September 14, 2006

A trial ballon?

A reader floats a theory on why the Botanical Gardens has been targeted for the new hospital:

I’ve been thinking a bit about the Botanical Gardens / BHB debacle and government’s insistence on destroying open land and have concluded that in the end they won’t do it and will instead redevelop the existing site. However, they deliberately floated this unsustainable trial balloon as a future escape clause for the inevitable miscalculation of costs (a la Berkeley) associated with what will undoubtedly be government’s most massive capital expenditure to date. In a roundabout way it will end up being a tacit admission of their inexperience and complete lack of financial planning (save of course when it comes to spending tax dollars on themselves).

I don’t disagree that a new hospital would be nice but our first investment should be in the doctors & nurses and all other primary care givers and related service providers rather than a fancy building which isn’t going to improve the patient experience as much as an informed, caring and excessively able staff will.

While I don't rule out - and hope for - an about face on this, everything I hear tells me that they're serious about building on parkland. But I don't entirely rule out what the reader suggests.

The grapevine holds that the Premier removed (she didn't resign) Neletha Butterfield from the Environment to Education in favour of Rubber Stamp Randy Horton after Ms. Butterfield rightly refused to sign off on the Botanical Gardens site.

I think the decision is largely driven by difficulty in figuring out how to finance the project after the corporate crowd reportedly gave Government the cold shoulder when they did the rounds with their hands out some months ago.

Mismanaging Berkeley was more than just a public relations problem (the rehabilitation of the Berkeley name has been in full swing with the school finally opening (click here, here and here); it had real repurcussions.

Our historically generous corporate donors aren't willing to throw their shareholders' money at fraud and mismanagement. And I don't blame them. The fallout will be a greater tax burden for you and me; higher taxes and/or borrowing it will be.

Posted by Christian S. Dunleavy