On Sunday, the Indianapolis Star played the roll of shill, publishing a lengthy piece on why a new Wishard Hospital is needed. This was in advance of a Sunday, 2 p.m. press conference when officials were to discuss the project.
A press conference on Sunday at 2 p.m.? Knowing a little about the media, the only reason you hold a press conference on a Sunday afternoon is that you want it to be lightly attended and given little coverage. People aren't going to come downtown for a Sunday afternoon press conference like they would during the week. Many of the TV stations don't even have Sunday evening broadcasts. The Sunday paper has already been published. You have second stringers in the TV newsrooms and at the newspapers.
Don't think this is an accident. The advocates of this proposal are trying to get the information out to the pro-Wishard crowd, without stirring up taxpayer angst.
Being more interested in the politics of the proposed special election referendum, I noted with amusement the comments by Butler University professor George Geib, who remarked "the real problem for the Wishard people will be promoting turnout."
Um, did Reporter Daniel Lee not notice that George Geib is a history professor and not a political science professor? Geib would get an "F" for political analysis in my University of Indianapolis political science class. The last thing the Wishard people want to do is promote turnout. They want a small turnout which is exactly why the Wishard lobbyists wanted this as referendum decided in an off-year, special election. As the article notes, there are 4,200 employees of Wishard along with 1,100 physicians who practice at the hospital. Add in their friends and family and you have exactly the electorate the Wishard people want to go to the polls. Everyone else, they want to stay home. Think about it. If they really wanted a higher turnout, why wouldn't the Wishard lobbyists have asked for the referendum to be held at a regular election, like the one taking place in November of 2010?
I paused when I read about the Sunday news conference, too.
I haven't formulated a personal opinion on the new hospital request yet. But, I do have two observations -- If they are so interested in saving taxpayer's money, why do they have $55M in extra funds? and, why would their board request the special election in 2009 and not wait until next year to make the formal request for a referendum? (which it appears they could do under the building project referendum laws in place for all other taxing units) They could also offer to pay for the costs of the special election.
I'm with you -- they want low voter turnout pure and simple.
The special election is the most disturbing. That's a calculated political move, make no mistake about it. Plus, estimates are it will cost taxpayers $1.2 million.
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