Letters to the Editor 6/19/04

June 19, 2004

CATO isn't most dependable source of information on hospital

To: Thomas Firey

In answer to your recent criticism of my letter, I believe that it addressed providing health care at the most cost-effective location, as opposed to your view - that such costs should be ignored for the Washington County Hospital's convenience, even though its board chose a location plagued with problems.

Early on, the hospital and the site-selection committee eliminated the Robinwood site in favor of others they said would provide "improved quality of service and patient outcomes." To say now that the Robinwood site will "lower overall costs" is your opinion, not supported by fact.

I have not decided that the downtown site is the most cost-effective solution, but believe that the process of choosing a site should be done with the input of the public, since they'll ultimately pay the bills.


Your letter says that relocation to Robinwood will give patients more "immediate access" to these services and that "recent studies" show that the Certificate Of Need (CON) process increases costs, but you provide no facts to support such claims.

I have not submitted any proposal to the hospital's board that would allow for removal of the city government from this process. I did give them a memo, which I will share with you, addressing similar concerns that I have with the conditions for ending the city's opposition that the council put together. I haven't endorsed that list and have insisted from the start that the hospital should proceed through the county zoning process, since hospital officials have already spent millions on design work for a facility that wouldn't meet the current zoning. Are there any other developers who do such things?

As for the annexation issue, annexation is as much a public-participation process as the CON, including similar review of cost/benefit analysis, as well as long-term effect on the community. And much like the CON, those responsible to the public for making such decisions should not have them predetermined without being educated on the issue through the public process.

Is the Allegheny site preferable? I, like much of the public, depended on the experts involved to make that determination.

You may find that answer for yourself in reviewing the site-selection committee meeting minutes that I have provided you.

I did not dismiss the criticism of the eminent-domain issue, but rather put it in more accurate perspective of the reality of the properties involved rather than accept the "spin" that you placed on it, much like the propaganda and shock-value statement that I view renters as second-class citizens.

I do not use such methods to provide information to the public. I provide an honest account of myself in regard to these issues. I feel the public deserves an honest understanding of where your opinions come from, given that you are not a resident of Washington County, but rather an employee of and writer for the CATO Institute, which prescribes to the following:

According to the "critiques of Libertarianism" Web site, CATO is a "libertarian" quasi-academic think-tank which acts as a mouthpiece for the globalism, corporatism, and neoliberalism of its corporate and conservative funders. There is no significant participation by the tiny libertarian minority. They do not fund it or affect its goals. It is a creature of corporations and foundations.

The major purpose of the CATO Institute is to provide propaganda and soundbites for conservative and libertarian politicians and journalists that is conveniently free of reference to funders such as tobacco, fossil fuel, investment, media, medical and other regulated industries.

CATO is one of the most blatant examples of "simulated rationality," as described in Phil Agre's "The Crisis of Public Reason."

Arguments need only be plausibly rational to an uninformed listener. Only a tiny percentage will notice that they are being misled. That's all that's needed to manage public opinion. Dozens of huge corporations, eager to roll back government regulatory powers, are among CATO's largest donors.

Fortunately for the taxpayers of this community, I can't make decisions on what I may read in the local newspaper one day simply because I belong to a "think tank" in D.C. that is heavily funded by the special-interest groups we all know too well.

My only advice to the fair people of this community is to please educate yourselves beyond what you are provided by the local media on this issue, as it will be the largest expense that our children will have to afford.

Feel free to further educate yourselves on what the CATO Institute represents by visiting such internet sites as:

Kristin Aleshire is a Hagerstown City Council member.

Priorities were wrong

To the editor:

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