Wednesday, June 29, 2011

That Tired Old Spin

Here's some spin from a campaign email sent out by Senator Karen Carter Peterson, legislative author of the bill that created the BioDistrict:

Forging Ahead for a Healthcare Game-changer in New Orleans

The legislature also resisted changes and roadblocks to the planned University Medical Center in lower Mid-City New Orleans. My priorities continue to be to vastly improve and expand healthcare in New Orleans, not just for the provision of care to our people, but also for the tremendous economic opportunity a medical-research corridor represents to our city.

Resisted roadblocks?  Like what?  Is she referring to HCR-59, which would have provided greater legislative oversight and public accountability in order to avoid a fiscal disaster?  If so, she's mischaracterizing the measure.  I'm not sure why she's so quick to trumpet the fact that she resisted changes to the UMC - changes are certainly needed if the UMC is to avoid becoming a boondoggle.

As with so many politicians in the area, she seems to be stuck blindly on the idea that the UMC must be pushed forward as proposed - that somehow alternative designs or sites nearby would not bring just as many jobs and economic development opportunities to the area.

And as for the "medical-research corridor" - read BioDistrict New Orleans - remember that Senator Karen Carter Peterson did not move to exclude Mid-City from the BioDistrict even after the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization publicly asked to be removed from the boundaries of the "vastly" large 1,500-acre district (and no, to my knowledge, the neighborhood was never asked if it wanted to be in the district at the outset).  She did not take action even though a relevant bill regarding the BioDistrict was moving through the legislature this session.

"No Significant Impact"

Apparently, according to government officials, tearing down a 25-foot section of the canopy along the old Dixie Brewery has no significant impact on historic resources.  That's according to a recent determination that permitted contractors to do just that without further discussion.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Copper heading out of McDonogh No. 11 School

This morning, I thought it was curious that contractors were walking around inside the fence at McDonogh No. 11 School in the UMC Footprint.  See above.

This afternoon, I caught workers for Midwest Missouri Contractors, presumably a subcontractor on the project, carrying what appeared to be large sections of copper piping out of the building.  See below.

I am not certain what the next step for the school building is...but the state had better be able to demonstrate that it is using "best efforts" - in the legal sense - to move the building, as required by the City Council's street revocation ordinance.

Driven Out - the final resident has departed the LSU/VA Footprint

Last week Wednesday, I noticed that Humble Rumble was gone.  His home on S. Roman Street in the LSU Footprint, now boarded and absent its characteristic American flag and plants, consisted of a living space on one side of the building and a small studio on the other side.

A U.S. military veteran who rode out Katrina in his home, Humble Rumble was one of the first residents that I met while venturing inside the Footprint.  I would later see him at various stages in the elimination of the neighborhood - out on his porch, riding his bike, talking to tourists passing through, standing with the group in support of saving McDonogh No. 11, and at City Hall (where he spoke and sought just compensation for being displaced).

From what I can tell - and I've given it a week to sink in, in case I missed someone - Humble Rumble was the last resident of the LSU Footprint to go.

And, as the last resident of the LSU Footprint, he was the last remaining resident of the entire 67-acre LSU/VA footprint.  Federal, state, and local government has worked in concert to destroy a neighborhood that was trying to recover from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

All told, based on assessments done in 2008, over 600 people have been displaced by the project, 287 of them in the LSU Footprint alone, along with over 50 small businesses.

I, for one, will not forget.

212 S. Johnson - demolished this morning

Here's what it looked like until today.

UMC House Moves - Note

It seems concrete steps were being taken yesterday to start preparing for UMC (LSU Footprint) house moves.

I'm not holding my breath, but house moves off the second proposed hospital site would be a positive development at this point, following the demolition of so many fine buildings in the LSU Footprint to date.  Thus far, despite preservationists raising awareness since October of last year, not a single building has moved off the LSU Footprint.  It still doesn't entirely make sense given the uncertainty about financing and a business plan, but the alternative would be demolition...under the same set of conditions.

Any house moves should do two things: 1) keep the roofs on buildings and keep buildings intact to the utmost extent possible to reduce damage to the houses once they've moved to new locations, and 2) place houses in appropriate historic context, to the maximum extent possible, with some notice to neighborhood organizations and immediate neighbors of the destination lots.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Happy Story

While there's a bittersweet undertone, of course, it was good to run into some of the positive results of the architectural salvage that was mandated for the LSU/VA site preparation.

