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Mayor’s threat to oppose Memorial lease

Mon, Jun 11, 2012

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Let’s hope reports are false that Mayor Steve Bach will oppose leasing Memorial Health System unless he can appoint the board that will disperse lease proceeds.

If not, I hope that the mayor will reconsider his position.

It’s pretty clear that opposing the proposed lease (actually, it’s a de facto sale, but let’s not quibble over lawyerspeak) could put Memorial back into play, with potentially disastrous results.

 

 

John Hazlehurst

The Colorado Hospital Transfer Act, which governs the use of proceeds from the sale or lease of a non-profit healthcare facility, specifies that a foundation dedicated to healthcare be created to administer the money. It’s silent about what kind of foundation, and it doesn’t narrowly define healthcare either.

 

The mayor wants the foundation to be controlled by elected officials. That’s a really bad idea, regardless of who has the final authority.

 

Politicians live in the moment. What happens during their term in office is more important than an unpredictable and unknowable future.

 

Health? What about money for streetlights, for public safety, for parks, for new fire stations? The foundation could easily become a useful adjunct to city budgets, there to be tapped for projects large and small. In a decade or two, it’ll fade away.

 

Let’s contrast public asset management with that of the private sector.

 

Since it was built in 1922, the city auditorium has been owned and managed by the city of Colorado Springs. The once magnificent building still stands, but not because successive generations of pols cared for it. It has received only the most cursory maintenance for the last 90 years, and is still standing simply because it was magnificently built to begin with.

 

Similarly, the original El Paso County Courthouse (now the Pioneers Museum)was nearly torn down by a notably benighted group of County Commissioners back in the early 70s. The city maintains it, but without volunteer labor and generous donations from private sources, it might be threatened once again.

 

And let’s not even mention the mean old City Committee and that mean old Steve Bartolin, who have credibly contended that the city has misallocated its limited resources for many years.

 

Consider instead the El Pomar Foundation, created in 1937 with a multi-million dollar gift from Spencer Penrose. In the 74 years since, El Pomar has multiplied its assets many times over, while giving away hundreds of millions of dollars.

 

The new foundation should model itself on El Pomar, with an independent, self-perpetuating board free of political influence. If so structured, it might be around 74 years from today, and still contributing to our community in accordance with its charter.

 

Ask yourself, if you had $75 million or so to create a foundation, would you want the mayor and/or City Council to control it? Or would you rather have cold-eyed, tough-minded do-gooders like Bill Hybl, Judy Bell, and Susan Edmondson doling out the dough?

 

 

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