From a recent rant to the local purveyors of all things Progressive and (non) Profitable:
Long ago and in a galaxy far away, we had a local newspaper that, whatever its ownership, made at least tentative, mildly probing attempts to examine the process and the protocols involved in the Â expenditure of public funds.Â As we said, long, long ago………..
Â Â Â Â Â At least we know how much was spent – Nine million dollars.Â Nine million dollars. On renovatingÂ a forty-four thousand square foot building.Â Forty-four thousand square feet.Â For a health ‘clinic’.Â In a small town of only 60,000 people, 3,000 of which are employed at another health facility in town – a major regional hospital.
Â Â Â Â TheÂ (redacted) Clinic ‘qualifies’ as a federally-assisted non-profit, etc., etc., etc. and so it was able to obtain a “Department of Health andÂ Human Services grant” for six million of the nine million dollarÂ cost of theÂ project.Â Â Grant….. you know, free money!Â The money Kathleen Sebelius sends HHS workers out to harvest from the trees growing outside her office.Â (redacted) Clinic says its mission is to keep people from going to the emergency room.
Â Â Â Â And at least we know that those ‘clients’ ofÂ (redacted) are well thought of and are going to be made, not only ‘right to home’, but deeply cared about and part of the Progressive and SustainableÂ movement.Â For you see,Â (redacted), ofÂ (redacted) Designs, has compassionately included, for the clients, Â and indeed all humanity, an 8,500 square foot “green” roof over the facility.Â Eight thousand five hundred square feet of vegetation.Â On the roof.Â And going the extra mile, he has included in his ‘design’ scheme that up to 50% of the lighting in the facility will be the most expensive example of lighting ever known to man – LED lighting.Â This designer really, really cares about the uninsured and the underinsured.
Â Â Â Â Did we mention ‘geothermal heating and cooling’?Â Yep, the eco-friendliness and designer quality of this baby never stops.Â We don’t know the cost of the geothermal system forÂ (redacted), but the one they are putting in out atÂ the local state-supportedÂ universityÂ is seventy-seven million dollars and counting.Â (While just up the road, at another, larger, state-supported university, a clean-coal-powered plant was recently approved at a cost of only twenty eight million.Â But we digress).
Â Â Â Â We have no grudge againstÂ (redacted), orÂ (redacted), or anyone in the wholeÂ (redacted) clan.Â Our concern today is that , for starters, $6,000,000 of taxpayer money was allocated to an enterprise supposedly to serve low-income people and an interior design firm was hired as project manager.Â We are not told what the specifications wereÂ for the facility, or for the bidding, or whether the details of the project were approved by the granting agency, though we would hope that a blank check wasn’t written.Â But if just the features that we have mentioned today are taken into account, somebody thinks it is their prerogative to spare no expense when it comes to providing for the uninsured.Â We ourselves have health insurance, though we are pretty sure we are underinsured because we couldn’t afford, in a private project, such as installing miniblinds, flooring and cubicles, the services of a ‘designer’.Â
Â Â Â Â In the end, will we finally at long last, or will we never, find out whetherÂ (redacted) Designs was awarded the contract on the basis of a low bid?Â Or will we find out that the Designer-in-Chief, Â (redacted), Â secured security for his firm by taking it upon himself to articulate the specifications and rationale for the work with statements like this: ” (…the renovations and landscaping will provide patients with a) Â ‘sense of being taken care of by people who are concerned about them’.”Â Â Oh, yes indeed, all ye uninsured and underinsured, when you walk up to the door and look up and see all that vegetation on the roof, and walk inside and are surrounded by all of that $44-dollar-a-bulb LED lighting, and feel all that top-of-the-line geothermal heating and cooling, and lie down on that Gucci examination table, you just have to know that your health is job one!
Â Â Â Â Â Â Sickly,
Â Â Â Â Â Â Bob Montgomery
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â It was reported, excitedly and glowingly and approvingly, Â in the local rag a while back that in thisÂ community of only 60,000 souls there are over 1,000 NGO’s, non-profits and not-for-profits.Â They range, of course, from charities to service agencies to quasi-governmentals to those that, well, have some sort of tax-exempt purpose or another.Â The clinic described above no doubt helps people.Â Whatever rubricÂ HHS operated under when it granted the funds to this non-profit, whether it was ordinary budgeted protocol, stimulus-fueled, pork-inspired or whatever, probably generated a few temporary jobs for the community.Â The point of this piece is that no one, at any point along the way, at least that was noticeable, raised any questions.Â Â Indeed, and this is a huge part of the problem, the details of the lavishness of the project were never published in a a manner the public could appreciate and question until the project was well under way, in fact aÂ fait accomplii.Â Â Â And that is only one project, only one grant.Â It would be a major research project to tabulate, chart and graph the federal expenditures, grants and other
expropriatiÂ Â appropriations made in this small community since the practice was elevated to a fine art a couple of decades ago.
Â Â Â Â Â Now, this congressional district is not represented by a Democrat.Â It is Â represented by a person who until recently was chairman of the Republican Conference and formerly a chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a person almost universally loved in conservative circles and once voted as one of the hardest workingÂ men in congress.Â So how was it that this multi-million-dollar Hanging Gardens of Babylon, with the latest and most expensive technology known to man and designer-quality project inspiration, was proposed, “granted” and shepherded along to the giddy delight of the “concerned” element in town?Â We haven’t a clue.Â We haven’t a clue what people “study” and “confer” about, or what their “hard work” consists of,Â or for that matter what their staffs do all day either, except worry about the next election cycle.Â And mind you we are only using the congressman in question as a vehicle to provoke thought.Â He is actually a very fine man.Â
Â Â Â Â Â There are other angles to this story besides just the latest ‘waste du jour’.Â Not the least of whichÂ are the many opportunities an entity like the Department of HHS has to do its part to promote the deprivatization of healthcare, secure a dependent voter base and funnel the tax dollars of unsuspecting citizens into the coffers of the “concerned”Â grant-writers and grant-seekers among us.
Â Â Â Â As we close, we have this song running through our head.Â Pretty sure it’s byÂ Chicago, and again, from long, long agoÂ but perhaps still relevant…..think it goes something like ….”Does anybody really know what time it is?”