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Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Three Hundred Million Dollar Question

Here is Ron Marshall of the New Grady Coalition once gain for another cross post.

The 300 Million Dollar Question

By Ron Marshall


Stop the presses, the media and counties have spoken. The deal has been made and all of the players have yet to be identified. But there are some names floating around that have my hair standing up on edge.

The media has printed this statement so often that people have taken it as gospel, even though the AJC and other media have never once printed any evidence that this $300M claim has any foundation at all.

Now, new information has emerged. The AJC and other media have lied. The media had no evidence that anyone was going to give $300M, because no one ever had promised to give such an enormous amount of money. I have always known you can tell me what to believe but not what to think!

Finally, a writer, from The Atlanta Progressive News (February 24, 2008) has published the truth: the business captains never intended to give more than $50M in any given year, period.
We must go back and remember the call to “save Grady by November or the hospital will close”. it is now February and no money has drop from the sky and the hospital is still operating so was this the old George Bush scare tactic? We must find the weapons or they will attack, well they have attacked and the take over has been completed, we have yet to count the wounded. It was also blessed by both counties and the media.

$50 million is a lot of money, of course. But it isn't enough to save the hospital which is $200M in debt. So what gives? This is what we have been told without seeing any books or records to support this claim. Why has the media not told us the truth? Why is the public being told that a masked man will give $300M if we only give him the hospital first?

Grady is an asset to the public of more than One Billion dollars. We are transferring all power of the largest public asset in the state to private control for a much smaller amount of money that has been promised.

The other thing is the deal allows this multi billion dollar facility to be rented for $2.5M a year, this is well below market rate. Every commercial building in the downtown metro area is going for $15-$25 a square foot. But a hospital fully staffed and operating will bring $150-$250 a square foot. That means that Grady is being rented for far less than market value at about two dollars a square foot. So instead of giving the market rate funding to the indigent they again get left overs, the scraps from the table of the business lords.

This is not the way to do business. I don't think we should let any donor tell us we must pass laws or decide rates they will pay. That is not the democratic way. If our police department ran short of money, would we privatize just to get a donation? Would we privatize our fire department and city hall? No, when we have basic public services, we the public must pay for them.

We invaded Iraq without examining the evidence that there were weapons of mass destruction. The experts told us "trust us, we know they are there". This has been the problem with back room government by the good ole boys.
Open government is what makes democracy great. We need to see the evidence, we need to see the contracts, we must be told who is behind a deal and why.

There is nothing wrong with business men trying to make money. However, it is horribly wrong for the media to conceal the truth to help corporations pull a bait and switch on the public.

No one would give away a Billion dollar hospital, which sits on choice downtown property, to an unnamed group for $50 Million dollars…unless?

Let me go a little further, even under the best circumstances, it appears the so-called business captains have prepared to raise $50 Million a year for three years. The rumor is that this money may be coming from the Woodruff foundation (Emory). The best information is that the Chamber of Commerce's Grady Task force is made up primarily of Crawford Long and Emory-affiliated members. Crawford Long is in direct competition with Grady. So what do you think is going to happen next?

But we should not be dealing in rumors-only facts.
This is the biggest deal in recent Georgia history, and the public deserves to know all the facts. Why has the media not published what it knows? Why does it not publish its sources? How can it repeat the $300 million dollar lie every day?

The terms of the Bailout must be known in advance.

Grady is important, but the truth is even more important. Our leaders told us to just "trust us" in national calamity after calamity. Now, the people need to know all the specifics. A contract must be drawn up. If we are passing laws to get a private bailout, the terms of the bailout need to be known in advance.

A large number of medical students and officials say that the private bailout is the only way. How does anyone know what the bailout is until the terms are published? This could be like throwing a drowning man a pail of water instead of a lifeline.

Will the bailout help Grady or sink it? We know the Grady task force is made up of Grady competitors. We don't mind business men making a buck- but they need to show us the deal first, or the public must say no to the deal.

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