Big Business to Little Guy in Lower Mid-City: Drop Dead!

Yesterday, several big business organizations, some of which stand to make money off of the destruction of Lower Mid-City and the construction of an expensive but still unfunded LSU/VA medical center, called for the withdrawal of a lawsuit filed on behalf of residents fighting to save their homes and community. The website of New Orleans City Business, whose publisher has consistently failed to disclose his own conflict of interest as a board member on the LSU Health Sciences Center Foundation, reported on the big business press release.

 

Those calling for an end to the litigation include the Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region, Black Economic Development Council, Greater New Orleans Inc., Greater New Orleans Biosciences Economic Development District, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana, Jefferson Business Council, New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, Northshore Business Council, Plaquemines Association of Business and Industry, St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce, Urban League of Greater New Orleans and New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce.

 

It's a veritable who's who of the region's rich and powerful, all calling for residents whose homes are about to be taken out from under them by the government to simply ignore the pattern of rule-breaking that has put their community at risk. These groups think it is the residents trying to keep their property who are stalling the development deal from which many of them stand to profit. Yet throughout this excruciating four year process none of these groups have ever confronted the flawed processes - the piecemeal and incomplete studies of risks and costs, the refusal to offer a single alternative site to the VA, the flaunting of municipal and federal law - that have actually caused the delays.

It is indeed quite interesting to have this big business consortium suddenly so concerned with the city's healthcare needs. They are over four years late to the party. They were on the other side of the fence when healthcare advocates demanded the immediate rebuilding of Charity Hospital, when healthcare advocates demanded the consideration alternative plans like that from FHL/RMJM, which would have resulted in the faster construction and completion of two new hospitals. How nice of them to show up now that their poorly planned, under-financed, and procedurally bankrupt chickens are coming home to roost.

Even if all of the lawsuits were to magically disappear and all of the steamrolling of citizens were to be willfully ignored, there would be no groundbreaking in Lower Mid-City and there would be no synergistic medical center complex. LSU remains half a billion dollars short of what they need to begin construction. The VA would still have to face neighborhood residents that want to stay in their homes. The city would still have to discover millions of dollars to facilitate property demolition, residential relocation, sidewalk and street deconstruction, and private utility relocation. Or worse still, the state would force residents from their homes, demolish their neighborhood, and give the land to the VA for construction while the LSU portion of the project, near to downtown and closer to being construction-ready, sits abandoned for years.

If Big Business really wanted to see construction, they would urge the adoption of the less expensive, less time consuming, and less destructive alternative proposal urged by SaveCharityHospital.com. Or, they would ask LSU to stop holding the Department of Veterans Affairs hostage, since LSU is no where near ready to begin construction, and swap their superior downtown site for the problematic one to which they've relegated the VA. Or, at the very least, they could call for everyone to be brought in for the negotiations and hearings that were supposed to have occurred in the first place.

Instead, these monopoly men would rather flaunt the law and intimidate working class Lower Mid-City residents. Their professed devotion to transparency apparently doesn't mean anything.

Their true one-and-only is greed.