Below are a number of key developments that have transpired lately - and some action steps that you can take to help drive for better outcomes:
1. State and its chief contractor try to freeze out public input on Charity Hospital adaptive reuse.
The state is mandated to hold multiple public input meetings or forums regarding the adaptive reuse of Charity Hospital. After a raucous meeting in the fall where the public made it clear that Charity should be retrofitted...it looks like the state took the cowardly and evasive path forward. The state ostensibly held two "public" meetings in March of 2011, but did not notify any consulting parties directly - diverging from past practice - but instead merely put out a notice in the fine print in the back of the Times-Picayune. This change in practice was clearly an attempt to cut out community voices that disagree with the state's way forward. Or should we say...BioDistrict New Orleans' plans for Charity Hospital. We continue to hear that the BioDistrict now has plans for using Charity Hospital. That's interesting since the president of the BioDistrict was one of the only people in attendance at the two March "public" meetings on adaptive reuse.
Action Step: Contact the state's Office of Facilities and Planning Control. Ask to speak with Mr. Jerry Jones. Tell him that the state needs to hold a true public meeting where consulting parties - (public interest organizations) - are given actual notice of the public meetings in advance. Here is the number to call: (225) 342-0820 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (225) 342-0820 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or email: http://doa.louisiana.gov/fpc/fpc.htm
2. State legislature continues to express skepticism about UMC financing
The state legislature held a hearing one week ago where several members, including State Representative Jim Fannin, showed that they are worried about the many uncertainties that continue to plague the UMC project. They are right to be worried! Contact your state legislators and let them know that you don't support the boondoggle unfolding in Lower Mid-City. Tell the legislators to support the alternative of rebuilding a 21st century, modern hospital in the existing Charity Hospital shell.
Action Step: Contact your Louisiana state legislators and let them know how you feel. Specifically, be sure to contact these representatives on the Appropriations Committee.
3. Revocation of the streets in the UMC Footprint
Contact your city council person here in New Orleans to request a "NO" vote on any attempt to revoke the streets in the UMC Footprint. This issue will likely be before the council in the next month or so. It's inappropriate to give the streets to the state/LSU/UMC because the money is still not in hand. Senator David Vitter has been ramming home the point that financing cannot support the current design. And there is still no business plan in place.
Action Step: Contact city council members here in New Orleans and request that they vote "NO" on the revocation of the UMC Footprint streets. Once the city loses the streets, it has no more leverage over the UMC project:
Jackie Clarkson: (504) 658-1070 email@example.com
Arnie Fielkow: (504) 658-1060 firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan Guidry: (504) 658-1010 email@example.com
Kristin Palmer: (504) 658-1030 firstname.lastname@example.org
Stacy Head: (504) 658 -1020 email@example.com
Cynthia Hedge-Morell: (504) 658-1040 firstname.lastname@example.org
Jon Johnson: (504) 658-1050 email@example.com
The State of Louisiana continues to try to squirm out from under the many inconvenient facts that continue to present themselves. Every time the hospital is shown to be too big or unsustainable or wholly inapporpriate for a residential neighborhood, the state finds another way to manipulate the facts to rationalize its way forward.
Enough is enough!