Hate to say it

But we told you so.

Did you happen to catch Bill Barrow's latest article in the Times-Picayune about the skyrocketing estimated costs that the proposed LSU Taj Mahospital will force taxpayers to foot each year?

 

The planned state teaching hospital in New Orleans will need at least $70 million in annual state general fund support through 2016 and could top $100 million in subsequent years, according to an analysis prepared for Louisiana Health Secretary Alan Levine. 

That's a lot of money for operations and still doesn't address the $500 million shortfall preventing LSU from even beginning construction. 

And that's also why we sought a compromise in which LSU and the VA would have swapped plots in Lower Mid-City. Not only would this have allowed the VA to begin construction on the best piece of land but it would have allowed the controversy around LSU's proposed hospital to be resolved without demolishing the most populous part of the Lower Mid-City community. Instead, it looks increasingly like the number one reason given for the entire LSU/VA complex - biomedical corridor synergy - is at risk. The residents of Lower Mid-City will have been kicked out of their houses for a VA hospital that, instead of being adjacent to a state-of-the-art teaching facility, will be completely isolated from the medical district for years.

If the politicians who have systematically enshrined the LSU/VA complex knew in 2006 or even in 2008 what we now know in 2010, would they have been so enthusiastic about skirting the hearing process?

If they knew that instead of a cost-efficient joint LSU/VA facility co-located on a site between Claiborne and Galvez, they'd get two totally separate sprawling hospitals on a larger site between Cliaborne and N. Rocheblave, would they have still supported the LSU/VA?

If they knew that healthcare reform would render LSU's financing plan inoperable?

If they knew how high site preparation costs would rise on New Orleans taxpayers?

If they knew home values would be artificially supressed to cheat Lower Mid-City residents out of just compensation?

If they knew that New Orleans would be without hospitals for nearly a decade after Katrina?

They should have known all these things because these are exactly the things that we have warned about.  And to say nothing of the cheaper, faster, and less destructive plan we begged politicians to consider.

This latest disclosure about the operating costs that taxpayers will have to subsidize year after year must surely create some heartburn for Governor Bobby Jindal, who demanded strict fiscal restraint on all fronts. How will he justify such a large annual obligation? After all, the governor refused federal money to build high speed rail in Louisiana because it could have required $18 million in annual maintenance costs. The LSU/VA, which was chosen without consideration of alternatives, will cost taxpayers several times that each year.

So while LSU slowly reveals the true cost of their development and the amount of time during which state of the art medical care will continue to be denied, what are New Orleans state pols worried about?

Whether or not they'll have influence over board appointments.

Heaven forbid they show some compassion for Lower Mid-City residents being squeezed for every penny by appraisal and salvage contractors.