Saturday, June 11, 2011

How Not to Build Stuff

Maybe they should have thought of this, or something like it BEFORE they declared imminent domain and bulldozed the neighborhood that existed there before. You want to talk about government waste?

Step 1: Your city has a teaching hospital run by the public state university that treats a high volume of at-risk patients. The system has big problems, but the building is solid and would be viable given some serious renovations.

Step 2: Man-made disaster seriously damages the teaching hospital.

Step 3: Agents of the government attempt to repair the teaching hospital. It is a hospital in the middle of a disaster area. Such facilities tend to be useful.

Step 4: Agents of the public state university allegedly stop repairs and close the teaching hospital. They want to declare the old hospital a loss, collect insurance money, collect national disaster money and build a new teaching hospital.

Step 5A: Powers that be know where they would put a new hospital. Friends, family, and connections begin buying cheap land in and around that area. These properties are left to moulder because they'll all get torn down when the new teaching hospital gets built.

Step 5B: Regular citizens who live in that area move back into their homes, and use what little insurance and government disaster aid they can apply for to renovate their homes. They aren't informed by the powers that be that all of their properties will be seized by imminent domain and torn down to make way for a new teaching hospital.

Step 6: Argue in public over the option to renovate the old teaching hospital (for $600 million) or build a new teaching hospital (for $1.2 billion). Ignore homeowners and businesses and other government agencies who have sunk money into properties that will be demolished. Let several years go by without much action, because who really needs a public hospital in the middle of a disaster area to serve at-risk populations?

Step 7: Convince the US Department of Veterans Affairs that the new teaching hospital is a done deal, and that they should start building their new hospital nearby.

Step 8: Convince developers and investors that the new teaching hospital is a done deal, and that they should start building new retail and residential use facilities as if the new hospital is guaranteed to be built.

(Seriously, I have a friend in another city, and some NOLA booster organization gave them a sales pitch that this hospital would be ready to open this fall or winter, with 5,000 new professional jobs coming to town.)

Step 9: Win the argument despite divisive local opionion and viable, cheaper alternatives. A Shiny New Hospital Will Be Built! Begin declaring eminent domain and bulldozing buildings. Move a few historical buildings to shut up the most agitating homeowners and preservationists. Clear dozens of city blocks of structures.

Step 10: Have state and federal officials representing competing intereststs attempt to derail the project at the last minute under the name of hostage taking fiscal conservatism.

Because if you think anything above describes fiscal conservatism (or fiscal liberalism, for that matter) you watch too much cable network news and don't understand the definition.

As a whole, words just fail.

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2 comments:

Editor B said...

I've got some words but they aren't polite.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Truth.

But reading the Vitter-Tucker-Kennedy letter today in the Times-Picayune just prove how easy it is for words to fail.

Back when the Save Charity movement had a shovel ready, less expensive, and quicker hospital plan the commentariat howled for them to "get out of the way" and bulldoze the neighborhood. I notice that these days, now that the neighborhood has been bulldozed, the same commenters are worried about saving the state money.

Funny timing, that.

I guess the Axis of Weasel didn't support fiscal conservatism back then because the money wouldn't have benefited the right interests.

Of course, there is the question no one seems to be asking: what is going to be done with all that land? What special interest is going to pay pennies on the dollar to get that parcel, conveniently located between the money-saving public teaching hospital and the new VA hospital?