Both yesterday's Times-Picayune article and the evening AP article on Senator Vitter's critique of the proposed UMC Hospital introduce an interesting new twist into the controversy. It's the claim from the state and UMC that there's a study underway that might result in the project being scaled back:
"Jindal's Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater said Monday the HUD-backed financing is one of several options the state is pursuing. He said the board appointed to oversee the new medical center's development is awaiting a study that could scale back the project."
That's news to me. As of the Thursday UMC Board Meeting, there was no discussion of a study on scaling back the project. Correct me if I'm wrong, but there was not a peep about moving in such a direction.
Instead, Jerry Jones from the state insisted repeatedly and very overtly that the state was in no way going to build a smaller hospital complex. I can't tell you how clear he made that point. I remember because I was skeptical of the claim every time it was made.
If the project is going to be scaled back, it should be put in the existing Charity Hospital shell as Vitter rightly suggests.
And there's also the nagging problem of the expropriations involved in acquiring the proposed UMC site. If the state hasn't really needed all of the 37-acres in the site...then the taking of many properties was arguably not in furtherance of a public purpose.
At any rate, these concerns and developments are all the more reason to show up at the City Planning Commission hearing today at 1:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers. Show up and speak against the state's premature attempt to revoke all the streets in the UMC Footprint.
Here's a solid new editorial at The Lens explaining why the street revocation would be unwise.