By Joseph Bottini

For the past four years much untruth has been disseminated by the Mohawk Valley Healthcare System (MVHS).

Either intentionally or in error by an absence of knowledge or plain misunderstanding the facts, MVHS and many who support their position on the new hospital downtown have led people astray.

If this is not the case, I am willing to discuss our differences of information with any MVHS leader, government leader, or any member of those groups that have supported the downtown decision.

The challenge is genuine and non-threatening. Why is it so difficult for those folks to defend their opinion?

If any person be of noble character, he/she would want to have the opportunity to clear up the mysteries surrounding this “hospital downtown decision.”

How was the decision made? Who made the decision? Why has there been so much deceit involved in the project for the past four years?

Obviously, MVHS failed to properly submit the SEQR report as the case is still in litigation and their “request to dismiss” has been denied. We were informed of this monumental announcement a few days ago.

I understand it is a standard legal tactic, but what nerve the MVHS must have to be haughty enough not to rebut a charge, but offer a weak response in the way of a dismissal request.

So, now it is not only a case of destroying much of our local history, destroying some of the sound buildings in the Columbia-Lafayette (COLA) district, keeping the process secret from the public, saddling the taxpayers with a huge debt (presently estimated to be an additional $245,000,000 beyond the state’s stipend of $300,000,000), we now discover the illegal process MVHS has used to obtain permission to implement their ill-conceived downtown hospital.

The rumors that have circulated this past four years have been demeaning to the conscience of any soul worth his/her good character.

It is most difficult for me to understand how so many (otherwise good people) could go so far down the wrong road.

Why would any legitimate, upstanding professional, business person or community leader be so easily persuaded to support mistruths and half-truths?

Does personal greed and “goombah politics” demand one lose one’s individual dignity?

Personally, I find it hard to believe the above is possible. I have to tell myself they have just made an honest mistake in judgement. If I did not take this posture, my tranquil retirement would be totally disrupted.

Let us believe these misguided folks only see the small personal benefit each has convinced him/herself brings good things for the majority of the citizens of Oneida County.

Sure, a parking garage is great. Yes, just pride for the city of Utica is wonderful (I was told New Hartford gets everything and its time Utica was considered). Of course, business considerations by those who have an investment in the COLA district seems reasonable. And, lastly, those who play the difficult game of politics have to be willing to “give in order to take.”

If any indebtedness of the MVHS is to be relieved by this decision, it may be a convoluted reasoning for opting for the downtown location.

If it was just a matter of selecting one location over another equal location, then those in power might have a modicum of merit for their opinion/decision.

However, the inordinate amount of difference between the two final locations considered is indicative of the foolish choice being made by MVHS – to the level of being a fraudulent use of taxpayer dollars.

It is widely understood by those of us without a “dog in the hunt” that a better, more responsible expenditure of that large sum of money (state and local) indicates the Champlin Ave. location to be the better decision.

If those in support of the downtown location could step back from their selfish false creation, (derived from warped reasoning) they would realize the damage being done to the “trust factor” in local politics.

I am sure, all of those who favor the downtown location for the new hospital are capable of better judgement. I know most of them personally and I am aware of the good many of them have done in our community.

However, what any of them has done for the good of the community in the past does not exonerate them from the responsibility to render a sound opinion based on magnanimous, heartfelt, sound thinking now.

The court has found reason to rule against their request to dismiss #nohospitaldowntown’s lawsuit. This is certainly illuminating to those of us who are more at liberty to think without the encumbrance of this or that obligation.

Mike Bosak (Landmarks Society) adequately enumerated the more than two dozen reasons why the Champlin Ave. location was a better choice. I won’t insult your intelligence by repeating them here.

Mike Lehman and others, have given many reasons why the downtown location is detrimental to local history preservation. They have outlined how it will take money (from the actual hospital building) to evaluate, purchase, perform asbestos abatement and demolish acquired properties, as well as recreate a new infrastructure; all before a new hospital building can begin.

Champlin Ave. is shovel ready and over twice the size of the plot being considered.

After looking at all the data, one must ask the simple question, “Why?”

Why is this simple project being hijacked by some otherwise decent community contributors? What is the real reason for this decision?

Those taxpayers who are going to be paying for the next many years have a right to know the answer to such a simple question.

There is an old saying: “Do the right thing, just because it is the right thing to do.” No other consideration need be contemplated. Just do the right thing; right by the patients who will need this facility, right by the enormous history existing in that footprint, right by the taxpayers who will be expected to pay higher taxes for the next many years, right by the unconvoluted thinking in evaluating the best scenario for this project.

Strip away the layers of camouflage, deceit and child-like, selfish greed or the fear of saying, “We made a mistake” – and look at the naked truth. During this season of hope and joy of a savior’s birth (Christmas) and the celebration of a recovered temple (Hanukkah) the mode for redemption and forgiveness is thick in the air. Let us embrace this environment and do the right thing without rancor from any party.

This would take the strength of a Mother Theresa type soul of which there is a supply shortage. It would take just one person willing to pick up that first flat rock and skim it across the pond or take up a large stone and toss it into the middle of the pond and watch the ripples extending out to the shores of reason and righteousness beyond.

Another partner saying is, “It is never too late to do the right thing.”

Nothing will be lost. Those few buildings already demolished were the ones that gave the neighborhood its false reputation of a decaying section of the city. Good they are gone.

Now let us proceed to develop the location with businesses to extend the Genesee corridor of recent development. Let us compliment the “recreation U District” including Harbor Point in continued development of a viable entertainment venue.

And, let us develop a medical complex to supplement that already at the Utica Business Park with a vision for a medical neighborhood including a state-of-the-art hospital – not the Potemkin Village now being proposed.

This notion that we need to consider the municipal boundaries of the town of New Hartford and the city of Utica is sophomoric and counter-productive to progress.

If our founding fathers used the empty reasoning being embraced by the MVHA and their allies, the United States of America would not have lasted past the Continental Convention.

This opportunity before us is much larger than petty local politics or municipal haggling. This is the prudential gift of an opportunity to expand our consciousness and see the big vision for the whole county.

Read the account of the discussions and heated debates that took place in the clash of the founding fathers in building a sound document to build a new nation.

Isn’t it prudent for us to do the same? Ought not it be wise to have open discourse and vote to settle a simple quandary over where to build a new hospital?

Are we any less intelligent and magnanimous of spirit that we can’t imitate their successful process? The continuance of our civil democratic society demands it.

“A democratic republic if you can keep it.” Ben Franklin uttered those innocent words when asked what kind of government was constructed.

In all due respect for our national ideals, I humbly summit that we in 2020 are on the verge of losing that which we had for over 230 years.

And, each time a small, local decision flies in the face of reverence for those ideals created long ago, another piece of our nation is chipped away. Being a part of that destructive process is not to be worn with a badge of honor, but with the cloak of shame, of greed and small mindedness.

I know not what course you may take, but as for me, give me the right as God gives me the wisdom to see the right, even if it means personal and political shunning, as has been experienced these last few years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lockwood Law

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