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Horse Sense: Hospital survival enters its final countdown

Ever since the City of Hoboken took on the responsibility of taking over a failing St. Mary’s back in 2007, the road to sustainability was anything but certain.  Now Hoboken University Medical Center is looking into the abyss and facing critical mass.  By Friday, we should have an answer.

Among the most dire obstacles HUMC has faced since, grandstanding local politicians, state pols trading favors for union friends, ethically challenged lawyers yelling bankruptcy fraud – all of that fades into the backdrop as the final challenges will either be won or lost.

The duplicity, double dealing and sabotage on the hospital all comes to an end tonight.
Councilwoman Beth Mason along with the City Council will cast their likely final vote to save the hospital.

A pending sale to keep the hospital open at least seven years awaits a decision but not before the State.  The decision will be determined on satisfying creditors who must come to a settlement of $34 million owed.  The City of Hoboken already wrote off $2 million itself and tonight the City Council will consider an ordinance, one of several related items on the hospital to extend a bond ordinance on first reading for $5 million.

There are no guarantees it will be prove sufficient to the creditors.  Unless the City Council opts to increase the figure, this is the final offer.  Holdco may also add some monies to a final total and based on their investment to this point in the millions, one would expect they would do so.

The constituency most looking to keep the hospital open will be appealing to the two council members who originally passed the $52 million bond liability in 2007:  Terry Castellano and Michael Russo.  One of their votes is likely to hold the balance not only in passage of any bond ordinance but in the amount.

The mayor yesterday laid her final cards on the table to bring the deal to fruition proposing a $5 million bond ordinance.  No one can say what the creditors will accept at the end of the day, but they have been telling media sources they want about half the $34 million, requiring an additional $10 million with their eyes set on the Hoboken taxpayer.

There’s been questionable actions throughout the hospital sale process working against the selected bidder Holdco by members on the City Council operating against the legal entity, the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority.  Some have acted to sabotage the deal by embracing one failed bidder, P3 in Connecticut.  That embrace has been both public and private with Beth Mason openly advocating for them.  This even though they repeatedly were offered every opportunity to demonstrate financing and failed to do so.  Councilman Dave Mello received a call from the failed bidder long after the hospital authority was working with the selected bidder Holdco to come to terms on a sale.  His questions to his colleagues at a City Council meeting on who else had contact outside the legal authority of the hospital board was met with telltale silence.

Coming on the back of multiple sabotage efforts against bidder Holdco, Beth Mason has also publicly backed one group of creditors in the hospital unions.  Observers at various stages of the hospital sale inside and outside HUMC believe she has worked to undermine the sale, whether working with Appleseed who linked a release questioning the sale directly to Beth Mason’s controlled propaganda site Hoboken411 or with the lawyer claiming the bankruptcy declaration by the hospital is fraudulent.  This even with the hospital fighting for its life at death’s door.

The open question today is what else has Beth Mason been trading on?  Has she been involved behind the scenes working with the creditors to push their agenda against the interests of the City and hospital amidst negotiations?

The acceptable number the creditors have fed to the media is $10 million.  Has Beth Mason been telling them she can deliver them another $10 million from Hoboken taxpayers?

Tonight all the cards are laid on the table with how people VOTE on the hospital.  The rest is just hot air.  It’s put up or shut up and then cross your fingers as the creditors weigh the final settlement offer.

This is where the rubber meets the road.

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