Pushed for by preservationists and required by the Programmatic Agreement (PA) that came out of Section 106 consultations, salvage of certain architectural elements led to a massive output of salvaged items at Habitat for Humanity's Marigny Re-Store, as I've documented here on the blog.

Last week, however, I was making my rounds in the Lower Garden District, only to learn that several of the historic renovation projects I was touring...used doors and windows, almost exclusively, that had been salvaged from properties in the LSU/VA Footprint.

I've shared photos of two such properties here.  Again, while it's unfortunate that a neighborhood was lost, it is good to see that some elements survived what otherwise would have been outright demolition for reuse in other buildings that are being brought back online from decades of sitting in a blighted condition.

McDonogh Boarded

As of last Wednesday, a number of of window and door openings on the vacant McDonogh No. 11 School building in the UMC Footprint had been boarded.  It's not clear to me whether the effort was preventive or in response to something.

The school's fate is back in limbo at present.  The state now need only use "best efforts" to move the school out of harm's way.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What's Left in the LSU Footprint

Twenty-five houses remain in the LSU/UMC Footprint, along with a number of other structures.  Here are links to images of 23 of the houses:

224 S. Galvez - Single 3-bay shotgun with heavy ornamentation (on right in photo)

1823 Palmyra - Single Shotgun.

2114 Cleveland - Single Craftsman Shotgun with recessed side gallery (on left in photo)

301 S. Roman - Single, corner building with deep overhang

2000-02 Cleveland Avenue - Double Shotgun

2038-40 Cleveland - Double Shotgun

1905-07 Cleveland - Double shotgun

2034-36 Cleveland - Double Shotgun

2108-2110 Cleveland - Double Shotgun

224-26 S. Johnson

325 S. Johnson - Single shotgun, vinyl siding - now office space

2101-03 Palmyra - Double shotgun, early construction

1929-31 Palmyra - Double shotgun

1827 Palmyra - Single shotgun with side gallery

2123 Palmyra - Not old construction

220-22 S. Prieur - Double with a camelback

303-05 S. Roman Street - older construction

212 S. Johnson - Single Shotgun with rear wing

1926-28 Cleveland - double with camelback

1932-34 Cleveland - double with camelback

1936-38 Cleveland - double with camelback

1933-35 Cleveland - double shotgun

1716 Cleveland Avenue - Craftsman interesting

Friday, June 24, 2011

The City's take on HCR-59

Here's how the Mayor's communications staff characterized the measure to provide greater legislative oversight and a fiscally responsible approach to the UMC project:

"The City and delegation also lobbied successfully against a series of bills and resolutions designed to strip New Orleans of resources and funding. Chief among them were efforts to slow down the $1.2 billion University Medical Center project in Mid City. The delegation fought off House Concurrent Resolution 59 by Rep. Cameron Henry which would have require full legislative approval of the UMC business plan, significantly slowing down the project’s start date."

Again, the rabid attempt to push the project forward at all costs strikes me as irresponsible.

If the city was truly worried about slowing down the project's start date, it would have long ago supported the FHL study's recommendation to build new within the existing Charity shell - a process that would certainly have been a faster way to bring healthcare back online - rather than razing a neighborhood into submission and wading into a legal morass.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

AP gets its slant on

Take a look at this AP report on the fate of HCR-59...and note just how slanted the reporter's take was:

Legislative hurdle for new teaching hospital killed

BATON ROUGE — An attempt to add legislative roadblocks to construction of a new public medical center in New Orleans failed to gain passage in the House, killing the proposal for the session.

Why exactly was the measure a "hurdle" - ?  That connotes an impediment.  The reporter could have just as easily chosen to characterize the measure as "Legislative safeguard"...but very clearly chose not to for some reason.

Proceeding into the opening paragraph, the measure's provision requiring full legislative approval is characterized pejoratively as "legislative roadblocks"...when they could just as easily have been called "accountability measures" or "greater fiscal oversight."  Again, the slanted preference of the reporter comes through as clear as day.

While the piece does briefly reference the way in which supporters presented the measure, the damage is already done - readers see the measure as a hostile attempt to kill the UMC hospital because of the improper way the issue is framed with the language employed.

HCR-59 Update looks beyond the measure's defeat in the Louisiana House yesterday.

"somebody's going broke"

Garland Robinette, hosting Fred Cerise and Larry Hollier on WWL radio, made this market-based observation today, surveying the various hospital projects that are supposed to come online here in the New Orleans metro area (Chalmette, Methodist in the East, etc.) and will ultimately increase the hospital bed oversupply that already pervades the metro region.

