Monday, May 24, 2010

A Response to Mayor Landrieu

Watching Mayor Mitch Landrieu's recent remarks to the Preservation Resource Center, I couldn't help but notice, for all his reasonable observations, how flippant he was when it came to historic preservation in Lower Mid-City.

Go to about 4:40 on the video here.

"I don't think we oughtta tear down Charity Hospital building...That doesn't mean that we shouldn't build a new LSU hospital.  Now I know sometimes people are confusing those two things.  But one of 'ems about historic preservation and one of 'ems about medical care.  It doesn't have anything to do with the footprint that the new LSU hospital ought to be on - that can be part of urban design as well.  But we ought to be smart enough to figure out how to have that discussion...and not let that discussion get co-opted - and abused - by activists who are not interested in finding an answer, but are interested in pushing an agenda."

The Mayor states that he doesn't want to tear down the existing Charity Hospital building.  But he doesn't want to put the LSU hospital in that structure, as I've pointed out before.

And he's completely wrong when he tries to state that saving the existing Charity structure is the only relevant concern about historic preservation...while the destruction of hundreds of historic buildings in Lower Mid-City is somehow not about historic preservation, but about medical care alone.  That's a raw fallacy, and I don't see why the PRC membership in attendance deigned to give him a standing ovation.  Historic preservation concerns are inherently intertwined.

I know the Mayor, in slapping activists as hijacking the hospitals discussion, meant those opposed to the proposed hospital footprints in Lower Mid-City (many of whom supported a reasonable and feasible alternate plan to reduce the footprint by putting LSU back in Charity - a plan that was arguably faster, less expensive, and less destructive).  But his words could have applied just as easily to the LSU, VA, and New Orleans city government zealots that have pushed the current proposed hospital footprints forward at every step, despite the illogic of the moves, with near complete disregard for historic preservation (or, as we began to see this spring, private property rights).

Fear of activists co-opting a discussion is really just code for ensuring that his own underlying view on the matter - get the federal money above all else - prevails.  As with the fallout from his police chief task force, it demonstrates that he seems to have a problem with tolerating different viewpoints.

No comments: