recovery, I thought that LSU general counsel Raymond Lamonica's statements regarding the real roadblock - LSU's utter lack of funding for the project - were quite revealing (emphasis mine):

Lamonica says Louisiana plans to appeal FEMA's $150 million figure, saying the agency's actions were "lawless" and that officials hope they will have better luck with the Obama administration. But he says the dispute is almost certain to end up in court.

Meanwhile, Lamonica says, the state is working to design the new hospital and to buy land for it near the Superdome.

"That's going to take a couple of years," he says. "Hopefully by then we'll have our money."

A done deal, eh? Clog the thing up in the courts for years and pray the money arrives? My oh my! How forward-thinking and recovery-driven!

The alternative plan
to build a state-of-the-art facility in the Charity frame would cost less and begin sooner but apparently any reasonable public discussion of that plan remains objectionable.

As Civitch pointed out earlier:

FYI the LSU folks have now refused to come to FOUR public meetings/events about their project.

They turned down VCPORA, then they declined to appear on the WWL morning show, then they said no to the Baton Rouge Press Club, and they're not attending tonight's meeting at the PRC.

LSU's plan, it would seem, is to run out the clock even though nobody is sure they have either the ball or the lead.


Brian said...

I actually think this money issue is going to be a good/the only strategy for forcing LSU back into Charity. If the $150M figure stands firm, LSU will have no choice but to go into Charity, and if the building is as damaged as they say it is, they can fill out PWs for FEMA to get reimbursed. I think this is the only real way to force LSU back into Charity--browbeating them ain't gonna work (maybe, just maybe, a coalition of shamed politicians could get them in there).

Also, FYI, GNOBEDD is having meetings with the 4 firms that have responded to an RFQ for doing a master plan for the district (RMJM, WRT, H3, and EDAW). They're good firms, so that's a plus--so again, I maintain that apart from what happens to the hospital, the neighborhoods need to hijack that process, let the sun shine in, and get a plan that the neighborhoods want. It's not ideal, but it is a way to be pragmatic about this whole thing, and to turn GNOBEDD into a force for good instead of a force for evil.

Brian said...

That previous post is actually me, but my brother had logged into his gmail account, unbeknownst to me... Not that it really matters.

Jeffrey said...

Wow--screwed it up again... It's techno-tard Jeff.

Anonymous said...

Whatis remarkable is that the USA today reporters miss that the Hospital was re-opened a few weeks after Katrina and fully functional. This is just another method to discourage the return of the poor--and it's misleading to cast it as a preservation or efficiency issue. It's about race and class, not preservation and fiscal responsibility. See "Who's Killing Charity Hospital" on google.

Puddinhead said...

Ten years from now the "new Charity" will be rebuilt near the new LSU medical school--in Baton Rouge. Where it will be welcomed by the community.

The influx of residents into "Lower Mid-City" will still be able to get medical-related jobs, though...they can all drive buses to carry New Orleans indigent patients 80 miles upriver to their doctor's appointments.

Civitch said...


Are you seriously suggesting that because LSU might pack up its marbles and go to Baton Rouge that we should just forget that we have a planning process? Ignore the property rights of the Mid-Citizens in the project's path? Gouge out 2.5 million square feet of our CBD? Agree to defer the return of health care to this city by at least 2 years? And, with the state facing a $2B budget shortfall, spend almost $300M *more* than the alternative plan would require?

Your attitude is reminiscent of how New Orleans has dealt with controversial development in the past - in the words of a TP reporter who covered the Wal-Mart/St. Thomas project, the city just spread 'em.

E said...

I guess what I'd like to know is why the GNOBEDD is putting together a master plan separate from the comprehensive citywide zoning plan already being crafted by Goody Clancy.

Puddinhead said...


After spending a pretty fair amount of post-Katrina (and post LSU/VA announcement, of course) driving block-by-block at various times of day through an area I was fairly familiar with prior to the storm, and which I'd never heard referred to as "Lower Mid-City" until it became time to make it look like it had been an actual neighborhood any time since the Harding Administration....yeah, that's seriously what I'm suggesting IN THIS CASE. Because I've yet to find anything remotely resembling a neighborhood there...unless we stretch things to classfy three occupied structures in a row as a "neighborhood". Sometimes I think you knights in shining armor types conflate every issue with every other issue that's in any way similar.