Cerise said something to the effect of "Whatever we do will not affect the number of beds in Louisiana."  While that may be true in some official reporting sense, it certainly seems a ridiculous statement when considered in the realm of reality (unless he knows something I don't know about a massive planned reduction in beds elsewhere in the state).

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Displaced, Demolished

It may not have been much to look at.  And it wasn't historic by any means, from what I could tell.

But the Avis Car Rental shop on Canal Street, located in the LSU Footprint, was a functioning business.  Like dozens of small businesses in the LSU and VA Footprints, it was displaced and forced to relocate as usable buildings were demolished for a project without adequate financing or a business plan.

Driving old Dixieland Down

Crews, as seen off in the background, moved in.

HCR-59 rescheduled for debate today

The measure continues to get bumped in the Louisiana House of Representatives.  It's now ostensibly up for consideration today.

Please call your state legislators and Speaker Jim Tucker's office to ensure that the concurrent resolution is actually debated and voted on before the session is out.  Tucker's office can be reached at: (504)393-5646 or

Encourage them to support HCR-59 to bring greater legislative oversight to the UMC project.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Letter from Sandra

Well put.

A way to support greater legislative oversight of the UMC

Sign the petition in support of HCR-59 here.

As I noted earlier, this measure would be a positive step forward.

HCR-59 was scheduled for floor debate today in the Louisiana House of Representatives, but it's not clear from the website that the measure has been acted on at this point.

Friday, June 17, 2011


The Mayor and his posse have strapped themselves onto a horse with one leg - the fact that the state has continued to demolish the umc site. There is no business pla, insufficient financing, and a perfectly viable alternative in the FHL Charity retrofit plan that is now supposedly verboten by the Mayor's fiat and nothing more. Good luck with that. Keep digging in your spurs, Mr. Mayor. The "naysayers" are trying to keep this from being a boondoggle that drags the state and New Orleans back into the mud.

Staying the course right now shows a sad susceptibility to fall for the promise of a jobs utopia. Building inside the existing hospital shell would still return thousands of jobs - and cost less.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Still Watching Dixie

Yesterday, the VA noted that it will be removing 25 feet of the canopy along the white wooden portion of the Dixie Brewery that fronts Tulane Avenue:

Dixie Brewery update

Ladies and Gentlemen,
On May 26, 2011, VA provided SHPO with information related to the existing canopy of the Dixie Brewery. VA proposes to remove approximately 25 feet of canopy, beginning at the original masonry structure west along Tulane Avenue to afford access to construction machinery as well as provide a safe work environment for personnel to conduct portions of the Dixie Brewery Feasibility Study as required by the Programmatic Agreement.

On June 8, 2022, SHPO determined the proposed canopy removal would not constitute an adverse effect because a portion of the extant canopy will remain.
Correspondence between VA and SHPO has been posted to the FTP site in a folder labeled "Dixie Brewery" and is available on
Thank you.

I'm not sure how the State Historic Preservation Office managed to make a determination of no adverse effect.  I'm also not sure how the State Historic Preservation Office managed to make said determination from in the the year 2022.

Substantively, 25 feet seems excessive for merely facilitating the structural study.  It sounds like a stealth move toward demolition that will somehow suddenly be inevitable or unavoidable given the change in condition.

Here's more of the latest on Dixie Brewery.

Press Conference on UMC Scheduled for Today, Thursday, at City Hall

If you're going to should go early, in my experience.  When it's a hot button issue, the pressers tend to roll earlier than announced:

June 15, 2011

Ryan Berni
504-658-4992 (office)
504-621-9504 (cell)


Tomorrow, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, City Council members and New Orleans regional business leaders will hold a press conference regarding the University Medical Center and biomedical corridor.

WHO: Mayor Mitch Landrieu
City Council members
New Orleans regional business leaders

WHEN: Thursday, June 16, 2011
3:15 pm CST

WHERE: Mayor’s Press Room
1300 Perdido Street, 2nd Floor


Ryan Berni
Press Secretary
Office of Mayor Mitch Landrieu
City of New Orleans

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Where is he getting those numbers?

"Mayor Mitch Landrieu said the region can't afford to slow down a project that could create between 12,000 and 17,000 jobs."

