Much, if not all of the opposition to the ballpark centers around the notion that the taxpayers of the city were excluded from directly participating on the public discussion prior to the demolition of the old city hall building and the expenditures made to build the ballpark. In fact, there is pending legal action before the Third Court of Appeals that partially involves Susie Byrd precisely asking for the community to have access to various documents that discussed the process of the ballpark.
Although the Children’s Hospital is a private non-profit organization, the fact remains that it has used taxpayer funds to initiate its operations. It is also, now the recipient of a legal filing by a governmental entity that involves monies owed to the taxpayers of the community. As you know, UMC, a taxing entity, recently filed a public notice (UCC filing) that effectively places a lien on the assets of the Children’s Hospital. Therefore, there is no ambiguity that there are taxpayer funds at play in this debacle.
Because it involves the possibility of taxpayer funds the community has every right to not only participate in the discussion about the financial status of the hospital but also should be part of the process to resolve the situation. Yet, the taxpayers of the community have not only been excluded but are now not even privy to the behind-the-scenes ongoing discussions about the issue.
Veronica Escobar has already publicly promised that taxpayer funds will not be necessary to fix the problems while at the same time telling the community that it stands to lose significantly should the hospital fail.
At the same time, her close political ally, and friend, Susie Byrd has taken control of the Children’s Hospital public relations reigns. Once Byrd was in control, the first, and only thing she has done so far is redirect the public conversation refocusing on it on how important and how lucky the city is to have the Children’s Hospital.
She held a lengthy press conference controlling the public perception of where the issue stands today.
As soon as the dog-and-pony show was completed, the public discussion was effectively shut down behind a wall of judicial processes that conveniently ended any public discourse over the matter. In other words, the city’s taxpayers have been effectively excluded from participating in a process that involves their money.
Now ask yourself, why?
As you contemplate that question, consider that most, if not all, of the controversial public policy items that have ended up costing the taxpayers’ monies were conducted behind closed doors and in secrecy.
Therein lies the answer as to why the secrecy is needed by Veronica Escobar, Susie Byrd and cohorts.