Friday, February 06, 2009

The Waning VA Threat

The more I talk to folks about the proposed LSU/VA project threatening Lower Mid City, the more it becomes clear that people are legitimately frightened that the VA will pull out of the city entirely if their hospital deal with LSU falls through.

For many weeks, I've maintained that this was merely an empty rhetorical threat amongst many being used to bully politicians and residents into supporting a plan that has not been funded, destroys a historic neighborhood, displaces families, and which will cost more and take longer to build than the proposed alternative to preserve Charity.

But it would appear that the threat has gained some traction.

In fact, it may be what is holding many elected officials back from outright condemnation of the overloaded LSU-backed Taj Mahospital.

Yet, to me, the threat seems even more hollow now than it may have once been.

Months ago, it may have been more reasonable to postulate that if LSU was forced to build in Charity, that the VA would have just pulled the plug on building in New Orleans. George Bush was President then and he had his people in charge of Veterans Affairs. They'd done all the groundwork in Louisiana and it's maybe conceivable that they'd have just thrown their hands up in disgust if after all this time, the project was being reimagined.

It's different now.

The VA itself is being reimagined. Two high profile individuals, General Eric Shinseki and Tammy Duckworth have been nominated for the top posts. They're being charged with bringing veteran services into the 21st century. Don't you think they're going to want to reevaluate the previous administration's priorities up and down? I mean, the last administration didn't exactly treat veterans so good.

What happens when they evaluate the plans to build the VA in New Orleans? Will they have doubts about LSU's funding like the rest of us? Will they have reservations about displacing families like the rest of us?

Won't they find the prospect of pulling the plug on New Orleans to be totally impolitic?

Yes, I think so.

1 comment:

Civitch said...

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.*

7:30, 923 Tchoupitoulas Street in the Warehouse District