Horse Sense: The Cloward-Piven Reverse Auction

Tonight we begin the wondrous journey in our reverse auction for the hospital.  What is a reverse auction?  Thought maybe it was the sole creation of a horse’s overactive imagination.  As it turns out, according to Wikipedia that’s not true. It’s real, it exists and like a Cloward-Piven strategy, it serves a higher purpose.  Namely maximize your “investment” while the ship is sinking and as in this case, you deploy a plan overwhelming the system.

Tonight, we begin the process of studying the big dance.  We have two clocks, one a fast timer set to go kaboom maybe as soon as December and another delayed into 2010 should the Governor come up with a stay of execution.  Which Governor?  That’s a good question too.  We thought if Gov. Corzine ever hoped to stay in the powerful limelight of government employment, he’d find a way to cough up about $6-7MM and depart to the minted Senate seat Sen. Lautenberg would abdicate on his behalf.  But pulling a Toricelli required Sen. President Richard Codey to assume the reigns of the Governor’s job on a temporary basis to complete the stunt.  As it turns out, the Hudson Reporter did a story, “The Lautenberg Problem” – suggesting there’s no desire on Codey’s part to go out into the sunset leaving a black cloud over his legacy.  

So is Gov. Corzine more or less inclined to clean up the mess in his own backyard now?  Can’t say but we do know that Governor-elect Christie made very frank remarks that change is coming in New Jersey, stating no one should expect to be lining up at the trough much longer and to expect not only pain, but “continued pain.”  Sadly, NJ is facing an $8 billion dollar deficit, and the truth is this state acted irresponsibly in the good times and is now one of the most ill prepared to face these uncertain ones.  How’d we get here? To sum it up, “What’s in it for me?”  That’s been New Jersey’s modus operandi for a long time.

We’re guessing Mayor Zimmer feels compelled to stave off the disaster and from where she sits, one can guess that’s almost a natural reaction.  She’s pretty much admitted that she gets pumped up for the challenge when approaching a hill.  We remember that feeling.  Back in our East Village days, we’d ride uptown and do loops in Central Park even when the weather was around 90.  Lots of open roadway on those overheated days and when you go, you just go.  There’s an open question though if that’s the best tact here.  Based on some of the comments from the the readers, the choices are already bleak.  With conjecture the bonds with interest now total $65MM and potential employee liabilities added, we’re looking at a price tag approaching $100MM.  Our horse sense on this was all told this would land up being in the range of $80MM.  Every time you scratch a bit under the surface though, it gets worse.  And the deterioration and the bad news looks to be accelerating as you delve more into the details.

Although we did not obtain an official position from the mayor’s office at press time, we did interview Councilman Mike Lenz last week and asked his view on what happens to the city if the hospital fails next year.  The Councilman offered the stark reality, “Hoboken entered into this, perhaps unwisely.  Hoboken will pick up the slack whatever it is.  I think that it’s very possible we are at a substantial risk of financial pain.”

We probed a bit further as Mike’s financial background is one of the strengths often discussed in his appointment for the 4th Ward seat looking for any additional insights he might bring, “I don’t (exactly) know.  We don’t have any good solutions here.  People talk like closing the hospital means that somehow, we don’t have the $52 million obligation.  We have the obligation.  The option to to close the hospital with no obligation does not exist,” he added.

We’ll see what comes out of tonight’s meeting.  It would not surprise us one bit to see our readers have already spelled out what’s about to occur.  We don’t expect our local officials to wave any magic wands here.  They’ve been hoodwinked as much as we were with the performance art presented at the last City Council meeting by the people from HUH: Hoboken University Hospital. 

See ya tonight.

Talking Ed Note: We did contact the mayor’s office seeking a position on the hospital’s situation but we didn’t provide enough lead time before publishing.  We’ll look to revisit sometime after the holiday.  

Related: The jolly green giant has some links with more history for those with a strong stomach.

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