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:
HCA is offering Jefferson Parish more money for the lease, $538 million compared to Children’s $406 million, and HCA would pay a estimated $183 million in property taxes where Children’s would pay no taxes.
Crony capitalism is another story lest we forget disgraced former Jefferson Parish Attorney turned self admitted felon Tom Wilkinson’s sister Nancy Cassagne got the top management job at West Jeff despite not possessing the qualifications for the low-mid 6 figure position. It should come as no surprise that Cahill would cite Children’s Hospital susceptibility to political persuasion as the reason he favors Children’s over HCA despite the fact HCA is offering the taxpayers a better deal financially.
The deal Elton LaGasse cut to support Children’s over HCA is what needs examination here folks. Follow the money to the insiders enriching themselves at the expense of the public and the answer becomes clear. Stay tuned.
Joe Spraggins was the early inside choice to run against Brent Warr for Gulfport Mayor before Warr landed in trouble with the US Attorney’s Office. He surfaced after Katrina in the Harrison County EOC and did a good job running things early on after the storm hit. Somewhere in the last 8 years Spraggins associated with a home builder in Diamondhead that is no longer with us. Today he is Jamie Miller’s right hand man tasked with whipping the remaining DMR employees back into shape.
Whew folks that is a mouthful! I am pleased to announce Slabbed will remain on the Jefferson Parish beat as there is never a dull moment in the “aorta of corruption”! First up is Parish Prez John Young.
After studying this millage renewal thing for a few weeks I now draw 2 conclusions:
There is a critical mass of people that will not vote for any new taxes for the local politicians and their cronies to squander and loot. (See below)
Last week’s emergency council meeting on the failure of the Jefferson Parish water and sewer millage renewals, disgraceful as it was with all the itinerant grandstanding, is mostly John Young’s fault.
Say what? Is Slabbed blaming John Young for the defeat of the renewals? No. His fault is a lack of leadership. Clancy DuBos explains for Gambit:
Instead of admitting he dropped the ball, which is what a real leader would do, Young repeatedly tried to deflect blame onto others, including the parish’s bond counsel. He also claimed that his administration mounted a bona fide effort to educate voters about the millage. That was simply untrue. All in all, Young’s performance during and after the “campaign” was a classic, and classless, display of political cowardice.
Drop the ball or not Young threw his own people under the bus last week. Bad form, very bad form indeed. Speaking of bad form even John Young and Clancy DuBos would be forced to admit I called this whole Richard Hart disaster from wayyyyyy far back. Let’s review with this snippet from my first post on the topic:
Next up is deputy chief operating officer Richard Hart. Hart, John Young’s #3 man in the Parish pecking order came to the Parish from his gig as executive director of the state Department of Agriculture and Forestry and is credited for helping pick and poach Chris Cox from the US Attorney’s office for the #2 spot in Team Young. I mention Hart because some of the birdies are telling me he is the new administrator that most reminds them of Tim Whitmer in terms of being a ruthless snake in the grass. The birdies tell me that Hart has a checkered background that makes him a most worthy candidate for further exploration here on Slabbed so I’ll float the balloon and see if our readers can fill in some blanks.
Citizens for Good Government is extremely disturbed about the secretive way in which our Jefferson Parish Council has asked our Louisiana legislative delegation to change the STATE LAW that requires a vote of the people in order for our public hospitals to be sold or leased.
It is alarming that the council passed a resolution at the last council meeting without even letting citizens know what they were attempting to do. The resolution, which was passed without discussion, resolved that “The Jefferson Parish Louisiana State legislative delegation and the entire legislature of the State of Louisiana amend, modify and/or revise La. R.S. 46:1064.2.” This resolution did not elaborate on the purpose of this revised statute, nor did it indicate exactly how the council wanted our legislature to change it.
However, R.S. 46:1064.2(C), which applies only to Jefferson Parish, is very explicit, and it states:
“The hospital service district shall sell or lease the hospital ONLY if the proposed sale or lease is approved by a majority of the qualified electors of the hospital service district voting on the proposition at an election held for that purpose and conducted in accordance with the Louisiana Election Code.”
It is at this point that I feel compelled to take the Jefferson Parish legislative delegation for a trip down memory lane to the last time the Parish council wanted a law changed that attracted the attention of good government activists across the parish. What makes the similarity in my mind between the stripping of a civil right from the populace in removing the provision for a public vote on the sale/lease/management of the two public hospitals and the “tweaking” of the public records statute on the behalf of TheRiot is both involved major losses of public transparency. Of course it was the behind the scenes deal making that brought the taxpayers both the Performing Arts Center and River Birch Landfill debacles so you’d think the gang on the 10th floor of Yenni along with the Parish Council would have at least had the sense to consider all the ramifications here. Instead I sense the politics of self enrichment are at play, likely with a heavy dose of crony capitalism on top.
In the Spring of 2010 TheRiot asked Louisiana State Senator Danny Martiny to change the Louisiana Public Records law drawing the ire of good government activists in Jefferson Parish. Slabbed made an editorial decision to become involved and I subsequently welcomed Senator Martiny to the legendary Warren Suite at the Do Slabb Inn. Within a few days Martiny appeared on Fox 8 cryin’ that people thought he was some kind of crook. The Parish Council ran for the hills pulling the rug out from under Martiny and this in turned caused me to opine Senator Martiny was a stooge. Now Slabbed has since gone easy on Senator Martiny as he really is not the devil reincarnate as he was the guy that pushed the Louisiana version of the SPEECH Act through the legislature so we obviously share some common ground.
The Parish council met last week in secret with hospital officials and others. Out of that meeting came the request to change LA R.S. 46:1064.2 which would exempt the hospital from the public vote provisions in that law.
Both hospital boards are stacked with political insiders and are notorious troughs where crony capitalism, double dealing and self enrichment are the rule of the day.
The request to change the law was done with “no public discussion, and no dissenting vote on the council.”
Potential public opposition was cited by Sheriff Noodles Norman as the reason for stripping this civil liberty from the taxpaying public. Sheriff Noodles, when he is not palling around with washed up actors like Steven Seagal or arresting criminals is the Chairman of the East Jefferson Medical Center Board of Directors.
Chris Robert$, Cynthia Lee $heng, Elton LaGa$$e are all responsible for the River Birch debacle and their judgment is not to be tru$ted.