Last night’s City Council meeting began with an utterly bizarre anecdote by Tim Ben Boydston. It involved Simon Wiesenthal, Nazi death camps, and lending a Jewish holy book for payments of food. The story suggested that one should focus on the many people in this world that do good over the few people that do evil—I think.
Some two hours later, the Council finally opened the floodgates and let a torrent of public comments on the hospital master plan flow. Those in favor of the plan went first. Roger Seaver shocked the crowd by suggesting that his hospital’s expansion project was a good idea, and he was backed up by a couple of residents who anticipated a need for more expansive hospital services. It seems that offering free meals to any hospital employee willing to speak at the council meeting—an allegation of the hospital made by at least two speakers against the plan—had proved unsuccessful.
Fittingly, it was David Gauny, chairperson for Smart Growth SCV who began the comments in opposition of the hospital’s revised master plan. He came off as articulate, informed and—dare I say it?—righteous in his three-minute oration. He stated very clearly that he and those in his group needed to be assured that the project would expand the hospital and not just build medical office buildings. He added that this was the portion of the project Seaver had been reluctant to fully commit to. Furthermore, he noted that key elements of the plan, like a development agreement, were unacceptably missing.
Before he had returned to his seat, Mayor McLean let out an exasperated moan-sigh and challenged Gauny directly, asking him for exactly what he wanted (how many buildings, etc…). Gauny again cited flaws in the plan at the most fundamental level that prevented him from being able to make such specific requests. Ferry got his turn to be exasperated next, but he would save his largest outburst for later.
The remainder of the twenty-five opposing comments focused on the sentiment that it would be unfair for residents to lose trees and endure more than a decade of construction all so G&L Realty could profit. Carole Lutness summed it up best: “What I want is a hospital, not a way for G&L to make a lot of money.” Former Mayor Carl Boyer put things a bit more directly when he called the proposal “rotten on a number of counts.” Of course, even he was outdone by a soft-spoken, accented Ms./Mrs. Pinkerton (I missed her first name) who called those associated with the plan “a diabolical lot.”
When the City Council finally got to weigh in (after 11pm), Frank Ferry’s comments stood out just a smidgen. At first, he seemed to be making a startling amount of good sense, noting how medical office buildings now provide services once exclusive to hospitals. He said that allowing non-hospital medical buildings would be a positive thing for the valley (unfortunately ignoring the fact that this could be done within existing zoning laws). Summoning up passion impressive for the late hour he said “When I get a stroke […] I want to be fixed freakin’ now so I’m not six-feet under.” By this point he was standing up, shouting about being selfish when it came to medical care, and gesticulating with gusto. McLean interjected “Excuse me, excuse me, hey!” to no avail. Ferry could not be stopped and was now accusing David Gauny of keeping “secrets” about what he and Smart Growth SCV wanted from the Council. After an intense minute or two, Mayor McLean began again “Excuse me, Frank” but was answered by Ferry with “This is my turn! I get to have my turn!” Comments/questions by Weste and McLean were decidedly tamer.
The whole issue wrapped up by not being wrapped up. The Council weighed in on the prospect of G&L charging to park on the campus (most were against), the need to recirculate/deal with the EIR (Environmental Impact Report), getting hospital drawings to be more satisfactory, and other issues that my sleep-deprived mind can’t quite summon at the moment.
To close, I have some news for the Community Holiday Tree. Tree?