First, where is that 17,000 figure coming from?  I have not heard anything close to that before - although I have heard the BioDistrict toss around inflated pie-in-the-sky numbers like that for construction jobs that would ostensibly be created by the 1,500-acre GNOBEDD.  That's a much different thing than the UMC hospital, however, and it's disturbing that the Mayor either doesn't understand that distinction or....

Second, why is it that thousands of jobs would somehow not be created if the facility opened in a revamped, state-of-the-art facility in Charity Hospital?  It's the same tired fallacy rearing its head once more - the notion that going back into Charity will somehow not produce jobs or economic development.  Say it over and over again often enough and people will start to believe it.  It's not at all true, though.

"I would just encourage people to move forward very aggressively. We are five years down the road. This is probably the biggest economic development project that the state has seen," said Landrieu.

Once again, it seems the Mayor cares far more about short term economic development - the dollar signs hanging in front of everyone's eyes - than about healthcare and doing what's sustainable fiscally in the longer run.  It's Houston-envy taking over.  The whole reason we're now in this crisis mode on the UMC is precisely because the state, the LSU administration, and city officials have been moving forward aggressively for years without doing the basic things that should attend development of a major project like a hospital complex.

As a friend noted in response to the story linked above: "This could have been resolved five to six years ago.  The patients interviewed here could have had their health-care restored, if LSU, the state, and the city officials weren't so stubborn about their insistence that New Orleans' new hospital be a suburban-sized behemoth..."

And if the DDD, BioDistrict, and the Regional Planning Commission weren't so stubborn as well, pushing hard behind the scenes to get in on the indirect development opportunities that would flow from the exodus of the hospitals from the CBD.

If anyone can find a source that says the UMC as proposed would create as many as 17,000 jobs, please send it my way.  I have yet to see such numbers.

House Speaker Tucker on the UMC

WWLTV carries an interview with the Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives entitled 

"N.O. teaching hospital in limbo"

"LSU's plan...isn't sustainable...and isn't financeable"

Click to Enlarge - And Never Forget

Photographer Jackson Hill flew near the VA and LSU Footprints recently.  You can see the VA site in the middle, cleared.  At lower right, you see the dense, historic neighborhood streetscapes that are very much like those that were laid to waste nearby.

And off in the background, you can see that the LSU or UMC Footprint is still not clear - despite multiple assertions by news media and public officials.

Treasurer Kennedy on the UMC Situation

Here's his great perspective from Garland Robinette's radio show today.

Contact your LA State Representative Today

Tell your representative to support Representative Henry's HCR-59, which will likely come up on the floor of the Louisiana House tomorrow.

The measure would require greater oversight of the UMC hospital project by requiring full legislative approval before the project could move forward given the ongoing lack of a business plan and the uncertainty over $400 million in financing necessary for completion of the project.

If ever there was a project in need of greater oversight to protect taxpayers from a major boondoggle, this is it.

Mayor: Any talk of retrofitting Charity is "bad"

Like an eighth grader getting upset at anyone who disagrees with him, the Mayor, last evening, labeled any talk of going back into Charity Hospital as plain old "bad." Despite a $600,000 study that says it can be done, it's bad because the Mayor says so.  I'm not really seeing any other reasons laid out:

"Anything that slows it down is bad, anything that continues to talk about, you know, a new hospital in the old Charity Hospital building is bad. I would ask people to stay focused on the thing that's in front of us which is building a brand transformative, economic development engine that surrounds medical care and economics," Landrieu said.

Well, I guess the letter from the National Trust that went out to legislators late last week suggesting that the Charity option be looked at anew given the continued uncertainty surrounding the UMC...must've been a really "bad" development.  I guess the 11,000 petitions signed by citizens of New Orleans calling for the adaptive reuse of Charity to create a modern hospital facility are all "bad" too.  So is the continued push for greater legislative oversight over the project to ensure that taxpayers aren't saddled with a boondoggle for decades to come.  Just terribly, horribly bad.

The Mayor's statement also employs the same fallacy that we've seen over and over again during this fight - that somehow the notion of rebuilding in Charity is mutually exclusive with having a 21st Century, state of the art hospital facility.  Just as he does on preservation and public safety, the Mayor creates a false choice and then vilifies anyone who doesn't support his selected approach.  It's a really unhealthy tactic - especially when simply willing the hospital forward, blinders on, ultimately has to be reconciled with the reality of a continued lack of adequate financing and a business plan, as well as the potentially crippling state subsidy rates. As I've noted, it seems the Mayor has his eyes set on the Charity complex for city use.  But it does seem strange for him to be so vocally opposed to the consideration of a less expensive option that would bring healthcare back online more quickly.