Demolish a big swath of the Quarter to make way for a freeway? Fairly assinine idea there; I'll be on board with fighting that one. Replace the St. Thomas Projects (I could tell you some interesting stories of days spent in there in the late '80s!) with less-concentrated and somewhat-mixed-income housing such as now exists/is being built? With a Walmart, which is of course evil incarnate for the silver spoon preservationist crowd but is EXACTLY the kind of place that those quaint lower income types would have LOVED to have had available to them for years--what with all of the reasonably low cost fresh meats and vegetables (you know...the stuff you all want them to "authentically" buy from the corner store instead...for twice as much) and cheap imported clothing that won't pass muster at The Columns but will cover up a growing kid just fine--but the long bus ride with two or three transfers involved to get to either the East of to Jefferson sort of made it a tough sell for that single mother of three with no outside income, you know. Yeah, I'm down with that idea. Hack out a big area of the Treme neighborhood for (eventually) a pair of auditoriums and a park? Well, I wasn't around for that one, and I have no earthly idea what that area was like at the time...but I can't imagine it being THAT much different than it is now, and certainly not any worse (as regards to percentage of occupied dwellings, etc.) than now, so that certainly seems like about as crappy an idea as the Riverfront expressway...or the idea of demolishing an almost same-sized area of the same neighborhood in order to build a public housing project, which you rarely hear decryed as a case of the "destruction of the thriving Treme neighborhood". At any rate, I'll help protest both if we somehow replay those exact scenarios.

But this LSU/VA situation? Sorry, and no disrespect meant to those folks who DO happen to be occupying some of the structures that are still standing in this footprint (I know you're there--I keep hearing about you on the kewl web log thingies)...but calling it "Lower Mid-City" doesn't make it a "neighborhood" like the "Lower Garden District" or even like "Mid-City" farther out Canal..where, you know, people actually live? My thoughts are that if your were really able to round up all of the property owners for the entire site you'd probably find the majority at least willing to listen to an offer from the state and/or city for their parcel.

I go out on a limb here, of course, as one does whenever one makes assumptions about others' "attitudes" without actually knowing them, but I get the sense you'd love, for example, for the port to continue to be the job-generating engine it has been since it was the reason New Orleans came to long as we don't do anything like replace that antiquated lock (hey, that one really IS from the Harding Administration! Cool!) that repeatedly malfunctions and causes 17 day delays in east-west shipping to, you know, like actually IMPROVE our facilities. No way, man...there's Krytonite mud on the bottom of that canal--gonna the area for miles around and render it unlivable. And, being as it's vintage-1923 anyway, I guess the lock itself is too historic to change at all.

E...To you point about planning...I've been involved in a number of those Goody-Clancy planning get-togethers, although granted, most of them were for my own District 6, which of course has no bearing on the REAL city and decisions for it's planning that will undoubtedly be made by the grownups who live upriver of Canal. But the citizen input that the Goody-Clancy people were required to treat as legitimate ranged anywhere from wonderful, as in ending spot zoning, to far-fetched. You'd sit at a table for citizen discussion, and someone would tell the table's facilitator that they'd like to see the zoning done such as to foster a more walkable city, and people at the table would all say they loved that idea...and then another citizen would say they want to see a monorail run from the North Shore across the Lake and down Elysian Fields to the Quarter, then on out to the airport...and the same people at the table would all say they thought THAT was an idea they'd "really support". So when the facilitator is "reporting" what his/her table has come up with as the "most important ideas" to get into any zoning, they're telling the audience that our table wants a "walkable city with a big monorail running through it". I'm not kidding. That, and plenty of new canals dug every here and there. I'm not sure exactly whose houses are coming down to make room for the canals, or if they're just going down the middle of neutral grounds or what, but the new zoning will definately call for monorails and canals. And magic ponies.

Anonymous said...

The people who inhabited and continue to live in the part of Mid-City below Broad have called it Mid-City and Lower Mid-City since the 1920s.