A Bucket of Bravado

That's what Jerry Jones with the Office of Facilities and Planning Control was offering up last night at a Special Committee on Hurricane Recovery meeting in New Orleans City Council chambers.  It seems that acting "fired up" is now enough to justify moving forward on a hospital that doesn't have a business plan and doesn't have adequate financing lined up.

It was unbelievable to see the difference between the way legislators treated the UMC presenters - including the mysterious "Dryades Street Public Policy Group" - and the way the legislators treated the Office of Community Development.  Skepticism applied to the second group; Senators emphasized "truth and reality" in leveling criticism.  But not to the first group, for some reason.


Council Member Kristin Palmer was present, thankfully, and added a healthy dose of questioning.  Senator Karen Carter Peterson was skeptical and aggressive - but for the wrong reasons.  She wanted the state to stop doing studies and go, no doubt because her legislative baby, BioDistrict New Orleans, hangs in the balance.  Hours earlier, Mid-City residents and representatives of the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization showed up at a special meeting of the BioDistrict board...and went to town, calling to have their neighborhood REMOVED from the 1,500 acre district.  

But Jones, as he misrcharacterized various things in the hospitals timeline and noted the "green dots" on the site, noted two key chokepoints coming up - points where the growing uncertainty about the project might catch up with it.  The first is the City Council revocation of the streets.  Jones noted that if the council "balks," it will be a signal that New Orleans doesn't want the hospital.  The Times-Picayune lapped it all up - reporting Jones' call for unity in backing the hospital.  That's a major oversimplification - proceeding carefuly on street revocation would likely be a sign that New Orleans doesn't want Baton Rouge coming down and forcing a horrific boondoggle down its throat.  The state continues to blame advocates for delays when it's the state's own lack of a business plan that's really driving the continued legislative indigestion.

The second chokepoint is the need to get the legislature to approve Jones moving forward with the construction manager at risk for the project...from the site prep. phase to the actual construction phase.  Based on the state of the legislature these days, that might prove difficult.  Bravado enough will not be sufficient to clear these hurdles.

Things to ponder, things to watch.