A big hearty thanks and congratulations is due to all of those concerned New Orleanians who participated in last Thursday's marathon City Planning Commission forum on the LSU hospital site selection controversy.
It's not easy to speak in public at an event like this, and with such passion, when you see your municipal officials refusing to take the leadership you demand of them. But over 200 people did, and we commend you.
Nearly all of the citizens who spoke at Thursday's "special forum" expressed their support for a substantive reevaluation of the site selection decision and a formal independent cost-benefit analysis of the competing LSU and RMJM hospital plans (we counted only three speakers in favor of the LSU-proposed Lower Mid-City plan).
We'd also like to recognize the City Planning Commission for holding the forum. That there has never been any kind of municipal-level public meeting about this hospital decision is incredible and unacceptable. The CPC finally provided one and, though the results were an expected disappointment, it is very much appreciated.
For whatever reason, the Commissioners persist in offering that because LSU and the VA are state and federal agencies, respectively, they have no authority to intervene in any way. This assertion is absurd. The City Planning Commission gave it's blessing to the Cooperative Endeavor Agreements and Memorandum of Understanding signed between the city, the state, and the VA that enshrined this boondoggle process.
One of the recurring concerns of those who spoke was the impact this new hospital would have on the master plan of the city. It appeared that everyone in attendance was in strong support of constructing a new hospital and academic medical center, a position supported by the eloquent comments of several doctors and medical professionals in attendance.
What is of great concern is how this new hospital will affect the City of New Orleans. The reason we voted to enshrine a master plan with the force of law was to put an end to the era of closed-door special interest politics. The failure to include a comprehensive and independent evaluation of the biggest development project in New Orleans history not only undermines the credibility of the entire master plan, it is an insult to every citizen who has participated in the planning process.
The City Planning Commission, as the city's planning authority, must show leadership on this issue. We at SaveCharityHospital.com hope that last Thursday's special forum is the first step in the right direction for the CPC. We hope that, if nothing else, the Commissioners are stirred to action by the resounding cry of 200 citizens demanding they do their job.