Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Burn Center Debacle

Where were burn center advocates?
It has become increasingly frustrating to see and hear continued coverage of the pushing forward with a plan to create what would be the state's only burn unit, at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.To this day, no one has explained to us why Greenville isn't fighting to restart the Mississippi Firefighters Memorial Burn Center, which closed in 2005 after 33 years in operation.

It's like no one in Mississippi really fought to keep the Greenville burn center open when it had problems, and now that it is closed, it somehow should be reopened in Jackson. Sure we've heard the stories of how Jackson is a more central location, how there's better transportation in and out of Jackson and how it's easier to attract doctors to Jackson.Those are all cop outs and Greenville should be ashamed for not doing more to help bring back the burn center.Last we checked, there are four-lane highways going in and out of Greenville, and getting to Greenville from other places in the state isn't like it was 33 years ago. It's amazingly easy to travel through Mississippi today compared to just 10 years ago, whether someone is traveling to Tupelo, Meridian, Natchez, Greenville or the Coast.Plus, many burn victims are transported by helicopter, which has nothing to do with interstate highways.As for it being easier to lure doctors to Jackson, then we need to do a better job of luring doctors and giving people like that a reason to come and stay in Greenville.

If education is the key, then Jackson isn't the right place. Last time we checked, people of means living in Jackson are still sending their children to private schools.The worst part for us is there wasn't enough money to help fund a burn center in Greenville and now suddenly, the House approved a bill Tuesday would give UMC $10 million to finish a floor of the critical care unit to be used for burn treatment. The bill also would give UMC money each year to run the center, which likely would treat large numbers of uninsured patients. The proposal still must clear both chambers of the Legislature and signed into law by the governor.That kind of money and commitment, however, would have saved the burn center in Greenville.Instead, we have another case of the Mississippi Delta getting the shaft from those outside the Delta, like Rep. Steve Holland, who could care less about our little part of Mississippi.

And let's not forget the financial and hard-working efforts of the Mississippi firefighters some 35 years ago that helped bring a burn center to Greenville in the first place. Somewhere lost in all of this is waste they must feel for everything they have done through the years only to have it thrown down the toilet.For those who haven't and won't fight to bring back the burn center, please stop complaining about what needs to be done to improve the quality of life in Greenville and the Mississippi Delta, because it's those people who are part of the problem and not the solution.

Here's the truth about the Burn Center...

The burn center is just another of the many victims of Ray Humphrey's fiscal irresponsibility. He purchased a hospital (King's Daughters) out of a personal vendetta against a for-profit healthcare system with which he could not compete. In the wake of his apparent folly, our burn center became the sacrificial lamb which he could no longer staff with physicians or nurses.

Rob Love, III, read the writing on the wall and fled Greenville. To save face, Ray needed a offset to his irresponsible spending... the likely candidate, the burn center.

He could now blame the rest of the state for not supporting it (not true), and Ray remains in power! No one was notified in advance, including the politicians and supporters of this long standing "gift" to Greenville.

...Just one more jewel in Ray's Crown... and the band plays on!


Thursday, January 18, 2007

DRMC Ousts Azomani

Colleague supports fellow physician...

Dr. Hosan Azomani is one of the finest Pediatricians that Greenville has ever known. Tonight's news that he has been denied privileges at DRMC is just more evidence of the corrupt politics by Ray Humphreys and his current administration.

As a fellow physician, I know the circumstances leading to this event. It has nothing to do with quality patient care or concern for the countless patients who depend upon this dedicated physician's skills.

It is purely a political act of retaliation and exposes the pettiness of DRMC's administration as well as their total disregard for health care in our community.

Greenville and the Delta should be outraged! Why do we continue to allow this self-serving group of administrators to run off qualified physicians? Ray Humphreys needs to go... not our dedicated physicians!


Consolidate and Save?

Another writer poses this question...

Hmmmm....with all the consolidation moves going on (Arts Council + Bass Foundation, Industrial Foundation + Chamber of Commerce, etc.), I would think that someone might think to merge the WCCVB and Main Street programs. Why DO we have all of these paid positions? Are they paid through grant monies? Could their efforts be better spent working on a concerted effort? HELL-O??? Or are we presently throwing money at an issue that has not yet been defined?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The "Tourism" Tax?

Anonymous writer offers:

As you may or may not know: Washington County collects an additional 1 percent tax on all hotel rooms rented, all restaurant meals and Nightclub revenues. This tax is called a Tourism tax. The money is used to fund the Washington County Convention and Tourism Center and employees.

But the way I see it is: I have yet to see a tourist much less a convention that has been attracted by the million or so dollars collected. This money should be directed towards economic development NOW.

I would like to know how much money is collected and just where the money is going? The CVB has a glossy web site but that's about it. They also have a new HQ which would have made a better community center with indoor basketball courts and all.

I say, Take this money and direct it toward attracting business and jobs. Tourism might come when we have something to offer.

Ahhh yes, the tourism tax... just another by-product of our beautiful casinos where we tax the poor to pay the rich! I, too, would like to know where these tax dollars are spent. How much do we pay to maintain the "Welcome Center" which appears to be more of a trucker's rest stop than an information center.

I walked in there one day to see how we welcome visitors. There were two employees there: one was giggling on a cell phone and the other was eating. Neither one ever spoke a word to me as I perused the various literature and brochures.... so much for southern hospitality!

The last time I encountered a "tourist" in Greenville was at the Conoco by the mall. A couple from Ohio was on a tour of the historic south and asked if I could tell them how to get to Vicksburg. Thank God for gas stations!


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Real Estate Blues!

Happy 2007!

Okay, holidays are over and time to get back to the Scoop. Several hot issues seem to have been carried over into the new year, including the new federal building, the start of a new casino, the fate of downtown Washington Avenue and DRMC's continuing efforts to survive. (Come on Deltans... speak up and let's get a discussion going!)

Like most, I spent the holidays both visiting and hosting friends and relatives. Many were ex-Deltans who had fled the area long ago to seek greener pastures. Many had not been to Greenville since the late '70s and were anxious to see what had become of our fair city. As we toured the downtown area, I tried to explain our city's numerous plans to revitalize and save the once thriving area. Most accepted my explanation in doubious silence, until one member of the tour asked, "What is there to save among these ruins?" "Why can't Greenville just accept the reality that this area is dead and move forward?"

Well, there is some merit to these questions. If we can not develop the downtown area, why not turn our civic efforts toward trying to attract or keep taxpaying residents? Let's face reality. Greenville is never going to attract "tourists" and their dollars for the simple reason that there is nothing for tourists to do or see here. Forget about tourists! The most pressing problem facing Greenville is its shrinking population and tax base.

People are leaving Greenville in droves for five basic reasons:
  1. No Jobs
  2. Poor quality public education
  3. Poor quality health care
  4. Crime & Drugs
  5. Rapidly declining real estate values!

    The first 4 reasons have been around for 30 years have been discussed in numerous forums at length; however, number 5 is a more recent phenomena that foretells a very bleak future for Greenville. A home is said to be one of the largest investments a person makes in his/her life. Most assume that over time, the home's value will appreciate or at least remain stable over the course of ownership. Not so in Greenville. Residents are currently fleeing neighborhoods once considered "prestigious" in order to reduce the financial loss they will incur from selling their home.

    A neighbor of mine purchased his home just 8 years ago and paid $320,000. He made significant improvement throughout the years which increased his total investment by $85,000, assuming that they would "pay off" if, and when he sold. Over a year ago, his company transferred him and the house went on the market. It appraised for $362,000 which was well below what he had invested, but he was at least confident that he would get back his original investment.

    Fast forward 19 months later. After listing the house with 3 different Realtors and getting a total of 4 offers, my neighbor could no longer afford two mortgages and sold the home for the highest bid of $225,000... a net loss of $180,000 from what he had invested. Exception to the rule? Not in Greenville. I know people who are selling their homes and moving into apartments, just to mitigate the spiraling loss they will take as property values decline.

    One of the most telling predictors of an area's economic future is its real estate values. I have friends across the country who have purchased modest homes in mid-sized communities and have tripled or even quadrupled their investment when sold.
So, as a long time resident and home owner in Greenville, I am having a bit of trouble "Believing in Greenville", when my investment of both time and money into this community seem to be reaping a "negative" benefit.
Do I still love Greenville for what it was and what it could have become... Yes! Is my home of 20 years for sale at well below appraised value? Yes it is.