Sunday, September 3, 2017

Downtown Hospital, Chapter 2

I finally found one. I finally found a resident in District 16 that actually wants the hospital to be downtown. I confess, I was surprised but I guess I shouldn't be. Somebody has to want the hospital downtown and yesterday, as I was going door to door, for the first time somebody actually told me they want it there.

It was a nice early September day; my wife and I were out (again) knocking on doors and reminding people that primary day is 1 week from this coming Tuesday. I polished my introduction to the point of telling people that I was running and why. I learned to make sure to tell people I am opposed to the hospital being placed downtown and that message alone has been very well received. Until yesterday that is. I finally found somebody that favors it.

Unlike other candidates, I make it a point to visit houses with my opponents lawn sign on them if they can vote in the primary. (I'm seeing plenty of her signs on lawns that can't vote on primary day, by the way. Those I walk by.) After introducing myself, I ask the homeowner if they are for placing the new hospital downtown. Most are not and after I tell them my opponent favors it and has already voted to spend $26 million dollars to pay for the county's share of the ~ $44 million dollars it will take to build just the parking garage, their ears perk up and they listen intently. I leave them with my handout explaining my credentials and positions. I also tell them by voting to fund it, she has increased the county budget by almost a million dollars for the next 30 years. Do the math: $26 million divided by 30 years is $867 thousand a year for the principle only. Add in bonding costs and interest and voila! Your $394 million annual county budget is now $395 million! As a famous Senator once said, A million here, a million there, pretty soon you're talking real money.

But then I found out why he wants the hospital downtown. Yeppers, I was lucky enough to have him explain to me he has an interest in a certain nearby business that makes its living in the health care industry. For that business, I have to agree. Putting the hospital there would certainly be a boon to them financially. And I thanked him for being polite to me. He didn't slam the door in my face or be rude to me. He simply said the buildings there were "junk" buildings and I should look at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester as an example of what a downtown hospital can do.

So I did look at Strong Memorial. First, it is owned and operated by the University there; it is also a teaching hospital. Second, it has been there since 1926. Third, I see nothing online that tells me the area is booming because the hospital is there. (But I did find they participated in using human beings as guinea pigs in radioactive experiments without bothering to tell them in the 1940s. Nice touch.)

But for the rest of us living outside the city, it will not be financially good. Why should Oneida County taxpayers foot the bill for this folly? Why should Utica taxpayers pay twice in their taxbills for this?

And finally, why should such a large area of downtown be taken off the tax rolls displacing paying businesses when the St. Luke's campus already is off the tax rolls?

I'm hoping the people not in favor are going to come out and vote. Earlier, as I was going through another neighborhood I talked to a gentleman who agreed with me and promised me his vote on this issue alone.

And as my wife and I were walking back up the street on the other side, he leaned out his front door and yelled "My wife is voting for you too!"

I thanked him.

It is patently obvious: Darn few people outside the city do not want the new hospital placed downtown. So far, I've found one. And I've knocked on over 500 doors so far.

(Yawn) Constant reminder: Primary Day is just about a week away and if you live in District 16 (Bridgewater, Paris or the southern part of New Hartford) .. and are a registered Republican or Conservative, I respectfully ask for your vote on Tuesday, September 12.

Thank you.

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