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By Joseph P. Bottini

In days of olde, major league baseball had the ever-notorious Tinkers to Evers to Chance infield.

Today’s “new hospital” has its Perra to Schofield to Stromstad “dog and pony show.”

In a midseason acquisition, the Mohawk Valley Healthcare System (MVHS) has acquired a free agent “closer” for their bullpen.

CEO Darlene Stromstad, fresh from her exploits in North Dakota, has been seamlessly slipped into the line-up of MVHS support staff. 

Having had only one meeting with her, and not witnessing any of her performances with the “show”, I can’t comment on her skill-set. She did act like a lady during the meeting (Bob Schofield also present). She was kind enough to remind me to pick up my hat (and reached to retrieve it for me) as I was about to exit without the chapel – kind gesture of respect toward an elder gentleman.

Questions for CEO Stromstad:

Does she know of the failures of past “one item” fixes proposed for downtown Utica? 

Does she understand the fall-out from this Trojan Horse (downtown location)? 

Is she aware of the history that will be lost and the architecture demolished with this decision – if it is implemented?

Does the concern for the burden on Oneida County taxpayers weigh heavily in her deliberations?

Is the iconic 1928 police station any deterrent to her acquiescing with the few (with personal gains in mind) who actively promote a downtown location?

Do all of the “red flags” (disadvantages to placing this proposed hospital downtown) glow bright enough to give her pause?  

Will she go on to greener pastures once her “hatchet job” (striking out the opposition in the bottom of the ninth inning) is completed in the Mohawk Valley?

Do the facts mean anything when contemplating the task of fitting into the narrative that has been set long before she arrived to join the team? 

Does Ms. Stromstad have any reservations about the money being spent promoting and marketing this project that would better be allocated toward the actual building cost – thus increasing the quality of the hospital?

And, if it does get built downtown, how does one justify the cost of acquiring property (relator and attorney fees), asbestos abatement, demolition of existing buildings and upgrading of the infrastructure as opposed to a “shovel-ready” alternative site readily available?

Is Stromstad aware of the Albany connection and influence in this whole sordid episode in Utica’s recent quest for revival? 

Is she aware that folks on her recently-joined team called us, who favor the Champlin location, “idiots?” Add that to the epithet from Hillary Clinton (“deplorables”) and at age 85 I have been branded a “deplorable idiot.” 

Of course, this is the era of name-calling and mean-spirited discourse brought on largely by President Trump and his adversaries in the heat of political activity. It may not be illegal, but it sure is immoral and causes havoc to my countenance each time I hear such exchanges.

As is, fortunately, the case, I do not have any animosity toward anyone who is of the opposite view from mine on this issue. Actually, many are friends for whom I have fond respect. Although, it is disconcerting that they would put family relations, business considerations and political expediency ahead of doing the right thing for the citizens of Oneida County.

Our Founding Fathers risked their “Lives, Fortunes and Sacred Honor” to provide an opportunity for liberty and democracy. Today’s politicians seem unwilling to risk being disliked, or in their minds even worse, not being reelected. What a shame that they don’t have a screening of the movie, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” for the weaker vessels who lack the intestinal fortitude to “do the right thing because it is the right thing to do.”

Having a daughter in the corporate world, a little bit older than Ms. Stromstad, helps me understand her generation’s thinking, and provides me with an insight into how one could think with one’s heart and be overcome. It is apparent that many of that age group fail to know how to temper their heart-felt emotion with head knowledge.  

None of the above really matters because the essential question still remains: Is there one medical-healthcare advantage for having the hospital downtown as opposed to the better location at Champlin Ave?

No one has yet to utter even a hint of a response to the overarching questions: Why and how was the decision made? Maybe if someone would answer these two questions, I might understand and reverse my opinion. Of course, being I used the facts to elicit my opinion, it would mean the facts would have to change.

The present request for the public’s ideas of what to do with the hospital buildings that will remain is a nice attempt at bringing in the folks – too little, too late. Were the taxpayers given an opportunity to weigh in on the issue?

I must reiterate what I have often stated: There must be something I don’ know that dictates the downtown choice for the hospital location because it sure defies logic and common sense.

Oh, the tangled web we weave when political careers, or future political careers, are involved. It is understandable to a point, but this is way beyond the pale.

All it would take for a real, honest, intelligent discussion among ALL stakeholders is for one in authority to dig deep, down into his/her soul and stand up to the timid vessels in positions of authority. What do you have to lose? 

Is a position on the Utica Common Council so lofty an achievement that one would fear negative consequences? 

And now we are exposed to another “dog & pony show” to promote the downtown hospital. With many posters adorning the buildings purchased (some with coercion/bribe) to be demolished, the officers of Mohawk /Valley Healthcare System (MVHS) paraded employees on a tour of the hospital’s proposed site.  What is interesting is the same joy of having a state-of-the-art hospital can be embraced with the location at Champlin Ave. It is not the hospital that is the question, it is the location of the new hospital.

All of the promotion and marketing that has been done by MVHS is evidence of a weak position. If it is best, why does it have to be sold with cheap, elementary displays of a bully in the schoolyard showing off his new, shiny “lunchbox.” 

If one was a true healthcare professional one would want to know what was going into the hospital, more than where it will be located. Rumor has the following deficits in the plans: the number of medical-surgical beds will be fewer than now available, there is no plan for a dedicated pediatric ward, the number of emergency receiving ports will be fewer, facility for a med-evac helicopter will not be available (structure design too weak to support a roof-top pad), medical office building not planed – just suggested, and who knows what else is being compromised to build the hospital in the location dictated to by “pompous” forces outside of Oneida County.

I will rethink my position if anyone could give me one sound medical advantage for building the hospital downtown instead of at Champlin Ave. In fact, I defy any of those “august” individuals (many with impeccable business and political capital beyond my pay grade) who are publicly promoting the downtown site to engage me in a friendly, public discussion. 

Playing David, (as in David vs Goliath) I have only one stone left in my sling-shot that I can use to counter the opinion of those accomplished local figures of worthy note. 

It is my understanding that they all know this is not the best decision. They each know the better arrangement is available at Champlin Ave.  The interconnection of some of these folks leads me to think the unthinkable: personal, business or political gain trumps the good of the citizens in our community.

A reader could posit a legitimate question, “Why am I so insistent on standing up for what I believe is a huge mistake that will further destroy Utica?”

My answer is simple, it is the moral thing to do. If we don’t stand up for right, as God gives us the ability to see the right, the fabric of a democratic-republic (democracy) will slowly erode until we become like so many other nations – no longer the greatest experiment in self-rule that ever was devised by man. 

To allow the many to be dictated to by the few is to denigrate the integrity of the many. To engage in public discourse is of importance and a choice each of us has to make. 

Utica would be less if good people didn’t stand up to preserve Union Station, Stanley Theater and Hotel Utica? Some folks not in lock-step with the “powers-that-be” were called idiots then also.

In the final analyses, I am just voicing my opinion; knowing that “opinions are like belly-buttons, each of us has one and most are useless.”

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