No More Pizza - Now What? A Retrospective Review of Where CNU Has Been, and Where They Are Going

Guest Commentary by DJ Blutarksy | 

Now that the Great Pizza Town Hall meetings have ended, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the CNU project and to suggest what may happen next. Granted, I have been somewhat detached from the project, largely because of my love for pizza--free pizza at that! But sometimes a 30,000-foot view is a better view when there is turbulence below.

The CNU traveling roadshow was initiated at the urging of the City Council, most of whom had previously, and very amateurishly, played their hands-on supporting the hospital before it was even a formal project submitted to the City. Council Meeting after meeting, Stonelake's residents beat down the Council members, particularly Darren Suen, their District 1 representative. In the words of Pat Hume, CNU was spending “political capital” and the City Council were bobbing and weaving major flack attacks, much like WWII B-17s on bombing runs over Germany!

In what I call the “full-court press”, the Pizza Town Hall meetings were hatched. CNU hired local PR guns like Mayor Emeritus Gary Davis and the Region Business lobby group to attempt to counter the Stonelake offensive. CNU used their architectural and land use consultants to discuss the project from a technical standpoint and avoid the Stonelake issues of business relocation and loss of property values. This attempt at distraction was much like the Harlem Globetrotters faking the ball--now you see it, now you don’t!

Now that the last slice of pizza has been consumed, I wonder where CNU now stands in terms of political capital. By starting their tour in the east part of the City, I think CNU was hoping to gather major supporters in the other parts of the city, and essentially isolate Stonelake's residents and label them as just another NIMBY group. But the lure of free pizza failed to attract the supporters and instead, a hungry bunch of opposition followed the Pizza Tour like groupies at a rock concert.

The CNU cast has hinted that the Draft EIR has already been submitted to the City for review and will be released in about a month. We are being told essentially that the EIR will be the end-all of ends, and all issues will be addressed in that document. You can be assured that the team of super attorneys will have gone through that document with a fine-toothed comb and its release will come with their stamp of “Lawsuit Proof” on it. Any challengers better have a big checkbook.

While other leading hospital providers in the region have expressed that the local regional market will not support the CNU project, it makes me wonder if the “market” as defined by CNU is much larger than the Sacramento region? From my view at 30,000 feet, maybe CNU sees the market as extending beyond California and overseas? At a cost of nearly $1 billion, I certainly would expect the prospective investors to assess the true market potential of this project. 

And speaking of investors. We now understand that the CNU team has already invested “tens of millions of dollars” in this project. This may be, but what I fear most is that CNU will leverage this to obtain local, regional, and state economic incentives. As a taxpayer, I would resent my tax dollars being used to fund a project that has a shady money trail and an unclear market it will serve. I will also be interested to see which health insurance plans will cover CNU.

I just can’t shake my memory from watching a YouTube video a few years back, in which Mayor Ly was in China essentially recruiting instructors and physicians to help out a new hospital in Elk Grove. Of course, as a non-profit organization, CNU will be exempt from paying property taxes. But, Region Business will get the construction jobs they seek, and the hospital will certainly create plenty of jobs. And those workers will certainly buy things, such as homes, food, and cars. This will bring in sales tax dollars to help feed the government coffers.

Yes, So there you have it. It’s all about jobs that will create temporary construction jobs, and new workers that will spend money and generate tax dollars--all from a facility that hospital experts say is not needed in the region. And oh that’s right, the EIR will clear everything up! 

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