I’ve sat back and watched the spectacular disaster that is the Jefferson Parish hospital privatization effort unfold as told by the beat gang at both the NOLA.com and the Advocate and I certainly came away wanting more information and even more important perspective. Call me a harsh critic folks but I’m not feeling it from the beat as it appears on this issue the newspapers have become mere mouthpieces for the politicians.
The history of the process and the attempts of Chris Roberts, Elton LaGasse and Ricky Templet to derail it are too numerous to mention in the limited time I have this morning. There the newspapers have done a decent job following the gyrations albeit sans any useful analysis but there are a couple of examples of reporting where I read the news and came away thinking, “Myers sure had someone blowing mega smoke up his ass” or “Quinlan is giving Roberts another redo”. I know they are better than the slop being served but it is what it is. First up from the smoke up Ben’s ass files I have this from January:
In this piece the Parish council is thoroughly infantilized by Myers, who pinned the blame that day for the disaster on the Hospital Boards and the consultant hired by the Parish. The fix for Children’s Hospital had been in for way longer than last September. In fact astute political observers who speak to Slabbed on the condition of anonymity indicate Children’s was already in the mix when the Parish council prevailed on the Jefferson Parish legislative delegation to repeal the voter approval requirement for selling the hospitals. Remember folks, this is the same bunch that went on a “fishin’ expedition” for woody waste disposal that ended up giving Riverbirch a monopoly, at the expense of the taxpayers, of the Parish’s landfill business.
And then yesterday Adriane Quinlan checked in with two stories involving Chris Roberts wanting a study on health care clinics. He was evidently afraid someone might take a capitalist type of business risk, open a clinic and then go belly up according to Quinlan’s first story on the dust up between Roberts and the business community. You can almost hear Quinlan’s phone ringing with Roberts on the other end giving her a hard time for accurately portraying the man as a business buffoon so up comes another story with Robert’s voicing concern there is too much competition while decrying ‘the fact’ that “Indigents are being left at the hospitals, and paying customers are being turned out,” Roberts said.” Of course what Robert’s is describing is not the fault of health clinics. People that bitch a blue streak about Obama care conveniently forget the current system has always put the cost of indigent health care on the paying public but Quinlan essentially gave Roberts an open microphone with no critical analysis.
Even worse Roberts has a personal financial stake in the game but never is heard the discouraging word at NOLA about Roberts and the shameful way he has conducted this process. I reckon it is easier to give him an open microphone. Even better maybe he’ll have one of his writers over at the Beacon start ghostwriting stories for the NOLA.com beat krewe.
So what did we find out from yesterday’s council meeting? The hospital process is a shambles with Chris Roberts leading the fools parade and we get this?
Is it any wonder the man’s record in business is terrible? I was reminded of the following when reading Quinlan’s story:
Maybe I’m being too hard on the JP Beat Krewe because someone inside NOLA.com kinda gets it:
Probably not though because Childrens would already be in were it not for Sheriff Noodles, who is absolutely wearing the white hat for the taxpayers here. The word I get from my most connected sources in Jefferson Parish is that many folks are “stunned” at how “brazen” Roberts, LaGasse and Templet have been pushing the financially inferior Children’s Hospital proposal over HCAs. Childrens has promised to let all the politically connected insiders continue bellied up to the trough which is the reason Roberts and company are pushing them. The financial interest of the Parish and its people, like in the Riverbirch deal, is no where in the equation with them. Sheriff Noodles is the fly in the ointment since he carries major political stroke as a Parish wide elected official that has approval ratings up into the 90% range. If I had to guess he is the reason Mark Spears is not playing along with Roberts and Templet.
I’ve always pinpointed the public being stripped of the right to vote on any hospital deal as the place where the people of the Parish were failed by their legislative delegation. That right to vote was an important check and balance to the stinker Roberts and pals would serve the public with the Children’s Hospital lease and it appears the legislative delegation finally understands they were played for fools last year:
Legislature may be asked to call vote on Jeff hospitals ~ Jeff Adelson
Meantime Roberts now claims he had no clue that executing a 30 year lease was tantamount to selling the hospitals so he may be down with giving the people their say so back. Maybe he was just trying to get out in front of Pat Connick and was willing to stick his foot in his mouth to do it.
In any event thats my two cents worth on the great Jefferson Parish Hospital disaster of 2014, self inflicted as it is. Being Jefferson Parish I imagine we have several more twists and turns to go before it is done.