If the mayor didn't want the return of healthcare slowed down - his comments show he's likely far more concerned about the development dollars - he would have insisted that the UMC go in Charity back when he took office...before the destruction of the UMC site had begun.

The Mayor's comments also tend to confirm my suspicions - that he was likely dead-set against going into Charity at the Monday meeting with Governor Jindal.

And now Bobby Yarborough from the UMC Board has joined the chorus trying to shut down the idea of going back into Charity..."It is very apparent from the board that the idea of going back to Old Charity is completely off the table. We have moved away from this option," said Yarborough.

But I thought the governor just commanded the UMC Board to look at all possible alternatives and options?

Nothing should be off the table at this point.  And rebuilding in Charity is the one plan that has actually been thoroughly studied.  It could be done now with the funding the state currently has onhand.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Latest Vitter Letter

I'm still wondering what's up with Charity - will even a partial retrofit of the existing building be part of the plan?

Here's the latest letter from today:

2104 Cleveland Avenue

Salvage continues today on the 2-bay camelback at 2104 Cleveland Avenue, while some salvage is better than none, it's nonetheless an ominous sign that this property is headed toward demolition in the UMC Footprint.  The building was in great shape and occupied only a few months ago.

The dismantling of the property comes even as we're told that discussions continue related to house moving in the UMC (not a single property has moved in the site to date) and even as federal, state, and city officials reveal just how uncertain the UMC's scope and size will be.

Monday, June 13, 2011

UMC Situation: Now More Fluid Than Ever

According to this brand new Times-Picayune piece, just published tonight, it's even more unclear what the UMC will look like.

The uncertainty continues.  At every step of the way, this project continues to morph, and it seems like most people in Baton Rouge are in denial about just how dicey this thing has become.

This particular facet about considering alternatives but nonetheless bulling forward makes no sense - and continues to convince me that Governor Bobby Jindal is irresponsible, far more irresponsible than I could have imagined in 2008:

Yet the governor also insisted that such an effort, which would involve commissioning another outside consultant, not upset the existing timeline of approving a business and financing plan by late summer and beginning construction in earnest in the succeeding months.

"I don't think this has to slow anything down," Jindal said.

Even with the size, scope and financing still not finalized, the UMC is projected to open in 2015.

That's it - keep expropriating and bulldozing even though we don't have the money and we don't know what the overall plan will actually consist of in the end.  This approach is so antithetical to my understanding of conservatism, especially fiscal conservatism, that I don't even know what to say anymore.  Jindal is so wrong on this issue that it blocks out just about anything else he does.

And then there's David Vitter's comment in the article, which is quite ironic since he's been pushing for a full and fair consideration of all alternatives:

Jindal, Landrieu and Vitter, meanwhile, said the participants in the meeting agreed that any new hospital would involve new construction. Vitter said he saw an overhaul of the old Charity building as a viable option "earlier in the process." But, he said, "practically, it's fair to say that closing out that possibility is where we are."

So now that the UMC Board will finally consider alternatives... ""It's the governor making clear that (the board's) mandate isn't to be put into any box by LSU or anyone else," Vitter said."...Vitter is going to pre-emptively foreclose the alternative of going back into Charity?  Again, I don't understand his logic here.  I hope the newly-empowered UMC Board ignores the attempt by the meeting attendees to box them in.

I will speculate, though, that the mayor was likely the most ardent opponent of going back into Charity at today's meeting.  All signs indicate he's now fixated on making the existing Charity building into a grandiose new city hall.  And he clearly can't stand most of the individuals and groups that support retrofitting Charity because they represent dissent, something that's clearly not welcome in city discussions these days.

CityBusiness on HCR-59

Here's the abbreviated version of the AP report from today's committee meeting up in Baton Rouge.

Note how the report labels it a "roadblock" and a "hurdle" rather than a good government measure that keeps the taxpayers of the state from being saddled with a boondoggle.

Vitter/Tucker/Kennedy issue a new press release

Interesting (click to read):

One could read the tea leaves and say that the other "assets" being discussed are...the Charity Hospital complex and former VA hospital complex.

But given the fact that Greenstein and the Mayor were on hand...I'll wait to see what this cryptic release actually means.

Will whatever emerges from this meeting entail rebuilding in the existing Charity shell, as it should?  Or will it be entirely focused on new building?

It's amazing that this meeting even happened.  I think it's safe to say that nobody out there truly knows what's going to happen next.

