Earlier this week, Governor Bobby Jindal appointed four board members to govern the LSU half of the tragic LSU/VA boondoggle, even though the facility doesn't yet exist and construction remains a hypothetical prospect given a financial shortfall of over $400 million.
Almost a year ago, LSU and Tulane Universities battled in public and behind the scenes on a power sharing agreement that would govern their proposed replacement of Charity Hospital. Then, it seemed ridiculous to have such a nasty fight over a hypothetical hospital and it is just as silly now.
But even when conditional political patronage is at stake, nothing else seems to matter.
Let's look to the Times-Picayune to see who Jindal selected to govern the Taj Mahospital:
Tim Barfield, who recently left the Jindal administration for an executive post at Amedisys, a home health care and hospice provider. Barfield, who holds bachelor's and law degrees from LSU, previously served in several executive posts at The Shaw Group.
Donald "Boysie" Bollinger, president and chief executive officer of Bollinger Shipyards Inc. A generous donor to Republican political campaigns, Bollinger also has served as a member of the Louisiana Board of Regents, the University of Louisiana System board and the Louisiana Recovery Authority board.
Dr. Christopher J. Rich, managing partner of Mid-State Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Center in Alexandria. Rich serves on the governing boards for the Central Louisiana Ambulatory Surgery Center and Red River Bank, where Blake Chatelain, chairman of the LSU System Board of Supervisors, serves as president and chief executive officer. Rich also is chairman of orthopedics at Huey P. Long Medical Center, an LSU hospital in Pineville. Jindal spokesman Kyle Plotkin said Rich is relinquishing that title.
David Voelker, president of Frantzen-Voelker-Conway Investments LLC. Voelker has occupied several public appointments in recent years, including Jindal's Postsecondary Education Review Commission. He still serves as chairman of the Louisiana Recovery Authority board.
That's a plum little post for three huge GOP political donors and just one doctor.
Of course, we have always advocated the FHL/RMJM alternative plan to gut and rebuild Charity Hospital and accelerate the construction of a new VA Hospital on the land held in limbo due to LSU's inability to produce a plan capable of closing its funding gap. The alternative plan would prevent the needless expropriation and demolition of a residential neighborhood and yield two brand new medical facilities in less time and for hundreds of millions of dollars less than the proposal favored by Jindal.
Perhaps if our state and local politicians pursued the restoration of emergency healthcare services to New Orleans residents and regional veterans with the same urgency with which they seek to solidify patronage appointments, we could have adopted the alternative plan years ago.