Decision Maker(s)

A little piece of democracy has been lost due to the process followed in making the decision of where to locate a new hospital in Oneida County.

The people who are going to be responsible for the millions of dollars of cost beyond the “gift” of $300,000,000 donated by New York State had no say in the matter. Most of the planning was done in semi-secret by the powers-that-be in Albany, Utica and Oneida County.

The proper procedure should have been, as per the democratic-republican philosophy, to lay out all the information (with clarity) and offer a referendum to the voters of Oneida County.

It is quite certain in my mind that a dedicated medical healthcare professional would not choose a lesser location over one that would lend itself to a greater healthcare offering. It became known to many that Albany had a heavy hand in the process of choosing the location, leading me to believe the gift was more of a “bribe.”

The reason behind Albany’s decision to urge the downtown location is not clear to me. There are many rumors afloat and to repeat them without verification would serve little purpose. There have been too many rumors and innuendos already.

Needless to say, there have been many reasons given for the various local groups getting behind the project proposal. Widely known, and shared by many, is the desire to rehabilitate the Columbia-Lafayette (COLA) neighborhood. This is not a bad thing. It is long overdue.

Some are very anxious to have a parking garage for the Adirondack Bank Center at Utica Memorial Auditorium. This is not a bad thing. One is needed.

Some are supporting the plan as a natural path of being a friend and desiring to support their friends. Not a bad thing. Friendship loyalty could be a good thing.

Some are looking at the future development of that recreation/entertainment district and hope its up-grade will help in this pursuit. The planned Nexus Center is not a bad thing.

Thus, either for reasons of enhancing facilities and/or events already housed in the Columbia-Lafayette (COLA) neighborhood, or to personally or politically support one’s friends/acquaintances, many individuals and groups have publicly supported the downtown location for the new hospital.

However good the intentions are of those “me too” folks, no one has given a medical healthcare benefit (over the Champlin Ave location) for their decision. If one is making a decision about the healthcare for the area’s citizens, it would be appropriate to include those folks in the process; and measure the decision’s value by medical reasons – not political or neighborhood rehabilitation purposes.

So, we are now in the process of approving the creation of a community hospital over a regional healthcare complex. Yes, the signs (costly) on some of the buildings in the COLA footprint say MVHS Regional Medical Center, inferring a complete medical facility that is not totally the truth. As outlined in previous editorials, listing all of the facility shortcomings and missing services, MVHS Regional Medical Center is not anything but the figment of someone’s imagination as a selling point for the downtown location.

In most of the voters’ minds is the notion that we live under a government with a modicum of resemblance to the democratic-republican ideals. This issue has given pause to the democratic notion, and ignited cause for concern about the direction in which we in Oneida County are going. Let there be more compassion for the payers of this project and less concern for the individual needs of this or that faction outlined above.

A few morning’s ago the Observer Dispatch told us the projected total cost of the project is $548,000,000 without a parking garage or medical office building. As past experience has given us the knowledge that all projects increase during construction, through “change-orders” and unseen problems, the cost may be higher.

Thus, the State’s “gift” of about half the cost of the project makes them eligible for total decision making, and the taxpayers’ half of the cost of the completed project delivers no say in the decision-making process.

I can’t help but think, dictatorship (Albany), oligarchy (local Cabal), or decision making based on what is best for everyone except the people who are paying the bill. Please keep in mind that the total cost of the project is paid for by the people, for the $300,000,000 from the state is also our money collected and otherwise should come our way.

Thus, the folks in Oneida County are financially supporting the project while having no say in the decisions during the process. The worst blow to me is the information that is not given, but allowed to trickle out by rumor and inuendo. This is less than fair; it is unlawful and certainly not honest government.

One day I hope to find out who made the initial decision and why each of the local members of the Cabal supported it. Even this information will not erase the sadness from my heart over the lost opportunity to provide the people of Oneida County, and beyond, with true state-of-the-art medical care. The Mohawk Valley Healthcare System (MVHS) folks calling it state-of-the-art doesn’t make it so. But it is all part of the grand scheme to make the project appear grander than it really is.

I have to compliment the MVHS leadership for conducting an effective marketing and promotional campaign. Although, it saddens me when I think all that money spent promoting the plan could have gone into making the hospital a “tad” better in quality and in the number of services offered.

Total disgust arises when I think of the lost democratic civility that this issue has fostered upon many good people in our community, including those in favor of the plan and those opposed.

The biggest question I have is: “Who made the decision?” The next pressing question begging to be asked is, “With what data was the decision made?” Certainly, the basis for choosing the downtown location must be profound, logical and in the best interests of healthcare for the citizens of Oneida County. Certainly, the health care professionals at MVHS would desire nothing less than the best for their patients. In fact, they have said so many times by repeating their desire for a state-of-the-art medical facility.

If we take them at their expressed word, we become confused when told the location and quality level their present plans. Their stated purpose and their planned purpose do not complement each other. In fact, one denies the other.

Thus, it is easy to see why I say: The biggest question I have is: “Who made the decision?” The next pressing question begging to be asked is, “With what data was the decision made?”



Lockwood Law


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