HCR-59 Passes out of House Appropriations Committee

After about an hour of debate and public comment, the measure, which would require full legislative approval of various aspects of the UMC project, most notably related to financing, passed 12-11.

Here's the AP report on the committtee move from The Advocate's blog.

Opponents of the measure kept saying at the meeting that the resolution would delay the project - and touted the level of oversight over the project.  I really don't buy that argument; this project needs a lot more oversight given the uncertainty that continues to swirl around it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Still Standing

[click photo to enlarge]

Here's a shot to contrast with the WWLTV statement from Friday's spot:

""The land is cleared for the new University Medical Center in Mid-City"

The three camelbacks pictured, all along Cleveland Avenue in the LSU Footprint, are still standing. And they were all occupied until recent months. They're still looking good despite four years of planner's blight caused by the designation of the footprint.

The double shotgun in the foreground at left was also occupied until only a few weeks ago.  It stands as well, along with dozens of historic buildings in the proposed site of the UMC.

In the legislature tomorrow

HCR-59 will be considered by the House Appropriations Committee.

Here's the operative language - it's an attempt by legislators to require greater legislative oversight of the UMC and the financing that attends it:

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Absolutely Not - WWLTV gets multiple facts wrong in UMC reporting

"The land is cleared for the new University Medical Center in Mid-City"

WWLTV Channel 4 gets a fundamental fact seriously wrong.  It's dangerously misleading because it has the potential to influence the debate on the UMC alternate proposal significantly.  And it's just sloppy, sloppy reporting.

The UMC footprint has not been cleared. The VA Footprint has been cleared.

Over 25 historic structures remain in the UMC Footprint, along with over a dozen other buildings.  Many parcels have been razed and cleared, but to say that the entire area has been cleared is factually incorrect.

WWLTV, like the Times-Picayune, then fails to mention the fact that the Vitter-Kennedy-Tucker plan calls for building in the Charity Shell...and only building in the current UMC footprint if building in Charity is not feasible for some reason.  Instead, WWL drops this mischaracterization of the plan:

The plan calls for the state to purchase Tulane Hospital downtown and Tulane's Lakeside Hospital in Metairie.
The state would also build a new 250-bed hospital on the land cleared in Mid-City.

I don't get it.  Is there no media outlet in town that will actually read the alternate proposal and report on it factually?

Mid-Century Modern

This small building on the remaining stub of Banks Street - seemingly part of the Children's Clinic (the portion to the right had already been demolished) - went down this week in the UMC Footprint.

Not True

"The area where New Orleans is setting the pace, medical facilities, is where Simonson says construction demand is likely to intensify. Work is already under way on the nearly $1 billion Veterans Affairs hospital in Mid-City and plans continue to evolve for the University Medical Center. While its final size remains up for debate, all signs point to a hospital being built next to the VA’s facility."

All signs do not point to a hospital being built next to the VA's facility.  This excerpt from a CityBusiness piece, posted yesterday at 9:00 a.m., should have reflected the previous day's news about the alternate UMC plan because it rendered the author's statement significantly less valid.

Then again...there's been this connection noted for several years now.


The latest Times-Picayune article on the Vitter/Kennedy/Tucker UMC proposal mischaracterizes the proposal.

While the article says: ""Instead, they advocated that the state build a smaller new facility on the Mid-City footprint, while purchasing Tulane Medical Center, which consists of downtown and Metairie campuses owned by Tulane University and the for-profit Hospital Corporation of America."

...the proposal from the three GOP figures actually says:

In other words, the T-P article is wrong to suggest that the trio wants the state to build a smaller new facility in the Mid-City footprint.  They only want that IF a 250-bed facility cannot be recreated within the shell of the existing Charity Hospital.  And based on the study conducted by FHL and authorized by the Louisiana Legislature, it could likely be done within the Charity shell.

Why did the Times-Picayune fail to mention that the alternate UMC plan includes a call for re-use of Charity Hospital?

Friday, June 10, 2011

"The existing project is large, cumbersome and I'm not certain financeable. And I have great concern about the project ever being able to get finished," Tucker said.

From the Speaker himself...on the listing UMC project that continues to somehow justify demolishing buildings in a national historic district.

