The creation of a new medical complex will be the largest economic development project in the city's history, yet decisions are being made behind closed doors, without transparency, and without citizen involvement. No public hearings have been held by the City Planning Commission or the City Council on the $1.2 billion project, because no evaluation of alternative proposals for the medical complex have taken plan by the Planning Commission staff. The decision to shutter Charity Hospital in the first place remains shrouded in mystery and controversy. When municipal, state, and federal agencies entered into cooperative endeavor agreements and binding memorandums of understanding to acquire individually-owned lands in Lower Mid-City, the decisions were made behind closed doors without any basic disclosure to the affected public, let alone the opportunity for input. Similarly, the impetus for the creation of the Greater New Orleans Biomedical Development District (GNOBEDD) to provide special tax status for an even wider area including almost all of Mid City remains unknown. Because the city is an active participant in the LSU/VA decision, citizens are increasingly disenchanted with the planning process. New Orleans City Council members have done nothing to lead on this issue and ensure that their constituents are heard. Citizens of New Orleans ask why they should remain involved in the planning process to produce the Master Plan to guide the city into the future when the hired planners have been told not to include the medical district in plan. It is becoming clear to many citizens that the most significant economic/health decision facing New Orleans is being made behind closed doors.

Below you will find a collection of articles pertaining to the government transparency issue:

Picayune: "LSU won't let facts get in hospital's way"

Times-Picayune: "LSU won't let facts get in hospital's way"
by James Gill

The allegation that state and LSU officials are telling a pack of lies in order to screw the feds out of several hundred million dollars does not come from a source with any claim to disinterest.

It comes from a coalition that wants LSU to abandon its plans for a sparkling new medical complex and reopen Big Charity.

But the coalition has produced plenty of evidence that must require FEMA to consider the possibility of jiggery-pokery.

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NEPA lawsuit against VA and FEMA for environmental violations

Full text of lawsuit by National Trust For Historic Preservation claims VA and FEMA failed to follow federal environmental requirements for New Orleans hospitals. Filed May 1st, 2009

List of 60 organizations endorsing call for public hearings as of 4/24/09

List of 60 organizations endorsing call for cost-benefit analysis, public hearings, master planning in hospital process

Press release: NEPA lawsuit against VA and FEMA for environmental violations

Lawsuit by National Trust For Historic Preservation claims VA and FEMA failed to follow federal environmental requirements for New Orleans hospitals. Filed May 1st, 2009

Nagin letter to Jindal regarding NOAH 04/24/09

Letter from Mayor Nagin to Governor Jindal regarding the Governor's plans to close the New Orleans Adolescent Hospital (NOAH). Send April 24, 2009

Tribune: "Charity is More Than a Hospital"

New Orleans Tribune: "Charity is More Than a Hospital, New Deal Era Idea and Art Deco Monument"
by Robert Tannen

Planning for the existing and new health and bio-medical district in New Orleans has so far failed to reflect a long history of respecting New Orleans unique neighborhoods, adaptive reuse of historic and vacant real estate, and working with citizens, stakeholders and property owners to develop a consensus on a workable plan for development.

Instead, a process characterized by planning behind closed doors, routine public meetings to meet federal and other requirements, ignoring citizen opposition, and failing to examine workable alternative plans for a critically needed medical district. No neighborhood, organization, preservationist, or planning group has expressed opposition to a health and bio-medical district. An unprecedented alliance of close to fifty neighborhood associations, preservation leaders, health industry representatives, and planners has called for a more transparent, rational and comprehensive analysis of alternative sites for two new hospitals, and an examination of best land use plans for the existing and proposed neighborhoods.

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"The hospital looked good...they banned us from the building" Dr. Kiersta Kurtz-Burke

Dr. Kiersta Kurtz-Burke and her personal story of being trapped at Charity Hospital during Katrina with over 1200 patients until being evacuated 6 days later. Dr. Kurtz-Burke was associated with Charity Hospital for 10 years and cared for patients in Charity Hospital during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. "The hospital looked really good," Dr. Kurtz-Burke remembers, but LSU officials "banned us from the building." Dr. Kurtz-Burke and thousands of co-workers were banned from the hospital, many lost their jobs, and all lost the opportunity to care for patients of New Orleans at Charity Hospital.

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Tulane confronts LSU control over control of proposed new hospital

Scott Cowen, President of Tulane University, is calling on Tulane alumni to contact Louisiana legislators and tell them that the proposed new public hospital must be governed by an independent board of trustees. “Tell them that no organization should have majority control,” the university website reads. Cowen sent an e-mail to Tulane alumni on Friday and recorded a message on the university’s website.

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Photos obtained by suggest that Charity Hospital was in better condition than LSU and state officials have claimed. The photos, marked with the dates "SEP 25 2005" and "FEB 9 2006", show the state of Charity Hospital after a group of doctors, nurses volunteers and soldiers from the 82nd Airborne cleaned up the hospital in the weeks following Hurricane Katrina. Shortly after, officials from LSU declared the hospital destroyed and unsafe, closing its doors.

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