Thursday, June 29, 2017

Don't Be Misled!

It has been a burning contention of  some "Downtown Hospital" proponents that the proposed new hospital MUST be in Utica or even in Downtown Utica or the area would lose the $300M grant from the State.

Don't be misled!

Here is the relevant portion of the actual legislation with the operative words put in red-bold:


Don't be confused by the words "located in the largest population center in Oneida County."  Apply a little common sense  (and maybe a common rule of statutory construction).

"Expressio unius est exclusio alterius" or "expression of one thing is the exclusion of another." Every word of a law is presumed to have been used for a purpose and every word excluded from a law is presumed to have been excluded for a purpose.

The legislature was geographically specific when it referred to "Oneida County," so if it wanted to limit sites to "Downtown Utica" or the "City of Utica," it would have said so. Since it did not, the legislature clearly intended to NOT limit sites to Downtown Utica or Utica. The legislature did, however, intend to limit sites to "the largest population center in Oneida County" as opposed to all other population centers.

Imagine that you have a large map of Oneida County and a bunch of push-pins.  You stick a pin in the map where each person in the county lives (about 230,000 pins!).  You would notice several groupings of pins -- population centers -- and that the largest grouping would be over southeastern Oneida County.  THAT GROUPING represents the "largest population center of the county."   With about 60,000 pins in Utica; 20,000 in New Hartford; 20,000 in Whitestown; 10,000 each in Marcy and Deerfield; and none to the east of Utica (because that would be off the map), if you were to pick out the middle of that grouping it would probably fall somewhere just west of Utica . . . perhaps near the St. Luke's Hospital Campus!

If anyone wants to actually do this map exercise to determine the middle of the largest population center, be my guest and send me a picture of it!  The simple point I want to make is that the location specified in the law includes the St. Luke's Campus and that the Campus is convenient to everyone in the area. 

So, if a public or hospital official or anyone else tries to tell you that the grant will be lost if the hospital is not located in Downtown Utica, you now know better.  They are either deliberately trying to mislead you to achieve purposes outside the scope of the legislation or they themselves have been mislead.   The purpose is neither "economic development," nor "blight removal," nor "Downtown revival," nor "infrastructure repair," nor any other "purpose" that could be remotely claimed to justify tapping into the tempting big pot of money, but, rather, "strengthening and protecting continued access to health care services in communities."  

One group that appears NOT to have been misled is the MVHS Board.  They had the presence of mind to designate the St. Luke's Campus as their "backup" should the Downtown site prove infeasible -- an acknowledgment, as the applicant for the funds, that the St. Luke's Campus both qualifies under the law and meets their needs.

Once the true costs of the Downtown site become known (site acquisition; condemnation/legal proceedings; historical/environmental/archeological studies; asbestos removal and other remediation; water/sewer line replacement; designing and constructing a facility within the architectural/historical context of Utica; etc.) and are compared with the practically shovel-ready St. Luke's site, it should be concluded that choosing the St. Luke's site would produce more healthcare "bang for the buck" and best promote the purposes of the state's legislation.

MVHS is urged to obtain an estimate of the true costs of the Downtown site ASAP before proceeding further, and to obtain it from a contractor having no connection with EDGE, the project, or anyone else from the region who may have something to gain from placing the project downtown.   


Anonymous said...

No offense meant but all the words are irrelevant if the legislative representatives, in this case, Griffo and Brindisi support the downtown site. With Picente, the EDGE and those two in support, only major and quick public outcry can alter the situation. That assumes private funding is in place. If it is not, the situation is different to say the least. The public has the right to know where the project stands financially right now. If there is going to be a need for raiding the taxpayer pocket for more funds, that may be the Achilles heal. No amount of less than clear planning type presentations are relevant.We are way past that point. It is all about money and those who lead the opposition should have come to grips with that a long time ago.

Strikeslip said...

Excellent clear-eyed comment, Anonymous. I disagree only with your assessment that the words are irrelevant if Griffo and Brindisi support the Downtown site. They do not speak for the legislature. The legislature has spoken with the words it used, only those words, and the plain meaning above. If Messrs. Griffo and Brindisi are pushing a downtown site, then they are misconstruing the legislation and denying the public the full benefit of the state's gift. Once all the costs are known, like egg they will be wearing those words. My understanding, however, based on a written communication I've seen is that Mr. Griffo has not pushed specifically for Downtown, but he somehow believes the legislation means Utica (i.e., he is not "pushing" it and may have been misled himself).

The "Downtown Hospital" idea is the latest manifestation of the partnership between government power (Oneida County) and private interests (MV EDGE). Until that partnership is broken up, local taxpayers are at risk.

Anonymous said...

I hope you are correct, Strike. But, I doubt the legislature will move without the blessing of the home reps. Perhaps Griffo is a weak link? If so, a direct appeal to him to endorse the concept of a new site search can be made. Or, the wording requested publicly could ask him to oppose the downtown site. Force his hand, in other words. EDGE stands to make a good deal of money from the deal in staff support, fees, etc.. Since they can't seem to recruit any new industry in, the must make their way with what boils down to government projects.

Strikeslip said...

Anonymous 320, the Legislature's job is done at this point. Now it is in the hands of government bureaucrats who have been given a set of criteria to go by in deciding whether or not to approve of this project. Those criteria are listed in the legislation (go to the legislation link above, click on the View More button, then search on Oneida County to arrive at the relevant section, then scroll down to read the criteria). When you read the criteria you will see that "economic development" is not even mentioned and everything is related to health care. What IS mentioned as a criteria for determining awards is "THE EXTENT TO WHICH THE APPLICANT HAS ENGAGED THE COMMUNITY AFFECTED BY THE PROPOSED CAPITAL PROJECT..." Here there has been NO engagement on the most important aspect of all: the choice of project location. You do not pick a site with 40 going businesses and not expect at least some of them to fight back. And when the public finally realizes that they will be on the hook for all sorts of related costs, all hell will break loose. DOH won't want to smear their reputation by trying to shove this down the public's throat. And then the politicians will back off.

Anonymous said...

When have bureaucrats not approved legislative spending allocations? If there is complete political support for the project it will go forward if the private financing is in place. To date, there has been no public outcry. Of course some businesses will fight the process but eminent domain will win the day even if the cost is great. The point is, in for a dime, in for a dollar. Once the project starts, it will be impossible to halt.

Strikeslip said...

You are right Anonymous 752. To date there has been little public outcry to speak of. If there is none during whatever administrative process is ahead, the project will go through, and the community will have to live with the results.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the recent flooding which demonstrated the city's antiquated infrastructure as well as the potential congested nature of the downtown site will allow a fresh look even by the developers. I wonder if they would even be able to obtain insurance?