From the Baton Rouge Business Report

Jindal questions efficiency of Vitter hospital plan

Gov. Bobby Jindal is questioning whether an alternative proposal for a New Orleans public medical center, involving the purchase of two Tulane University hospitals, would be the most efficient way to build a new teaching facility. But Jindal says he's planning to talk to U.S. Sen. David Vitter, House Speaker Jim Tucker and Treasurer John Kennedy to get more details of what they're suggesting before making a decision on whether he thinks it's a workable proposal. The meeting will take place after the legislative session ends on June 23. Vitter, Tucker and Kennedy this week pitched an alternative to the University Medical Center proposal sought by LSU and backed by Jindal. The trio says their idea would cost $800 million, compared to $1.2 billion for the current plan.

A Bad Sign

The brackets were gone on this little camelback at 2104 Cleveland some time ago, as I reported.

Now the corbels over the door and window are gone.

And a crew was inside taking down chimney brick.

It could be preparation for moving, but I doubt it.

The Idiocy Continues - State, UMC, Jacobs, subs proceed with multiple demolitions in UMC Footprint despite growing uncertainty

This great house on S. Prieur Street, a wonderful example of New Orleans architecture from circa the 1870s, in good shape and occupied until recently by multiple families, is now gone, demolished for a proposed hospital that may never be built in the LSU Footprint.

The two-story building (at right above) stood immediately next to the still-in-danger McDonogh No. 11 School (the City Council, at last week's June 2 meeting on street revocation, watered down the City Planning Commission command to save or move the building...the state now only has to "use best efforts" - which functionally means that the state will likely demolish it).

Thanks, City Council members, for not making UMC street revocation contingent upon the state agreeing to move all remaining historic structures off the site.  You had a point of leverage that could have stopped this, and you did nothing.  While there are a cast of characters to blame in this steaming heap of stupidity piled up over years, you're to blame for this particular loss.  This one's on you.

If I sound bitter, once again, it's because this sort of squirming by public officials in the face of alternatives makes a person bitter.  Throughout this saga, there has been no champion for what's right on the City Council - the one body that should be looking out for neighborhoods, for residents, and for the city's architectural heritage.  There have been many nods and poses, many excuses, and several half-attempts.  But no member decided to suck it up, do what's right, and vote "No" on anything related to the LSU/VA project.

That's shameful, and I hope it's not forgotten.

Also lost this week:

The corner two-story building at S. Prieur and Canal, former home of a Zulu King.

Here's what it looked like as crews started inside on May 16:

The Canal Street Guest House, too, is gone. The irony is deep and dark - given that the Landrieu administration touted the concessions it got from the state last week, including the possible inclusion of a strip of commercials space along Canal...right where the Canal Street Guest House used to stand.

A picayune for your thoughts

The Times-Picayune assesses the Vitter-Kennedy-Tucker UMC alternative.

It's called a "long shot" in the print version's interior cut headline...but I don't know that it is so far-fetched.  The reason that the project seems ready to roll is because the state artificially created a sense of momentum and inevitability by demolishing most of the site and holding a faux groundbreaking.

That's all meaningless if there's no money to complete the facility...and if the legislature still holds the strings on the plan.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Clancy DuBos gets it wrong

"As for the $100 million annual subsidy — which is a top-end estimate for a decade hence — let’s keep things in perspective."

Wrong.  DuBos is either willfully misrepresenting the figure for an estimated annual state subsidy for the UMC project or he simply didn't read the latest Kaufman Hall report at all (or attend the UMC Board meeting where it was presented).

He refers to the figure as the top end of a range several times: "and the consultant’s report projects state subsidies of up to $100 million by 2020."

Let's be clear: $100 million was an average estimate, not the top estimate, that an observer could draw from the report.  At the last UMC Board meeting, the consultants presenting noted that the subsidy would likely be within a range of about $25 million on either side of that figure. So $125 would be a better "top-end" estimate if you're willing to accept the middle band of likelihoods.

If you're looking for the true, sobering top-end number for a possible annual subsidy requirement by 2020...there's a number on page 42 of the latest Kaufman-Hall report.  $147 million annually.  That's an estimate if certain federal and state reimbursement policies shift in a certain way.

$100 million is a good estimate if you figure nothing will go wrong.  And given the nature of the UMC project thus far, that's not a good bet to make.

More on the Vitter/Kennedy/Tucker UMC Proposal


The Daily Comet (full AP)

The Hayride

BOMBSHELL: Vitter, Kennedy, and Tucker Send Alternative UMC Plan to Jindal

This is big:

Obtained by The Associated Press, the letter proposes buying a share of Tulane University's New Orleans hospital and a Jefferson Parish hospital. Combined with a new facility smaller than the 424-bed hospital proposed by Jindal, the three would make up University Medical Center.

