It was interesting to see Governor Jindal go on a press junket to boost spirits about the sagging LSU/VA medical center proposal in the face of growing public support for a more sustainable alternative that would build new hospitals sooner, for less money, and with a less destructive impact on residential neighborhoods.
For a plan that just months ago was dismissed as a 'done deal' by officials left, right, and center, Jindal's interview with Eric Paulson of WWLTV reiterating his commitment to the LSU/VA boondoggle stands in contrast to the growing realization that this development deal was half-baked to begin with and remains unrealistic today.
Just one example of that is Richard Webster's most recent article in New Orleans City Business.
The odds against Louisiana State University’s gleaming new downtown medical complex seem to be increasing.
First, the Federal Emergency Management Agency came up more than $300 million short of LSU’s request for reconstruction funding. Then state lawmakers tried to block the acquisition of property in lower Mid-City where plans call for the hospital to be built.
Finally, LSU rejected a proposal for a shared governing board with Tulane and Xavier universities that would limit LSU to four of the 11 seats.
On top of that, opponents of the Mid-City site have filed lawsuits to block construction, and time is ticking on a deadline to turn over city property for a Veterans Administration hospital planned next to the LSU facility.
Now the fate of the $1.2 billion medical complex, hailed as a surefire economic boon and the future of health care, appears to be permanently trapped in limbo four years after Hurricane Katrina. And no one can provide a definitive answer as to what will happen next.
Governor Jindal's attempt to reassure the public that construction on the LSU/VA would begin sometime in 2010 is of little substance given the last four years of timetable distortion designed to preclude substantive examination of more realistic alternative plans.