The plan envisions costs well below the $1.2 billion current price tag and would be achieved with dollars already in hand.

Here are the provisions of the suggested alternate plan from the letter:


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Out of sight

The VA Footprint is slowly disappearing behind screening that continues to crop up along the perimeter site fence.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Strange Views

Previously unseen vistas are emerging as the LSU Footprint is taken down.

House moving is still not entirely off the table, and a meeting on the effort is apparently slated for Wednesday.


A story in The Advocate...continues the UMC drum beat of uncertainty.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

UMC financing remains wreathed in crippling uncertainty

Here's yet another piece in today's Times-Picayune where the story from Jerry Jones and Bobby Yarborough changes.

Now the UMC is ostensibly going to venture into the private bond market in search of bonds rated worse than "highly speculative" based on the current interim university hospital model:

The firm based its projections on UMC maintaining cash reserves equivalent to 100 days of expenses. That is well beyond the month-to-month operating capacity of the existing Interim LSU Public Hospital. Yet, analysts noted, that still trails the standards of bond ratings agencies. The median cash on hand for not-for-profit health care entities with BBB-rated debt, according to Moody's, is 121 days, Kaufman Hall said. The BBB rating is the bottom classification of debt rated "highly speculative," 15 steps short of a prime rating.

This makes the City Council's move to revoke the streets on Thursday look even less wise.

Friday, June 3, 2011

"Report: Proposed hospital needs fewer beds"

AP story via CityBusiness.

"the council gives up the city's ownership of the streets in the 37-acre area"

Times-Picayune: New Orleans City Council votes to close streets in hospital footprint

The Lens tweeted the meeting, sharing a number of nuanced observations and quotes - like this one about Jerry Jones losing his temper.  And this one, shortly thereafter, as he was clearly fuming, dismissive of the city council's legal role under the city charter, and ticked at Stacy Head for challenging him.

 You can also watch the debate on the street revocation here.

"there's a lot of risks out there"

WWLTV reports.

"Understand that the state is going to have to step up"

Interestingly, it looks like the image used to accompany the actually the proposed front entrance of the proposed VA Hospital.

From a Facebook Comment

"Forget it. I work for The Blood Center and despite pleas to City, Parish and State officials (who all stated that they agreed with our dilemna), LSU just bulldozed their wishes through. We purchased three pieces of property just around t...he corner on Canal St in January of last year. We've been trying to get permits since then, but, as we all know, City Hall runs at two speeds, slow and non-existent. Because of we are regualted by the FDA, its a little more involved when we have to move compared to other businesses. They kept pushing to expropriate our property. So now we are having to move into a building that is half-finished, and move other operations to an abandoned car dealership temporarily for 6 months. All this so they can tear the building down that we've been in for over 50 years so they can create (and get this), FOR GREEN SPACE FOR THE NEW TEACHING HOSPITAL!!! After Katrina, and now this, I think it is safe to say that government has become a hindrance and not a help to its citizens. To add insult to injury, they only offered us $60/sq ft for our property...try buying a mobile home for that much!! Our space is comparable to a hospital...which the State says will cost them $637/sq ft to build."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

"Before the hospital board met the New Orleans City Council voted to give the medical center control of streets in the project's footprint."

"Smaller Hospital Needed"

Fox8 seems to be getting it with this piece on today's UMC Board meeting.  The report delves into what the Kaufman-Hall presentation might mean for New Orleans:

The consultants said to make the $ 1.2 billion medical complex work $ 75 to $100 million in state funds will need to be infused into it annually to maintain sufficient cash flow.

"And frankly there are a lot of risks out there as well too," said Majka.

"These are not inconsequential risks when I look at the state sources, it's going to be paying for 17 to 20 percent of our budget," said Board member Dr. Byron Harrell.

City Council Revokes the Streets in UMC Footprint Today


The Council voted to revoke before the Kaufman-Hall report on the feasibility of the proposed UMC was even presented to the UMC Board or made public.

The Kaufman-Hall presentation this afternoon showed that a $100 million annual state subsidy would likely be needed, within a likely range from $75 million to $125 million.  One projection in the presentation, however, modeled a change in certain reimbursement policies and showed that as much as a $147 million annual state subsidy might be necessary.

The number of beds projected as "right" for the facility was also lower than the 424-bed facility that UMC has put forward for a long time.